The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Inaugural GeekCon held at UWEC-Barron County

Passion project moves between Eau Claire branches
Photo by Cade Fisher
UW-Eau Claire’s last GeekCon saw a jump from 600 attendees to 1,600, and hopes to keep growing.

The first GeekCon was held at the UW-Eau Claire Barron County, having started at UW-Eau Claire and has now been transformed for the Barron County branch. The event boasted 106 attendees with 45 tables of displays throughout the event space.

The event was first created by Rob Mattison and a student at UW-Eau Claire in 2017, the goal was to create an event for people with different passions to come together and share.

Nicole Schultz, a communication and journalism professor, was approached by Mattison in the fall of 2018 to continue the event with her strategic event planning course, becoming the sole focus of the class in the 2019 academic year. 

According to Schutlz, the class is split into groups around publicity, hospitality, recruitment and specialty. The teams of students then all work to make Geekcon on campus. The last Geekcon at UW-Eau Claire saw 1,600 attendees.

“It could be someone who’s just attending but you see a spark in their eyes and they now have a flare for something they found at Geekcon,” Schultz said. 

Abbey Fischer, the campus director at UW-Eau Claire Barron County, was approached by Mattison to help bring the event to the Barron County campus. With the help of Madison, the event brought community members and new and returning vendors to Barron County.

“Well over 45 tables full of what people geek out about and there was just a constant buzz around The Commons,” Fischer said. “There was just a constant buzz of activity all day.”

According to Fischer, groups from Pioneer Village Museum and McIntyre Library join vendors to share even more topics at the convention. Faculty also attended the event, being able to geek out with students instead of instructing them. 

Thursday’s at the U, a free lecture series that occurs every week at UW-Eau Claire  Barron County, ran at the same time as GeekCon. The topic was about art in prisons and allowed people to learn more about the potential art has for all people.

Sara Potter, the retention specialist at UW-Eau Claire Barron County, said that the first task they had to focus on was reaching out to a variety of people. This included cold calls and emails to find different vendors who would want to share their passions.

“I think GeekCon was a group of people who had really diverse passions who were willing to come to campus and share their knowledge and talent with the community of Rice Lake,” Potter said.

According to Fischer and Potter, there is hope to triple attendance next year, with potential for extending the timing of the event for high school and middle school groups to attend after school hours. 

During the event, Three Chiefs Fry Bread food truck offered food for attendees, and according to Fischer, they were sold out by 2 p.m. after arriving at 10 a.m. to start selling.

The next Geekcon will be held on Dec. 7 in Davies Student Center where the strategic event planning course will be spending the rest of this semester and next semester setting up.

Fisher can be reached at [email protected]

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