As a longtime horror fan, one of the things I still look forward to the most is a good convention. There are all the celebrities, the different movies and panels you can find out more on, searching for cool horror merchandise and just hanging out with people who not only understand, but share my love of the genre.
When I heard that St. Louis was about to get its first genre convention at the end of April, I knew I had to find the man behind the curtain.
That man is Dave Dyer, and on April 30th through May 2nd, his brand new convention, Con-Tamination 2010, is set to take over the Gateway City. Con-Tamination 2010 will feature tons of great horror and sci-fi celebrities, films, activities, and more.
Dyer spoke to Dread Central about what motivated him to start the Con-Tamination convention and what he has in store for all the Midwestern fans.
“I used to go to conventions as a consumer for so many years,” explained Dyer. “Then I worked as a show dealer selling masks and memorabilia since 1999 all over the United States. From all those experiences I was able to see the inner-workings of the convention scene.”
“I would always wonder why St. Louis wasn’t hosting a convention. It’s such a large city in a centralized location that seemed like the perfect place to host Con-Tamination so I started to dream up what I would like to do,” Dyer added.
Dyer soon came to realize that putting together a brand-new convention is something that takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. “I started planning Con-Tamination 2010 over two years ago. I had attended a lot of conventions in recent years where I began to notice a lot of similar themes and people every time. So I thought about doing something different than everyone else and began thinking about what I could do to leave my mark,” Dyer said.
Even though Dyer is beyond ecstatic for the inaugural Con-Tamination convention in just a few days, the organizer is first to recognize that putting together a convention can be a risky venture.
Dyer said, “I really had to do my homework when I started putting together Con-Tamination. I didn’t want to rush anything. I’ve been on the scene for so long and I’ve seen promoters fail along the way so I knew I had to take my time making sure everything was in place.”
One of the first projects for Dyer was organizing a cast reunion of George A. Romero’s 1985 classic film Day of the Dead.
“Right off the bat I knew I wanted to do a 25th Day of the Dead anniversary show because I couldn’t believe no one else was doing that,” explained Dyer. “Over the years Gary Klar has become like a brother to me, and he helped me contact everyone and put it all together.”
In addition to featuring the cast of Day of the Dead, Dyer has also arranged for horror fans to have the chance to see iconic genre actor William Forsythe, both Dee Wallace and Belinda Belaski from The Howling, and Fred Williamson. In addition to the horror celebs, pop culture fiends can also check out sports legend Ken Norton or talk with Seinfield’s “Soup Nazi,” Larry Thomas.
For Dyer, though, Con-Tamination 2010 had to go beyond just offering some amazing actors. It had to stand out as a completely new convention experience for fans.
“I think there are too many conventions these days that are just people walking around endlessly for hours on end. How many hours can fans just walk around really? So I decided to do some different things like host seminars, a room that features up-and-coming filmmakers, a celebrity dinner for fans and the actors, a 24-hour movie marathon that goes until 4 AM, street performers, live music, and a Night of the Living Dead Puppet Show even,” Dyer said.
Dyer also went to great lengths to make sure that the kids in attendance at Con-Tamination 2010 will have just as much fun as the adults over the weekend, including picture ops with the original 1966 Batmobile, costume contests, and more.
Even with all that awesomeness rolled into one weekend, Con-Tamination 2010 still boasts a pretty reasonable ticket price. If you buy your tickets in advance, weekend passes are $45 for three days or $20 for Friday and Sunday and $25 for Saturday alone. Kids get to attend for $12 all three days or $5 each day. Dyer said, “I knew if I was going to do this, I needed to raise the bar and give people the best bang for their buck.”
With Con-Tamination 2010 a little over a week away, Dyer says that he’s pretty sure the weekend will be successful for both those who are a part of the line-up and the fans, but he knows that no amount of preparation can avoid all of life’s speed bumps.
“Even though I know we’ve put together an event that has surpassed my initial expectations, it’s our first year,” explained Dyer. “I know there will be things we couldn’t do that would have been great, and there’s always a learning curve when organizing an event like this. But all you can do is learn how to make it better for the next year.”
With Dyer mentioning the idea of Con-Tamination 2011, I asked the organizer if he’s started thinking about next year’s convention.
“I’ve already had to start thinking about next year just so I can stay ahead of the game. It took me two years to plan the first so now one year means crunch time for us. I know we’re planning a Battlestar Gallactica reunion for 2011, and we’ve got a few announcements about next year that we’ll be making during the weekend,” Dyer said.
I asked Dyer how he was feeling about the impending convention and just how it would feel to join the ranks of professionals he’s worked alongside for so many years.
“I feel like the new kid on the block right now after creating the Con-Tamination convention,” explained Dyer. “The funny thing is, I’ve been working in this industry so long I really shouldn’t. But as we get closer, I do feel a little more pressure every day because I know that soon all eyes will be on St. Louis to see just how successful the show is. All I can do now is hope I deliver for the fans.”
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