As I write this, it’s the Monday after the 2018 Pure Speculation Festival.
It’s always bittersweet when the festival closes for another year. I’ve poured so much energy into this event and I am equal parts proud and humbled when it comes off. It’s this thing I’ve helped shape that exists for a day and a half, and then is gone. And the hole it leaves when it passes surprises me every year.
Maybe it shouldn’t though. Getting to spend a weekend with the Edmonton nerd community, sharing the things we love all together in one space like that, those opportunities are rare. Missing that when it’s over shouldn’t be surprising at all, and yet here I am.
This year, though, I’m not feeling the absence as strongly. For me this year’s festival marked a turning point for the festival. During the times I got to walk the floor, and in the panels I sat, the festival felt more energized than it had in previous years. More than I have at any previous event I really felt attendees coming together as a community. Attendance was up this year, but it was more than just having extra bodies in the space (though I will never complain about more people coming out, believe me). This year I really felt like folks were getting the type of event we’re trying to present, and that’s a good feeling. It fills me with hope for the future of the festival, and the future of our geeky community in Edmonton.
As I said several times during the festival I don’t do this alone, and so I have so many people to thank.
First and foremost, a huge thank-you to our volunteers who stepped up and helped us keep the festival running smoothly. Every one of them made the work of running a successful event a little less like work. A special thank-you to the Klingons of IKV Swifthawk who provided our security. This marks the first time our security had to do a little bit more than wander and look imposing, and they stepped up admirably.
Thank-you to the vendors and artists, returning and new, who filled out our main hall this year. It never ceases to amaze me at the sheer number of talented people who live here and do nerdy, artistic things. I’m thrilled that so many of you join us for this celebration; as much as anything else at the festival, folks come to see you. And well they should.
Thank-you to all our panelists and demonstrators, another major part of the festival’s attraction. Every year I’m excited to see what will show up in our panel proposals, and you never let me down, Edmonton nerds! We covered such a broad range of topics this year, funny to serious, sci-fi to fantasy, and every blend in between. And though it’s a low bar as these things go, we didn’t just have gender parity this year, we had an almost 2:1 ratio of women/non-binary presenters to male presenters. Probably the single best thing about that ratio? It felt good and normal, so normal that no one commented on it during the festival itself. While I have plans to improve our inclusivity, I’m very proud of the strides we’ve taken.
And how can I adequately thank our Guests of Honour, Krista D. Ball, Candas Jane Dorsey, and Sam Maggs? Asking someone to be a Guest of Honour is basically saying, “You are the face of the festival this year”. I would have been happy to have any one of these three amazing women as the face of Pure Speculation; getting all three of them at once was a dream team. Based on the reactions from attendees I know you all agree with me. Thank-you from the bottom of my heart for coming out to share your time and thoughts with the Edmonton community.
Thank-you to our sponsors, new, old, and returning. On Spec Magazine has supported us from the beginning in ways I can’t count, and that support has been valued. Edmonton Nerd List returned as a sponsor this year, and in Kelly Froese we get a sponsor just as excited by all the nerdy goings on in Edmonton as we are. And of course, our new sponsor in the City of Edmonton, helping us to fit into the community of Alberta Avenue.
A big thank-you to Mike Kendrick of Ironclad Folly, for his excellent work on the art for this year’s poster, and the next year’s as well. He took my ideas of “building something together” and “taking a journey together” and ran with them, and I’m thrilled with the results.
Thank-you seems too small a word to give my fellow organizers, and yet they deserve it perhaps most of all. Every year they come on this mad little journey with me, shouldering a great deal of the burden, and with so little complaint it humbles me. We are looking for a few more folks to join their ranks, but know that you have some stellar examples to live up to.
And finally, I want to thank the community. We do this festival for you, and ultimately couldn’t do it without you. You bring your enthusiasm and energy to this festival, and you are all of you an invaluable part of this event every year. I hope you’ll keep taking the journey with us.
We’re all going to take a little break, and then start updating things for next year. Look for updates to show up relatively soon. In the meantime, thank-you, and enjoy your summer, Edmonton nerds!