No Brand Con X
our very own convention of sundry geekery turns ten
Before Milwaukee. Before Madison. Before Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Before any other city in Wisconsin and Minnesota. There was NoBrandCon.
Now in its tenth year, NoBrandCon is the longest-running animé-centric convention in the two-state region and a much-anticipated event for Eau Claire every year.
“It’s for people who like animé, sci-fi, video games – nerdy and geeky things in general,” current event director Stephen Gernaey beagn. “It’s a place for them to express their love of that, meet people who feel the same, dress as their favorite character, and have a great weekend with having to worry about being made fun of.”
In 2002, four UWEC students and animé fanatics were running the animé room of a sci-fi convention in Wausau when they decided to make state history.
“In the early 2000s, the closest cons were Animé Iowa and Animé Central in Chicago,” said Tray Dorn, one of the founding fathers. “And we did the math on the costs of going, and figured it’d probably be cheaper to start our own.”
The first year’s budget was around $1,300, he said, adding that they now operate around $30,000. That first year also had 115 attendees in two days at UWEC. They’ve since breached 1,200 people over three days. The second and third cons were in Davies Center before they moved to The Plaza and ushered in the era of the 24-hour convention. From 2006 to 2010, it ran at The Ramada. And now they’re back to The Plaza, hoping to breach the 1,500 landmark.
“This year is exciting because we’ve never had so many guests,” Gernaey said. “In past years we’ve had some animé voice actors, maybe another small name, and maybe a band … so this is a refresh for us and the direction I want to take it is mixing things up a bit more.”