Feature: Maple Gel Con-A convention dedicated to the Tales series
If you love Bandai Namco’s Tales series you will definitely want to check out what I call a hidden gem of a con, Maple Gel Con, in Oakville, Ontario Canada. This convention is 100% run by the fans for the fans and you can feel the love and dedication. With a whole slew of activities, cosplay, artists and more this is a convention worth crossing the border for. There is something to be said about going to smaller conventions compared to the larger ones, they have a true heart. You also get the opportunity to connect more with people who share the same interests and passions. Long lasting friendships are 100% made at this con as well as lasting memories. Back when they started they only had four people on the team now they have a team of six plus dedicated volunteers. Maple Gel Con takes place from June 21-23 at the Oakville Holiday Inn Centre and you will not want to miss out.
At Anime North here in Canada, I had the opportunity to meet with one of the people behind Maple Gel Con and met some of the people who have gone in the past. The Maple Gel Guild as they are also known on Facebook are the ones who work tirelessly throughout the year to put this convention together. Their table at Anime North further let the community know about their existence and hopefully draws in more attendance. I am confident this convention will continue to thrive and succeed with the true dedication put into it on a continuing basis. Below is the interview I did with Jesi McMulkin, Operations and Treasurer for Maple Gel Con. She provided me with insight into just what went into the creation of Maple Gel Con and I felt the true passion first-hand.
What was the influence behind starting Maple Gel Con?
It all started with the Tales panel at Anime North, it was always a fun gathering of Tales fans and everyone was sad to see it end. There were a couple of times Kira mentioned the idea of starting an entire con dedicated to just tales, and in 2015 when it came up I thought it’d be cool to take that seriously and asked on Facebook who all would be interested in coming to my place and talking preliminary planning. At the time we had a group with a handful of people from the AN panel, but the ones who actually got involved were Kira, Leach and my sister Nikki (it was probably about 3 hours into this meetup at my place I asked these Yuri and Jude cosplayers what their names were) As for personal motivation, I really wanted to connect more with other fans of this series I loved and hopefully make some new friends too. Maybe even play some Tales coop!
Can you tell me what you hope people take away from attending your convention?
I hope people can take a way a very positive experience from our con, with fond memories and excitement to come back. The community we developed is like a family, where everyone is welcome and accepted and our love of the series brings us together. Hopefully some will walk away with some new friendships too, I know I did!
Describe some of the highlights of Maple Gel Con
We’ve got a games room with just about every localized Tales game for people to relax and play, and some organized boss fights with 4-player coop – Rappig Dodgeball is always popular, where we settle differences of opinion (Like Team Rollo vs Team Repede) by hurling rappig balls at each other. So far no one has topped the stellar performance of Mikleo! – Tales Against Humanity, just like cards against humanity Tales style! – Saturday night formal dance, which is great for breaking out formal cosplays, doing some ballroom dancing for those who want, or dancing like a Turtlez for those who don’t. There’s a morning lesson in ballroom dancing too to get everyone up to speed! – Tales library, where the leaders/any volunteers bring our extensive collection of Tales books – manga, art books, anything really – for anyone to look at And a whole bunch more!
What are some of your hopes for the future of Maple Gel Con?
I’d like to keep growing our con in the future, to get the word out to as many people as possible and get more and more attendees who share in our love of Tales. One particular goal we’re looking at as well is potentially getting a Tales voice actor as a guest at our con, so far it hasn’t been financially viable for us but hopefully in the not-too-distant future.
Whether you are a cosplayer, a gamer or a fan of any aspect of this amazing franchise this con does have something for everyone.
If you would like to know more about Maple Gel Con head on over to their website or check them out this year!
Photos Courtesy of Maple Gel Guild and Jesi McMulkin