Attendees of Whitehorse’s annual YukomiCon Geek-End Market. This year’s event will feature the work of more than 20 artists and retailers and includes an extensive list of happenings over the weekend of Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. (Submitted)

The Force awakens for YukomiCon’s Geek-End Market

Celebrating geek culture

The Force will awaken in Whitehorse Labour Day weekend as YukomiCon gets set to host its annual celebration of all things geeky.

YukomiCon’s Geek-End Market is set for Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre.

An exhibit area featuring the work of more than 20 artists and retailers — the market part of the Geek-End Market as YukoniCon’s Paul Scholz described it — will complement an extensive list of happenings over the weekend, not the least of which will be two cosplay events, both on the afternoon of Aug. 31.

Scholz, aka Captain America if you’ve seen him at any of the YukomiCon events around town in recent years, says it’s a one of a kind event for the Yukon that brings many people together.

“It’s an amazing family event,” he said. “There’s so many different reasons to come out.”

For some it’s a chance to get their picture taken with a stormtrooper; for others there are opportunities to show off their costuming skills; and others like to find that unique collectable or piece of art at the market.

Costumes are encouraged throughout the weekend, but two formal cosplay events will happen Aug. 31. The first at 2:30 p.m. is aimed at youth 18 and under and their families with an adult edition to follow at 4 p.m.

Participants in both will show off their costuming skills on the catwalk with prizes to be awarded in the youth categories for best family/group costume; best shining star for ages four to eight; best youth costume for ages nine to 12; best teen costume for ages 13 to 15; and best young adult costume for ages 16 to 18.

Meanwhile, adults will compete in the categories of best in show; craftsmanship (where at least 80 per cent of the costume must be home-made); best group costume; best stage presence; and judge’s choice.

Scholz said he continues to be amazed at the level of work and detail Yukoners put into creating costumes of their favourite characters.

“It blows my mind,” he said.

Registration for both cosplay events will be held up to 15 minutes before the event.

Crafty youngsters have a long list of activities to choose from during YukomiKids.

Along with the self-directed creations kids can work on with materials provided, there will be projects focused on pop-culture favourites hosted in one-hour increments during both days.

Pokémon fans, for example, may want to be part of a pipe cleaner Pokémon battle, while Star Wars fans might take in “Sabers So Easy You Can Do Them Solo” to find out how to make their own pool noodle lightsaber “infused with the Force”.

Toy Story 4, The Lion King, dragons and aliens have also inspired YukomiKids sessions.

The Geek-End Market is drawing local and visiting exhibitors, including five members of the 501st Legion who will be on-hand decked out as stormtroopers, officers with the Imperial Army and other characters from the dark side of the Star Wars universe.

Though not directly associated with Lucasfilm Ltd., the legion is a 12,000-member international organization where members dress for the roles of the “bad guys” from the Star Wars franchise.

Scholz said officials with YukomiCon have been asking the Legion to visit the territory’s event for awhile with the stars finally aligning this year.

Teresa Nutell of the legion’s Badlands Garrison troop said the garrison has been working to build the legion’s presence in the North.

When the opportunity to come to YukomiCon’s Geek-End Market came up, the group looked at it with four members signing on, including Nutell. Another member from a B.C. garrison is also set to join them.

For Nutell, a long-time Star Wars fan, the group gives her an opportunity to be part of a community that shares a love of Star Wars at the same time as providing a creative outlet in costuming and a chance to volunteer as the group makes appearances at events that range from hospital visits to charity walks to the Geek-End Market and donating to charities.

In this case, donations collected from those getting their picture taken with a stormtrooper, Imperial Army officer or perhaps Capt. Phasma as Nutell has been known to appear as, will go to the Whitehorse Boys and Girls Club.

At other events, donations have been made to the Make-A-Wish Foundation or other charities that are local to the event region.

As Nutell described of the charity aspect of Legion 501: “We literally are bad guys doing good” and for her that’s “really incredibly rewarding.”

Nutell said it’s always a thrill to see the expressions of awe when a Star Wars fan sees a stormtrooper coming their way and gets to have their picture taken with them.

“For a moment, you get to be some character you really like,” she said.

Among the characters Yukoners may recognize Nutell as: Capt. Phasma, a stormtrooper, a Jawa, a TIE pilot, Governor Arihnda Pryce, Admiral Natasi Daala — Olive Drab, Director of Intelligence Ysanne Isard, an Imperial security bureau officer and a social officer.

Yukoners will also have a chance to talk with the Legion 501 members about their organization and see a display of costumes.

“We plan to troop hard,” Nutell said.

Those that troop hard also party hard with The Shaggy Manes set to perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 31 at the cultural centre.

While most of the market events are free, tickets are being sold for the performance and those attending are invited to wear their favourite costumes.

A ticketed night of geeky trivia is slated the evening before (Aug. 30) at Yukon Brewing, making for a full weekend of geek-culture.

YukomiCon is continuing to look for people interested in being part of possible panel discussions or volunteering. Information is available on its website at https://www.yukomicon.com/

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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