This past weekend, StarFest 2014 descended upon the Denver Tech Center, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. This three-day long pop culture event brought thousands of fans, celebrities, cosplayers, and artists to the largest city in Colorado.
One of the oldest fan conventions in the country, StarFest started in 1977. Known as StarCon, the event was a fan produced celebration of all things SciFi. Making history from the beginning, the attendees of the May 1977 StarCon were the first American audience to see a special preview for a brand new science fiction movie known as: StarWars.
Since those early days, the convention has continued to grow and push boundaries. In the mid 1980’s StarCon merged with StarFest (a similar convention that was held in the fall) and adopted the latter’s namesake. The event has grown to become an amalgamation of several different festivals, into one large media celebration.
Under the umbrella of StarFest, smaller individual festivals are held. Horrorfest (horror film, television, and books), Comicfest (all things comic book), Robofest (robots of film and television, and how to create them), Modelfest (building and perfecting models) and Gamefest (RPG and video), are just a sampling of what is available throughout two hotel campuses.
StarFest is also well known for its celebrity appearances. Patrick Stewart and William Shatner both made their first convention appearances there, and such celebrities as John Travolta, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nemoy, Tom Cruise, Robert Englund, Jeffrey Combs, and Jonathan Frakes have appeared, as well as notable directors such as Tim Burton and Francis Ford Coppola.
This year, the festival included several well-known celebrities. Billy Dee Williams, Giancarlo Esposito, Nichelle Nichols, Amanda Tapping, Tim Russ, Richard Elfman, and Sam Witwer appeared alongside many industry leaders in writing, gaming, and filmmaking giving Q&A’s, lectures and presentations.
There were also demonstrations, events, haunted bus tours, movie trailer marathons, film screenings, dance parties, and costume contests, making it impossible to see and do everything.
The real draw of the weekend seemed to be the thousands of cosplayers who dressed up as everything from Evil Sith Ariel and Tinkerbell to an amazingly accurate Godzilla “Man-In-Suit” costume.
The largest cosplay genre represented had to be “Star Wars.” With the weekend falling over the 4th of May, the convention quickly turned into a “May The Fourth Be With You” celebration.
All manner of Jedi, Cantina Aliens, Storm Troopers, Bounty Hunters, Sith Lords, and Rebel Spies marched through the convention floor. The 501st Legion had a massive presence there, with Troopers invading the main atrium at regular intervals. Elaborate costumes that would compete with anything San Diego has to offer were on-hand for all three days of the festival.
“Star Wars” fans could even give the much-maligned Jar Jar Binks a kiss… or a punch.
Lots of other cosplay included Disney, comic books, Game of Thrones, and much more from the sexy to the sinister.
Some were trading in cosplay for body painting instead, though the hotel eventually stepped in to “censor” a few female parts.
If that wasn’t enough, festival goers were encouraged to decorate their hotel balconies, which lined the atrium – a unique feature to this convention. A contest, sponsored by the movie Godzilla, ensured that elaborate dioramas and scenes popped from every balcony space available.
And then there was plenty of partying.
Until recently, this author had never heard of StarFest. After attending, it can be emphatically stated that this event is an intimate, “best kept secret” of the pop culture world. Celebrities were surprisingly accessible, many choosing to eat meals and have drinks in the hotel restaurants and bars – oftentimes with fans. The quality of costumes and events make this a no-brainer for any fan of media and entertainment.
In short, Denver StarFest is a well-organized, highly loved event that draws fans from across the spectrum of entertainment, into a harmonious weekend of geektastic good times.
More photos from StarFest Denver 2014:
(Photos by Deigh Duncan and Jordan Langhofer)