Lake Charles, LA
Bayoucon 2014 is a fan-run convention in Lake Charles, LA that takes place every June. I have attended this event (and was even the vice president of the convention’s board at one point) every year since its inception with the exception of 2012. Originally this convention was primarily a science fiction based event, but it took a shot at anime last year. This year, it seems as if the convention went back to sci-fi, featuring guests from Stargate SG-1, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek Continues, The Walking Dead, and one anime guest. I’ll speak about some of these later on.
Photo credit: Garrett Manuel
I attended the event as a guest panelist and as a member of the crew of the USS Lafitte, a Lake Charles based Star Trek fan club that is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year. I arrived on Friday and met up with the Lafitte crew for the evening. Neither of my two panels took place on Friday night, so I had a lot of time to walk around and check out the event. I also got to visit with a lot of friends, some that I had not seen in a very long time. Attendance was okay, but there was still plenty of room to roam around without being crunched shoulder to shoulder with other guests and fans.
Photo credit: Stuart Griggs
Saturday was a bit more active than Friday night. All of the celebrity guests were available for autographs, photos, small talk, etc. on this day, and I took a little bit of my free time to speak with the lovely Noelle Hannibal, who many of you might recognize from Star Trek: First Contact. A few more of you eagle-eyed fans might remember her from the TV series, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and I commend you if you recognize her from that, because she was in full makeup for that show. We talked for a bit and I got a photograph and an autograph from her. She was very cordial and a pleasure to speak with.
Photo credit: Kendall Fontenot
Saturday was also the day that the lovely ladies of Orion’s Envy made their appearance in all of their green glory. These ladies are excellent dancers and capture the allure of the Orion Slave Girls with perfection. It’s hard to say anything bad about these ladies because A) they are as friendly and lovely as can be and B) they are real Star Trek fans. I consider them friends and look forward to seeing them at any convention that I attend. They performed on Saturday evening for the crowd in between sets by the Consortium of Genius, who jammed out to a ton of original tunes culled from multiple genres. COG (as many people refer to them) also cranked out an epic version of the theme from Doctor Who, which is my favorite series of all time.
I hosted a panel about the Fifth and Tenth Doctors from Doctor Who on Saturday. I called it Five and Dime and briefly highlighted the multiple similarities and differences between the men (Peter Davison and David Tennant) that portrayed these two incarnations of the Doctor and how the two relate to one another in real life. I was shocked at how many people attended the panel. Apparantly the Lake area is hungry for Who.
Photo credit: Garrett Manuel
Sunday was much, much more laid back, and attendance lightened as the day went on. Despite the small numbers, though, I had a nearly packed house for my second panel, Upgrades: From Mondas to Cybus Industries, which covered the ever-changing Cybermen from Doctor Who. This panel was much looser than my previous one, drawing a lot of interplay from the crowd, and we even went off on a few tangents like Superman and Harry Potter, but it was still a lot of fun and well-attended.
The event closed with what was supposed to be a panel focusing strictly on Cliff Simon, but he suggested that all of the celebrity guests take the stage with him and it basically became a free-for-all where photos were snapped, autographs signed, and plenty of fun was had by all.
After the convention called it a day, I managed to grab an autograph from Michael Koske, a featured Walker from The Walking Dead. I asked him how many times he died on screen as a Walker and he told me that of the forty-three Walkers that he portrayed, forty of them bit the dust on the screen. He was a genuinely nice guy and I wouldn’t mind seeing him at another convention down the road.
Photo credit: Some random dude who offered to take the photo for me. I returned the favor. Thanks, random dude!
I also got to hang out for a bit with Larry Nemecek, who is bascially a Trek library full of knowledge about not just the many series and films, but of many other Trek related things. He also portrayed Bones in the first two episodes of Star Trek Continues, a fan created series headed up by Vic Mignogna, who is best known as an anime voice actor. If you ever get the chance to check out the show, do it!
The best thing about small cons like Bayoucon is the fact that you spend almost no time in lines to meet celebrities, shop vendors, or interact with artists. Even better than that is the fact that you get to hang out with friends in a very loose environment.
Photo credit: Garrett Manuel
Bayoucon has had many ups and downs over the years and still seems to be trying to find its footing, but two very important staff members, the husband and wife duo of Michael and Jenni Moreau, have managed to make this an enjoyable event. They go out of their way to make this event special, and they should be recognized for their work on this event.
If you’re ever in the Lake area during the early days of summer, be sure to check out Bayoucon. I plan to attend this event again next year, and hopefully with new panels to present.
Header photo taken by Garrett Manuel.