From the 24th until the 26th of April was the Pyrkon in Poznań in Poland. And I had been there for another live-experience for a foreign convention!
When I came to Pyrkon, I have been shocked by the incredible queue waiting at the entrance. Most fascinating was, that it weren´t people waiting for the opening of the event or who have dammed up due an organization problem, it was an all-time moving queue that nevertheless was all through the building and down the street. In fact it was not bad at all waiting there, as the fans got their tickets rather quickly.
The convention itself was on an exhibiting ground, various buildings next to each other. All places were full of life and in fact it had been the ideal location for these masses of visitors. According to Pyrkon´s press release there were nearly 31.500 attendants (!!!) and due to what I have seen with my own eyes, I have no doubts about it!
Of course there had been a lot of program in Polish language. But even for me as a foreigner (I am Austrian) there had been an English program line that offered a lot of interesting panels. I wonder why there were not more foreigners, I only came across a few and also felt that others were some sort of surprised finding out that I don´t speak Polish. Anyway, I never felt any hostility, rather curiosity as almost everybody wanted to know where I am from, how I got to know about the convention and if I am only there to attend the convention. Hell, yes, and that is quite a full program for just three days!
And what they offered at the event was rather miscellaneous, cosplay (I watched a bit of the competition and there were gorgeous costumes set in scene well with perfect lightening, music and artificial mist), gaming, manga, shopping (in fact I have been a bit surprised that a lot of the merchandise even for TV-shows like Dr. Who had been hand-made) and whatever fans like.
For me of course I had been mainly interested in science-fiction literature. They really had great Guests of Honour, also US-ones like Ted Chiang and Joe Haldeman.
I attended several panels with them and liked Joe Haldeman best. I guess his anti-war novel The Forever War is a masterpiece and really something everyone should have read – and therefore also the moderated discussion of Haldeman who had been forced into Vietnam War as a young man with a woman who is voluntarily serving as a military doctor was most interesting, like anything else I have seen.
I heard that Dmitry Gluhkovsky, the Russian author who founded the Metro 2033-universe also had been there, but he appeared in the Polish part of the program (with translation), so I did not see him.
But besides that there was also enough space for panels on fandom – for one example, I saw a very interesting speech about Croation fandom by Mihaela Perković. – By the way, although I have never been to a Polish convention, I in fact met some people I already knew. (Besides Poles, also Croatians and Ukrainians.) And in fact, socializing with old fellows is the best at a convention – besides making new friends. The conditions were perfect, a weather like in summer all days long and even in the evening not too chilly. There were tables outside, one could buy a lot of different food items that also tasted quite well – especially considered how bad food can be sold at events … But here, nothing to complain. I liked żurek most, what is a Polish soup with smoked sausage inside. So having one of this, or coffee or beer, sitting in the sunshine, you could really enjoy life, talking about your dearest hobby with other fans and with all the young people around, even flirting had been an option …
I travelled between nine and ten hours to get to Pyrkon, but every minute I sat in the bus was worth it. If I should rate this event, it would get three of three “Eat Con Love”-points!