11 Peculiar (and Awesome) Conferences
Perhaps the iconic Stevie Wonder said it best: “There’s a place in the sun where there’s hope for everyone.” When singing those lyrics, Mr. Wonder was taking about the meetings and convention industry, right?
Of course he was.
He meant that there was a gathering for each person — no matter how obscure or unique his or her passion — to find like-minded friends. To unite in a shared enthusiasm. To exchange information and resources. To give each other high-fives.
Here in Montréal, we love it when people geek out over their passions, however odd or offbeat they might be. In fact, we were curious about some of the most “niche” gatherings out there, so we decided to do a bit of research. We found some fascinating ones! In no particular order, here are eleven peculiar and awesome conferences.
(PS: You are all welcome to host your gatherings in Montréal!)
Leaky Con — As the convention “where nerds can be rock stars,” LeakyCon is a celebration of everything geeky and a little weird. The first LeakyCon took place in 2009 as a Harry Potter convention. Now, five conventions and two continents later, Leaky has grown with diverse interests, from Hunger Games to Doctor Who, and all the nerdy things in between. 2014 edition: Orlando, Florida.
SLEEP — It’s not as leisurely of an event as you’d imagine! Blending the most current sleep research with the best clinical practices, SLEEP is the premier sleep medicine event of the year with scientific sessions and an exhibition hall focused solely on sleep medicine and sleep research. Sounds dreamy! 2014 edition: Minneapolis, Minnesota.
World Toilet Summit — Before you flush this convention down the drain, give it a chance! The World Toilet Summit is a global event to bring various sanitation stakeholders under one roof. Together they collaborate on innovative inventions, projects and products in the sanitation sector. We’d like for them to keep things flowing! 2014 edition: Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Brick Con — Held annually in Seattle, BrickCon is the longest running fan-based LEGO convention. Attendees from around the country and around the world gather to share their LEGO creations. It is also an opportunity to learn from each other and to . . . *ahem* . . . build new friendships. 2014 edition: Seattle, Washington (like always).
Celebrity Impersonators Convention — Paging all Elvises and Celine Dions! This annual event is where the lookalike industry meets to network, learn current trends, discuss marketing strategies and showcase talents to agents. 2014 edition: Not yet announced.
International Cake Exploration Societé — The mission of the International Cake Exploration Societé (ICES) is to preserve, advance and encourage exploration of the sugar arts. The mission of everyone else in the world is to become a judge on a “cake evaluation panel.” The ICES provides opportunities for the development of future sugar artists — in a caring and sharing environment. With an emphasis on “sharing” we hope. 2014 edition: Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Feminist Porn Conference — (Disclaimer: We are not saying that feminist porn is odd or offbeat. We just think it’s cool that there’s a convention. So please, no hate mail.) The Feminist Porn Conference brings together academics, students, cultural critics, sex workers, activists, fans, performers, directors and producers to explore the intersections between feminism and pornography. Sounds a bit titillating, no? 2014 edition: Toronto, Canada.
American Association of Feline Practitioners — If you are passionate about cats, then the entire Internet is your playground. However, if you want to actually meet other feline practitioners — like, in person — there’s a purrfect conference for you. The AAFP is dedicated to advancing the field of feline medicine and surgery through practice guidelines, position statements and by providing continuing education. Bring your own laser pointer. 2014 edition: Indianapolis, Indiana.
Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament — What seven-letter word has three u’s in it? We don’t know, but it must be unusual. So is this event. Directed by New York Times Crossword Puzzle Editor Will Shortz, this is less of a convention and more of a competition. Prizes are awarded in more than 20 categories, including a $5,000 grand prize. Evening games, guest speakers and a reception allow solvers to meet each other in an entertaining atmosphere. 2014 edition: Brooklyn, New York.
The International Conference of Witches Warlocks & Ghouls — According to the website: “The ICWWG made its debut in the form of a Halloween party. Under the guise of an annual party, the multitudes of supernatural entities have found both voice and vision in the modern world.” It looks like this event is held annually in some dude’s basement. Could be frightening. On many levels. 2014 edition: Not yet announced.
Origami Annual Convention — OrigamiUSA organizes and manages the largest origami convention in the world, which takes place each year in New York City. Celebrate the joy of paperfolding in a space where paper cuts may sting, but the warm balm of pulpy friendship is a sure cure. 2014 edition: New York City, New York.