By Jeff Labine
The Chronicle-Journal
Published: Oct. 24, 2016

For many participants, ThunderCon is more than a nerd and geek cultural event — it’s also a chance to express creativity.

Thousands wandered through the halls of the Valhalla Inn in Thunder Bay over the weekend for the second annual nerd, geek and fan convention. The two-day event, which wrapped on Sunday, featured venders, talent shows, guest appearances, introductions to board games and plenty of chances to show off homemade costumes.

Tammy Bouchard, one of the parents who attended the event, came to ThunderCon with her husband and three children, who were all dressed for the occasion. This was the first time that the family had attended ThunderCon but not their first time at a fan convention. Bouchard explained that a few years ago they attended one in Fort William and event travelled to Edmonton, Alta., to attend a fan convention in September.

While the convention was much bigger in Edmonton, Bouchard said she much preferred the scaled down event found in Thunder Bay.

“The volunteers seem happier (here),” she said. “They’re awesome. They have a lot of patience, I find. (Going to conventions is) fun and it creates memories. It brings out (my children’s) creativity.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Meagan Ross. Her two sons were both dressed for the event as well as herself and her husband. Ross said their interest in coming to ThunderCon began when they started playing role playing games at home.

“They love costumes and all the fantasy and sci-fi stuff,” she said.

“It’s a great opportunity for them to see it outside of our home. (The event) is something to do as a family. I think any event regardless of the theme is good for the city of Thunder Bay. It raises awareness and I know people are travelling from the region to come so it is great economically. But I think it is important for people with common interests to come together and celebrate that.”

Keanna Beaucage attended ThunderCon last year and said she had a lot of fun so she decided to attend again. She said she wanted to take in all the costumes and booths that were available at the convention.

“I think it’s really cool,” she added.

“The costumes I like a lot and the booths.”

Toller Madsen, an organizer with ThunderCon, said they anticipated around 2,500 people to come to the event over the two days. Given the success of last year’s event, Madsen explained it was natural to put on ThunderCon again. He believes geek and nerd culture has been more widely accepted by the general public, which has allowed more people to dress up and attend events like the one in Thunder Bay.

“I think now is a fantastic time to be into this,” he said.

“Entertainment in general has become big. The whole ‘geek community’ is now mainstream. The jocks aren’t beating up the geeks anymore because the jocks are into this stuff now too. It is just a fantastic time to be a fan.”