SoonerCon is a fan run multi-genre convention held annually in Oklahoma City.
If you’ve been around the Oklahoma City area for a while, the name may sound familiar. Here’s why. There used to be a club in Oklahoma City called STAR OKC. Like most fans, they wanted a convention. After putting on a few one-shot types in the late 1970s and early 1980s, these folks, mostly high-school age through just out of college youngsters, decided to get organized, work hard to raise some money, and try to get something started. SoonerCon 1 happened twenty one years ago, in June of 1986. The con was begun and ramrodded by the Chair of SoonerCon 1, Mike Hodge. What he and many other helpers achieved lasted through SoonerCon 13 in 1997. Lots of artist and writer guests, from Tim Powers and Gene Wolfe to Brad Foster and Robin Bailey, were welcomed to Oklahoma City. During those years SoonerCon had hundreds of staff and helpers, and up until the last few years SoonerCon was “owned” by STAR OKC.
With SoonerCon's exclusive emphasis on traditional SF/fantasy books and art, making it a "lit con," a move arose as well for a local charity "media con" emphasizing genre TV/film, comics, gaming and pop culture actors, designers, and other guests--especially from Star Trek. Thus was born ThunderCon, which debuted in June 2001, balancing SoonerCon's November setting, and lasted through seven annual editions and often with staff and helpers working both. The new con operated with a non-profit board and involved all the local fan clubs interested, from Dr. Who, Babylon 5 and Trek's Starfleet chapters to gaming, modelbuilding, real space and even Dark Shadows! With "BoomerCon" judged a little too cute for a sister event, this project was named in honor of both Oklahoma's spring weather, its Indian heritage and the state's heroic 45th Infantry Division, the Thunderbirds—and so ThunderCon was born, its logo even adapted from the 45th's patch. ThunderCon was created and first run by another member of STAR OKC named Larry Nemecek, who with his wife Janet later moved to Hollywood to work on STAR TREK for Paramount. Yea, fanboys! A few other conventions have also taken place in the OKC area, but haven’t “taken root” for more than a year.
In mid-2005, several OKC fans got together and decided to try it again. And here we are! SoonerCon 2006 was held at the Central Plaza Hotel, and in 2007 moved to the Biltmore Hotel, and expanded to a three day event!
So … why the name “SoonerCon”?
Well, first that name stands for a fun SF/Fantasy convention in Oklahoma City, and is (wehope) warm in the memories of lots of fans. We want to start that fun and excitement again! And, in case you wondered, our ConComm checked with both the surviving ex-officers of STAR OKC (who used to “own” the con), and the con’s creator and original Chair. We're using the name with permission! The new SoonerCon is not continuing the original numbering, either. This incarnation of SoonerCon is deliberately designed to celebrate all aspects of fandom. We don’t intend to have a solely “books” or “TV” or “art” emphasis. The emphasis is on FUN.
In 2007, SoonerCon hosted a variety of guests including Stephen R. Donaldson, Keith Birdsong, Selina Rosen, and media guests Claudia Christian, Vaughn Armstrong, and Casey Biggs. Activities included a large exhibitor hall, an art show and auction, film festival, dinner/theater, charity auction benefiting the local chapter of March of Dimes: Walk America, Rocky Horror Picture Show, SinnerCon, and performances from Tribal Stars - Tribal Fusion Bellydancers. Programming included hours of workshops on topics ranging from art to makeup and costuming, and discussions of 2007’s topic, “Visitors from Beyond,” including discussions on UFOs, other dimensions, and Space Brothers. Other panels included guest question and answer sessions, autographing, readings, and performances.