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Nanashi hosts successful first GaoKon

Photo By: Julia Guerrein/The Behrend Beacon


Julia Guerrein, Editor-in-Chief

This past weekend, Behrend’s anime club, Nanashi, hosted GaoKon, a a pop-culture convention with a focus on anime, comics, and gaming. The event was held on Saturday and Sunday and persisted through a power outage.

Maya Merrick, President of Nanashi, and Meghan Zelenak were the primary organizers of GaoKon. Both have been active in a number of other cons and spent months planning Behrend’s first GaoKon.

“It was a lot of work because I’ve been doing this kind of thing for a really really long time, but...I haven’t actually gone forth to do something this ambitious before,” explained Zelenek, “Watching over everything is completely different”


A number of people commented on the quality of GaoKon, “We had quite a few people say that this was probably one of the best run conventions they’ve  ever been to”.

“I’ve been to dozens of cons and I’ve staffed quite a few as well. GaoKon has been one of the best staffed and cleanest cons I’ve ever seen. Especially considering the weather knocking out their power and pushing some vendors and guests away,” said Torie Witherow, an Edinboro student.

The two day event was filled with a variety of activities, such as an arcade in McGarvey, meetups with celebrities in the field including Tiffany Grant and Kira Buckland, game developing workshops, cosplay, and many other workshops.

The con had an overall welcome and community feel. People were able to come together with likeminded people and enjoy the company of those interested in the same things as them.

“The fandom community in Erie is relatively small, we all know each other. GaoKon staff went out of their way to make this con more open to younger con goers and con newbies to allow our community to truly grow instead of letting it stay stagnant,” said Witherow.

Zelenek expressed a similar sentiment, “I wanted to have a safe place, especially for the younger kids in Erie to hang out and communicate,” said Zelenek. “I also love how inclusive GaoKon is,” explained Witherow. “Unlike other cons which focus on strictly Asian media, GaoKon is open to any and all fandoms.”

Despite the power outage Friday night caused by almost a foot of snow, GaoKon continued on. “There was honestly nothing that could have happened that would’ve been worse short of actual 911 level emergency,” said Merrick.

Merrick and Zelenak are already looking at planning another con and hope to make it even bigger and better than GaoKon. They hope to get the campus more involved and break down the stereotype around anime and conventions.“I want the campus to grow to become comfortable with this stuff,” said Zelenek.