Ice and Fire Con: An Ode to My “Family”

ice and fire con family 2017

It’s taken me a while to write this post, because I’ll be honest – it’s almost impossible to put how I feel about the Ice and Fire Con family into words.

Last year I wrote a very heartfelt entry about “my” convention – “Ice and Fire Con: A Goal, A Reality, A Lifestyle”. Now, I put the “my” in quotes because let’s be honest, it’s never been “mine”, at least not outside of the fact that I’m one of the original founders and, of course, a current organizer.

And no, I didn’t do it on my own. There were two other founders who have long since moved on to other things, because that’s what happens when life takes hold of you. There are an additional two prior organizers who are also no longer involved, because sometimes what’s best for an organization as a whole doesn’t quite work for everyone involved. For my part, there are no hard feelings – how can there be, when this thing that we worked together to create and build is still here, still thriving, still growing?

ice and fire con family organizersHonestly, while I did found this convention, the family that has sprung from it is still beyond my comprehension. Ice & Fire Con absolutely would not exist in its current and most amazing form without my good friend and fellow organizer K-K, who saw our Reddit post way back in 2012 and decided to take a chance on the first-ever North American ASOIAF/Game of Thrones convention. Who eventually became one of my best friends, then a volunteer, and finally, an organizer.

Ice & Fire Con couldn’t be what it is without our awesome volunteers, either, and it absolutely wouldn’t be the same without every single person who attends. When I say that we’re a family, I don’t say that lightly, and I’m not sure I can really express how true it is. In fact, even when I go to other conventions, I’m generally more excited about seeing my Ice and Fire Con family (a.k.a. “IaF fam”) than I am about anything else.

ice and fire con family 2017

We are, in so many ways, a very diverse group, but our differences are never problematic – they are honored and appreciated. I am personally very proud of the inclusive, non-judgmental, and *safe* community that we have fostered, and like the mama bear I am, I will do everything in my power to protect that. (Pause to insert “BEARS” chant here)

ice and fire con family 2017It’s not just the success of Ice & Fire Con that brings me joy – it is the community, the *family*, that it imbues in me, and hopefully in others, as well.

We are extroverts. We are introverts. Some of us have been bullied. Some of us have been disrespected. But at Ice & Fire Con, we are, as one of my absolute favorite attendees pointed out, “kings, queens, warriors; dangerous, powerful, beautiful, perfect.”

At Ice & Fire Con, we are family.

I would say “let the countdown to Ice & Fire Con 2018 begin”…but let’s be real, it started when we parted ways on April 30th of this year.

ice & fire con 2018 countdown

(but here’s the countdown anyway, as of 8:56 PM EDT on 7/1/2017)

Ice and Fire Con: A Goal, A Reality, A Lifestyle

Ice and Fire Con 2017

Nearly four years ago (in September 2012), I sat down with two other A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones fans and put together a track proposal for Dragon Con – one that would entirely center around George R.R. Martin’s works, both television and writing, as well as HBO’s hit new series Game of Thrones.

Unfortunately, Dragon Con wasn’t accepting new tracks – in fact they were (understandably) combining a few things. Even as we submitted our proposal, we knew deep down that we had no chance. And so, while we were waiting, we started making plans for the first-ever Ice and Fire Con. We wanted a beautiful location, but we needed a place that would work with us in regards to money, because we were basing our future on possible ticket sales.

Thankfully, Ravenwood Castle in New Plymouth, Ohio went out of their way to accommodate us. The new owner (at the time, remember, this is 2012) was (and still is) an ASOIAF fan, and he was very excited to host Ice & Fire Con. That’s not to say that creating this convention wasn’t difficult at all – I even wrote an article about the 5 [not so] easy steps to organizing a convention after our first event – but from the moment we started selling tickets, it was like I’d said “Friend” and the doors of Durin opened for me.

Ice and Fire Con Ravenwood Castle

Only, you know, without all the orcs and the cave troll and the Balrog. Just feasts and ale and treasure.

Wait, we’re not-for-profit, so no treasure. But hey, feasts and ale!

Ice and Fire Con Beer Tasting

Seriously though, since that first year my life has been consumed by this event. Not every hour of every day, but enough that it has become part of my very being. Though there have been times when I’ve thought perhaps it would be better for me to step down as an organizer, in the end I never could do that, and so here I am – preparing for Ice & Fire Con 2017, which will be our 5th year anniversary. And this time I’m organizing this event with one of my closest, most trustworthy, and hardest-working friends.

Ice and Fire Con organizers

But it’s not just that. As always, we have an amazing team of volunteers – people who started as friends and became volunteers, people who started as attendees and became friends and then volunteers. Regardless, now more than ever we are all a team, and the next ten months of planning are going to be amazing…but also too long.

Ice and Fire Con small council

The Ice and Fire Con Small Council

Because when I am at Ice & Fire Con, I am home. Whether it’s Ravenwood or Mountain Lake, whether I see certain people several times a year or only at this one event, I am home.

And of course, the fact that we’re all ASOIAF/Game of Thrones fans, the reunion itself, the discussions, the games, the parties, and more…they all make everything that much better.

I love this convention. I love what it has done for my life. I love the people I’ve been able to spend time with, the people I’ve met, and I can’t imagine not loving the people I’ve yet to meet.

I’ll leave you with some of my *personal* highlights from Ice & Fire Con 2016…and the hope that you’ll check out our website, Facebook page, Facebook group, Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram…and consider joining us for our 5th anniversary in 2017!

Ice and Fire Con House Martell

Ice and Fire Con Iron Throne

Ice and Fire Con Queen Regent Cersei Lannister

Ice and Fire Con Da Bears and the Maiden Fair

Ice and Fire Con Ned Stark Cersei Lannister

Ice and Fire Con attendees

Ice and Fire Con Flea Bottom Fete