|Location(s)||Midwest City (Oklahoma City), Oklahoma|
|Organized by||Leonard Bishop|
SoonerCon is a fan-run multi-genre convention held annually in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and suburbs, currently Midwest City since 2013. SoonerCon was founded in 1986 but went dormant after the 1997 event. In 2005, a group of fans, headed by con chair Jerry Wall, re-established SoonerCon as the multi-genre convention of central Oklahoma and worked to a 2007 relaunch event. While originally created as a traditional sci-fi/fantasy "litcon" embracing art, TV/film, costuming, gaming, filksinging, comics and real-space advocacy, SoonerCon now crosses over to even more aspects of fandom including anime, miniature modeling, and film production.
As with both the state nickname and the mascot of the University of Oklahoma athletic teams, SoonerCon takes its name from the doubly unique angle of Oklahoma Territory's opening-settler "Land Runs" and the Sooners who crossed into the target areas early in several of the runs, illegally ahead of the opening hour.
In 2007, SoonerCon hosted a variety of guests including author Stephen R. Donaldson, artist Keith Birdsong, publisher Selina Rosen, plus media guests Claudia Christian, Vaughn Armstrong, Casey Biggs, and Janet and Larry Nemecek. Activities included a large exhibitor hall, an art show and auction, film festival, dinner/theater, charity auction benefiting the local chapter of March of Dimes: Walk America, Rocky Horror Picture Show, SinnerCon (a schedule of late-night, over-18 programming), and performances from Tribal Stars - Tribal Fusion Bellydancers. Programming included hours of workshops on topics ranging from art to makeup and costuming, and discussions of 2007’s topic, “Visitors from Beyond,” including discussions on UFOs, other dimensions, and Space Brothers. Other panels included guest question and answer sessions, autographing, readings, and performances.
First held in June 1986 under founding chair Mike Hodge and mainly sponsored by the STAR OKC SF fan club and other individuals, SoonerCon was Oklahoma City’s fan-based sci-fi convention until SoonerCon 13 in 1997. (SC 1 and 2 were both held in 1986, in order to reset the date from summer to the pre-Thanksgiving weekend in November.) During those years, many headliner artist and writer guests of honor, from Tim Powers and Gene Wolfe to Brad W. Foster and Robin Bailey, were welcomed to Oklahoma City.
In 1991, a sister event, ThunderCon, was formed by STAR OKC member Larry Nemecek. ThunderCon was designed to be a local charity "media con" emphasizing much of what SoonerCon did not: genre TV/film, comics, gaming, model-building, anime and pop culture, with actors, designers, and other guests—especially from Star Trek. ThunderCon drew its name from three local ties: Oklahoma’s notorious spring weather, the mythical thunderbird from Native American heritage, and the same-named bird that was mascot of the state's heroic 45th Infantry Division (aka "Thunderbird Division"). It debuted in June 1991 (balancing SoonerCon’s November setting) and lasted for seven annual editions, often with staff and helpers working on both OKC events. With few exceptions over the years, Infant Crisis Services of Oklahoma City, which assists infants and toddlers of low-income families, has been SoonerCon's primary charity of choice (as well as the old ThunderCons). Note that ThunderCon's name preceded by 17 years the coming and similar moniker of the NBA franchise Oklahoma City Thunder—but the team obviously sourced its name from the same Oklahoma roots.
After the end of the original SoonerCons under STAR OKC in 1997, seven years passed without a local sci-fi convention until a group of fans, with permission from the original founders, returned to the name SoonerCon in 2005 and began working on its resurrection. SoonerCon 2006 was held July 15–16 at the Bricktown Plaza in Oklahoma City, home to several early SoonerCons and Thundercons as the "Central Plaza Hotel," with over 500 paid attendees and $1000 raised for a local charity, Citizens Caring for Children. SoonerCon 2007, now expanded to a three-day event, moved to ThunderCon's old "first June weekend" slot over June 8–10 and moved physically to the westside Biltmore Hotel, where it stayed for several years; guests included Star Trek actors Vaughn Armstrong and Casey Biggs, and native Trek pros Janet and Larry Nemecek. SoonerCon 2008 was held June 6–8 with a theme of "Pieces of '08," with honored guests including toastmaster Selina Rosen, author John Ringo, and artist Tom Kidd.
SoonerCon 2009 was held June 5–7 with featured guests Eric Flint and Selina Rosen; and the theme "Slideways in Time." Then followed "2010: A Bubba Odyssey" with "Bubba Ho-Tep" author guest Joe R. Lansdale, artist GoH John E. Kaufmann, and comic book artist John Lucas—once again with the inimitable Selina Rosen as toastmaster. For 2011, SoonerCon moved downtown June 3-5 to the Sheraton "Century Center" of SoonerCons and ThunderCons of old, switched from a title using years to sequential numbers (at 20), and featured a theme "Heroes & Villains" with author Tim Powers as guest of honor. SoonerCon 21 proclaimed "I'll Be Back to the Future" at the Sheraton June 15-17 (a time slot shift) with author Eric Flint and Selina Rosen. For SoonerCon 22, the con themed "Beyond Thunderdome" moved just east of downtown to the Reed Conference Center at Rose State College in Midwest City and Sheraton Midwest City, and to end of the month: June 28-30. 2013 guests were Oklahoma author C.J. Cherryh as guest of honor, writers workshop leader Tim Powers, artist and comic illustrator Mark Texeira. Ric Meyers—and perennial toastmaster Selina Rosen.
SoonerCon's current sister convention is the fan-run "Halloween culture" convention, TrickConTreat. TrickConTreat was held October 3–5, 2008, at the Holiday Inn & Suites Oklahoma City North location, 6200 N Robinson Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73118. Activities included children's programming, hands-on makeup and costuming workshops, an art show, unique vendors and exhibitors, ghost-hunting information from local paranormal investigators, a charity auction to benefit The Bella Foundation, and what has been deemed the first ever Hearse and Shock-Rod Show in the state of Oklahoma. The 2009 event was cancelled with a promise of a return in 2010.