The city of Sioux Falls dates back to the mid-19th Century when it was known as Fort Dakota, a refuge for settlers. The city has grown into South Dakota's top destination, complete with top tier accommodations, specialty shops, large community events, and a fun-filled nightlife. Its culinary scene is one of the best in the Midwest. In fact, the city was named a place of “Newfound Culinary Fame” by the New York Times in 2014.
SiouxperCon is South Dakota's top showcase of pop culture and nerdom, and is returning for its second year. It will take place May 12-14, at the Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel, which is located two and a half miles northwest of Downtown Sioux Falls. The event is a celebration of comic books, science fiction, cosplay, board games, anime, and more. Visitors can attend panels with a variety of pop culture personalities, purchase unique art at the Artists Alley, and take part in card game tournaments. Vendors will be selling comic books, figurines, collectibles, models, and more. Cosplay plays a prominent role and visitors are encouraged to dress up and enter cosplay themed competitions, talks, and workshops. The event donates net proceeds to The JY6 Foundation, which raises awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research, and REACH Literacy, which teaches reading and writing to residents of Sioux Falls. We got the opportunity to interview Brian Broekemeier, founder and chairperson of the event, to learn about this celebration of pop culture.
RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.
BB: SiouxperCon is your friendly, neighborhood fan convention. It began as the result of a question posed on Facebook. It then started to come together as people shared ideas and interest.
RAL: How many annual participants do you draw?
BB: Last year we anticipated about 500 attendees, and had around 1,500 show up! This year, we expect between 2,000 – 2,500 (possibly more).
RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?
BB: We are an all-ages and family friendly event that's targeted at “nerds” and those interested in nerd culture. Families of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to attend. Kids 10 and under are free. We also have some late-night entertainment for couples and adults, including movies, B-movie BINGO, comedians/improv on Saturday evening, and a nerd dance to cap off Saturday night.
RAL: What makes this event unique?
BB: We are a nonprofit event, entirely run by volunteers, and net proceeds go to the JY6 Foundation and REACH Literacy. The staff puts in thousands of hours to make the event fun, affordable, and unforgettable. Per day, the cost to get in is about what you’d spend on a movie ticket. We bring in comic books, anime, board games, video games, cosplay, and a lot of little things to make it a very memorable event.
RAL: Take me through the activities of a day at the event.
BB: The convention kicks off with a video game tournament, Siouxper Brawl, on Friday (May 12). Panels, vendor booths, and the Artist Alley open on Saturday, as well as a Magic: The Gathering Tournament. We will continue with panels, vendor booths, and the Artist Alley on Sunday as well as co-host a Mother’s Day breakfast with charActors, a group that specializes in superhero and princess characters.
RAL: Will there be any guest appearances?
BB: We have a special appearance by the official BacktotheFuture.com DeLorean Time Machine, owned by builders Terry and Oliver Holler, which will be featured in our main Exhibitor Hall for pictures. Featured guests include comic book creators Bill Willingham (Fables, Lark’s Killer), Ken Levin (Producer of Hell Boy, Preacher), Otis Frampton (Oddly Normal, How it Should Have Ended), Gordon Purcell (Star Trek, Justice League of America, Avengers), Tom Nguyen (Batman, Green Lantern, Superman), and Erik Burnham (Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Back to the Future). For a complete list visit our website.
RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up specifically for the event.
BB: The Best Western Plus Ramkota has a pretty spectacular layout and swim area/water park with a large slide and wading area for young children. We do have a special rate, but you’ll want to hurry because it books up fast!
RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?
BB: We do all we can to support local businesses, whether it's through ordering our spiffs or promoting events that fit with our mission. The movies we show are brought in by a local organization, Indievents. Plus we have Dan Bulblitz of Sno Jam Comedy Festival and Bu-Blitz Entertainment coordinating the comedians.
We have some awesome sponsors including Black Hills Federal Credit Union, Brookings Book Company, Rainbow Comics, TheSiouxEmpire.com, HobbyTown, BadLand Games, ACME Comics, and Smiles for Siouxland.
RAL: Does the event support a special cause in the community?
BB: We give equally to two charity partners: The JY6 Foundation and REACH Literacy. The JY6 Foundation raises awareness and funding for pediatric cancer research and leukemia research. REACH Literacy provides tutoring in reading, writing, and life skills to adults in the Sioux Falls metropolitan area. This year, we are also doing a canned food drive for Feeding South Dakota.
RAL: Why should people come to your event?
BB: SiouxperCon is put on by dedicated customer service professionals who are members of the “nerd” community. We provide a fun and safe place to learn, feel included, and be yourself. Because we are family friendly, families can come and enjoy all that we have to offer (kids 10 and under are free to attend), but adults can still have fun on Saturday night during “SiouxperCon: After Dark.” If this is your first con, we promise you won’t be disappointed. We had so many people reach out last year after the convention to tell us how much fun they had and how excited they were that we’re doing it again. It certainly makes everything worthwhile!
For more information about SiouxperCon, please visit the event website.