Costume-Con: The Origin Story

Once an event is as firmly established as Costume-Con few can imagine a time when it was only a daring idea.

Fewer still remember that in 1979 the first attempt to organize a costuming weekend – called Costume Mania – went nowhere! But it’s all there in the official history:

COSTUME-MANIA was the brainchild of Adrienne Martine-Barnes, a costumer of long-standing both in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and at science fiction conventions. Her idea of a costumed weekend was a good one, and it should have happened…

But it didn’t.

There could have been a number of reasons why COSTUME-MANIA didn’t succeed. Not enough people wrote in and showed interest. Adrienne had a hard time finding enough local people to help her run the event.

However, when Adrienne shared her vision with other costumers at the 1981 Worldcon she was very persuasive.

She then began to outline her ideas about holding a convention exclusively for costumers. “Just think of it. You can change clothes nine times a day and show off all your best stuff. You can trade techniques with other costumers. There won’t be anyone around to point their fingers at you and laugh at you for ‘dressing funny,’ because everyone there will be interested in the same thing you are: Costume.”

Karen (Schnaubelt) Turner agreed to chair the first committee and Costume-Con 1 took place in January 1983, drawing 140 attendees.