Interview about Geekfest 2013

By Chris McGinty

Nathan and I have been watching
for conventions and other sci-fi and Anime themed shows to sell at, and that is
how we found out about Geekfest 2013 in Killeen,
Texas, which will run on August
16-18, 2013. I asked for an interview and received a speedy reply from Barbara
Merlo, Director of Marketing and Outreach. 
ATW: How did Geekfest start?
Barbara: One of our student
ambassadors, Jennifer Hetzel (who is now an employee and one of our three
primary event POCs) came up with the idea of doing something related to
sci-fi.  She teamed up with Fred Chavez (another of the three), our
planetarium director and they brainstormed. I joined the team to try to figure
out how we could maximize the money-making effort and Geekfest was born! 
We added a few members to our planning committee and started working on vendors
and volunteer presenters and we were on our way.
ATW: How many years has Geekfest
been running?
Barbara: This will be the fourth
ATW: Before we get into what
Geekfest 2013 offers, can you tell me a little about Central
Texas College
in Killeen Texas?
Barbara: We are a public,
accredited community college with about 13,000 students in Texas, but more than 70,000 around the
world.  We are located across the street from Ft Hood, so many of our
local students have some affiliation with the military. In addition, we operate
on military installations worldwide and ships at sea.
ATW: Your website says that
proceeds from Geekfest 2013 go to the CTC Student Ambassador Program. Can you
tell us about the program?
Barbara: Our student ambassadors
provide tours of our campus and do outreach in our local schools. They go to
middle schools and tell their college story, which often includes barriers and
bumps along the way, so that all our local youth see college as attainable. All
are students, and the funds raised help compensate them for their time so that
they can focus on school and not have to get other jobs.
ATW: Please tell us a little bit
about Geek Fest 2013.
Barbara: We will have many
flavors of Geek! 
Our programs and guests will
feature costuming clubs, along with programs on all types of gaming, anime,
Steampunk, special effects, comics, Cosplay, Brony panels, live podcasts, kids
programs like Robotics, tons of Harry Potter programs for adults and kids
(including Quidditch) and a Humans vs Zombies game. Most programs are free,
however we do have a wristband for admission to movies in our 60’ dome, to
watch our video game tournaments, and select other programs.
We will host our annual screening
of Rocky Horror Picture Show on both Friday and Saturday night—featuring the
Queerios shadow cast on Friday and a local shadow cast on Saturday.  We
will also show the classic sci-fi flick “The Fifth Element” on Saturday.
Being in a military community, we
focus on a wide variety of programs—but our favorite part of Geekfest is
watching parents introduce their kids to the world of Geek! We try to have kids
programming during the day, and this year we are excited about a Dungeons and
Dragons for kids program!
We will hold our annual “Humans
vs. Zombies” game, this year with a pirate theme, on Saturday morning.
Our vendor area will be in a
separate building, along with food and entertainment. We hope to keep the day
full of demos and music in that area.  We will accept vendors up until
July 26 and programs up until August 2.  Vendor spaces are $100, and half
can be paid with merchandise or services. We will be holding prize drawings
during the event—tickets to win will be issued with wristbands, and additional
tickets may be purchased.
For more info, follow us on
facebook at
or check out our website at

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