August Party

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Star Trek Convention
Name: August Party
Dates: 1975-1995
Frequency:
Location:
Type:
Focus:
Organization: Star Trek: TOS
Founder:
Founding Date:
URL:
cover of 1978 program guide
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Contents

The first media fan con (i.e., run by fans, for fans, with no guest stars) was August Party, in August 1975, chaired by Rich Kolker. Mary D. Bloemker ran registration, and Dusty Jones was a co-chair. [1]

The Roddenberry Phone Calls

From Boldly Writing: "The August Party convention was held in Maryland in the 1970s. It always featured a long-distance call with Gene Roddenberry, and the information would then be passed along to the rest of fandom, often by way of reports in various zines."

The Roddenberry Phone Call is an example of TPTB's Involvement and Interference.

See: The Roddenberry Phone Call.

The 1975 Con

The August Party is especially designed for Star Trek fans -- the purpose is not to meet stars, or see panels, or films. This is a con where you can meet your friends. It is being advertised only through fannish channels, to keep it small and non-commercial. The August Party will be held at the University of Maryland at College Park just a 'stone's throw from Washington, D.C.' There will be a huckster's room, but only for zines and clubs; there will be also be an art show, a memorbelia auction (bring your own!) and a film room showing many amateur ST and SF films that have bring made... The August Party will be held August 1, 2, and 3. Registration, which will be limited to 750 people, is $2.50 in advance and $4.00 at the door... Room rates will be $6.50 for a single and $11.00 for doubles... [2]

The 1976 Con

At August Party '76, I'm introduced to other fanzines - and it's a little scary, because people are really serious about this stuff! At our dealer's table, I'm sitting right next to a very nice lady who gets pretty weird when she starts talking about being "inducted into Kraith." I know nothing about this, and I'm starting to edge toward the exit. Then I meet Mary D. Bloemker, and discover the world of media fandom. My life will never be the same. [3]

The 1977 Con

Registration was limited to 1500.

From an ad in Scuttlebutt #2: "August 5.-7, takes place at the University of Maryland... Registration is $3.50 in advance, $5 at the door... Make checks out to U.M.A.S.T... Events include the 1st Annual Federation Gong Show, a Costume Call, and an Art Show. There will also be a 'Write Your Own Zine' room for the talented/ambitious/energetic. Tales are available in the Huckster Room for $10/fans and $15/pros."

The 1978 Con

ad for the fourth August Party from A Piece of the Action #62

This con was held August 4-6, 1978. There is a transcript of the Roddenberry Phone Call in A Piece of the Action #66 and a short con report in #67 that "proved once again that a successful convention can be held without Big Name 'Stars.' Over 1100 fans attended and from all reports, had a fine time. There were panels on Fandom, films, costumes, a Gong Show, a busy Dealer's Room, but the fans themselves made it worth all the while."

A con report:
August Party is a fan-orientated Star Trek con held annually by the Maryland State University Star Trek Club. This year, as Margaret Draper and I intended to be in the United States while August Party was on we decided to attend. It wasn't easy, because many Americans just don't take enquiries from abroad seriously, as those of you who have sent for information on American zines will know! However, with the help of Linda M and one enlightened member of the con committee we finally got registered. Ann Looker joined us, clutching her Fan Fund award envelope and a registration numbered 'position 69', for some reason she kept looking at this and laughing. My registration number was Position 94 - which caused her even more unexplained hilarity... We arrived just in time to register and catch the last half of This Side of Paradise. Then we perused the calendar of events. We were surprised to see this item scheduled for Saturday afternoon - 'Panel, Star Trek Fandom in Britain'. We wondered who was on the panel. Ann enquired just in case we knew them - we did! Our worst fears wore confirmed. We were the panel. I had yet another nasty shock, Ann turned up for the panel wearing a tee-shirt bearing a very pretty picture of Spock establishing a mind-meld on her left breast! She informed me the picture was called 'The Groping Spock'. I couldn't under- stand why. For a while I thought l thought Margaret Draper wasn't going to turn up at all, her nerves having driven her into fleeing the country. But I had doubted her unnecessarily, she arrived just as we were about to start, wearing her fixed smile and a tee-shirt sporting the legend, 'I have abandoned my search for truth and am now looking for a good fantasy'. It appeared I was the only panel-member not equipped with a witty tee-shirt. Had I been the type to stick drawings or sayings on my somewhat ample chest I think I would have chosen "We who are about to die, salute you!' as being tho most appropriate. Anyway it wasn't as bad as we thought and we managed to fill seventy minutes on British Star Trek Fandom. If someone from America buttonholes you at Sea-con '79 and declares 'I've heard all about you British Trekkers' you can blame us, but I can't actually remember a thing we said! After that ordeal was over the rest of the con was great. I got to know a whole lot of people who were previously just names in fanzines. Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Devra Langsam, Leslie Fish, Trinette Kern and many others. We sold all our zines, but it didn't make any difference to our luggage because we bought as many as we sold! I went to a filk-singing evening, having 'lost' Ann and Margaret on the way, and was both flattered and embarrassed when everyone stood up and sang' God Save the Queen' at the end. I wondered if they'd got us confused, after all she's called Elizabeth too! [4]

The 1979 Con

cover of 1979, artist appears to be Gordon Carleton
A con report:
During the course of the Welcommittee meeting at August Party, I casually announced that I was attending my first con ever, although I've been an active fan and STW crew member since 1976. After everyone had recovered from their shock at my statement our chairperson, Shirley Maiewski, asked me to write a short article for APOTA about my impressions of my first con... I'm very pleased that I chose August Party as my first con. It was very pleasant and relaxed. I only caught one panel, a few films and of course the Costume Call, "Not the Gong Show," and Gene Roddenberry's Phone call!! Taking the cue from my more con-experienced colleagues, I mostly went to meet my fellow fans, especially those creative efforts in music, artwork, writing, and editing I've enjoyed so much since becoming a fan. I'd like to thank the August Party con committee for thier fine job in programming since what events I did attend, I enjoyed. Rich Kolker with his big, lovable grin, was an outstanding MC at the costume call and "Not the Gong Show." I congratulate him for his great perseverance with the technical difficulties during GR's phone call. I would have given up after the fifth time the phone connection blew, but since Rich isn't me, we all got to eventually hear and enjoy Gene's voice and the latest news about the ST movie. I spent a good deal of time in the huckster's room learning to huckst(?). I lent Trinette Kern a helping hand at her table Saturday, and Lori Chapek-Carleton on Sunday, gaining valuable insight about fans who fork over all kinds of money for all kinds of zines. I was wondering what kind of jobs they had that enabled them to walk out with stacks of zines taller than they were? I left the con considerably richer in ST/SW reading material myself! In the hucksters room I met the most people. The delightfully enthusiastic Leah Rosenthal and Roberta Rogow, kept me entertained for hours with their very vocal selling techniques. The room parties at night were real high points of the con. At one we all sat around watching "Journey to Babel" at another I enjoyed listening to the filk and folk songs performed by the talented group there. I'll always look back on the last August Party as one of the highlights of my fannish life. [5]

1980

There was no con held in 1980.

1981

August Party was held August 7-9, 1981 at the Rosslyn Westpark Hotel in Maryland. Membership was limited to 900. The theme of the program was "The Next Generation... What Can We Teach Them?"

In May 1981, one of the organizers had this plea:
August Party is in bad financial shape...I just had to kick in my income tax refund to keep it going. So we need memberships now. I know about the financial problems we're all going through, but if people plan to go to Washington this summer, could they please send in their money now. Even if they're not coming. We didn't plan to do this convention and emptied our account after 1979. Right now, there's less than $20 in check ing. I hope this sounds desperate enough, because it is. [6]
A con report:
The con itself was a lot of fun, but getting there and back again way lot. My car blew its transmission about fifty miles from home… We had been making really good time until then. We finally reached Washington and the hotel at ten Friday night. We had left it nine Friday morning, and I had started on the trip right after working in eight hour shift. I wasn't even making sense by the time we hit the hotel lobby. We not only missed the beginning of the con, we also missed the Roddenberry call. We did enjoy what was left of the con, and I had the unique experience of going in the costume call for the first time in my life. It wasn't as bad as 1 had thought it would be. I also got to exchange a few words with Hal Clement (alias Harry Stubbs) and managed to remain coherent, a nice change of pace for me. August Party is really a nice, fan-oriented con, and I was sorry to hear that this was the last one. Of course, each one was supposed to be the last — this was the sixth or seventh — but I have a feeling they meant it.... Vida won an award for the most original costume when she showed up as an executioner from a Get Spock story, or, one of the writers from the new movie. She was wearing black leotards, tights, an executioner's mask, high-heeled boots, a green-stained sword, and was carrying a head of Spock. [7]

1985

August Party, the Tenth Anniversary, was held August 2-4, 1985 at the brand-new Hyatt Regency Bethesda. "Come to the con that set the standard for ST/M fan cons!"

1995

August Party 20th Anniversary, August 4-6, 1995. Washington, DC. Confirmed Guests: Guests, we don't need no stinkin' guests. We do have some interesting committee members though, like Peter David, Howie Weinstein , Dennis Russell Bailey and Lisa White. Possible Guests: Anything's possible, and we're talking to some interesting people, but if any Star Trek actors show up, it'll be a big surprise to us. Cost: $13 until 6/31/94, $15 until 12/31/94, $18 until 6/31/95 $19.95 after that and at the door. Dealers' Tables are 6' x 30" and cost $50 including 1 membership, limit 4 per dealer (we like a variety). Information: Rich Kolker ...

Information: It was at one of the original New York Star Trek conventions where the idea for August Party was born. At a late night party of fanzine editors, writers and artists, someone bemoaned that conventions were getting too big, expensive and commercial (this was in 1975!) and wouldn't it be nice if fans could just get together and celibate their common love of Star Trek? Six months later, the first August Party was held, in sweltering heat at the University of Maryland.

We eventually outgrew the University (and graduated along the way), but August Party continued. From 1975·79, then a year off and back in 1981, and a 10th Anniversary in 1985. After that, the committee scattered, as careers, families and burnout took its toil. But we stayed in touch, and stayed friends, and stayed fans, and decided it would be fun to see if we could recapture a bit of that spirit from the early days of Star Trek fandom.

The original starship Enterprise went on a five year mission, and fandom has had its share of five year missions as well. Through the years, we've fought to keep the show on NBC, protested its demise, forced animated and filmed versions of the original, and finally benefited from our years of work with new television series. We've written letters to NBC, Paramount and the Editor, published fanzines, and run conventions.

For August Party, we've broken it down like this:

  • Mission One (1966-1970) -First Flight
  • Mission Two (1971-1975) - A Quest, Not an Industry
  • Mission Three (1978-1980) - Triumph of the Will
  • Mission Four (1961-1985) - Holding Pattern
  • Mission Five (1986-1990) - A Generation of Change
  • Mission Six (1991-1995) - For ever, and ever, Hallelujah!
For each era there'll be a program discussing what was happening in Star Trek at the time, and what was happening in Star Trek fandom. Hear the real stories, of the protest at NBC in New York and Burbank the beginnings of Star Trek conventions, the story of how the first ST:TNG fanzine was written and published before "Encounter At Farpoint" had begun filming, and fanzines, video and audio tapes of convention programs, masquerades and shows dating back to the early 1970's. Of course, we'll have a dealers room, film (yes film) and video, filking performances and singalong, art show, open con suite and masquerade as well as the unforgettable Sundae Shaw, written as always (well usually anyway) by Peter David. We're open to ideas, and welcome the loan of materials or volunteering of help to make our look back (and forward) at Star Trek and its fandom the best and most fun it can be. [8]
"If you're a Trekkie
Stop
Reading
Now!

On the other hand, for the Star Trek fans out there... There was a time when all the Star Trek there was, was three seasons, 79 episodes. The show was canceled, and anyone you asked could tell you --

Canceled TV series never reappear.

This was the time in which Star Trek conventions began. There were no movies to discuss, no novels to criticize, no new episodes to watch. Nevertheless, fans gathered together to share their obsession. If there was no new Star Trek, they would make their own.

The fans didn't watch Star Trek, the fans were Star Trek. A fan built a copy of the bridge of the Enterprise. Fans invented a publishing industry for everything from anthologies to novels to the original Star Trek Concordance. And in 1972, fans gathered together for the first time simply to celebrate Star Trek.

A couple of years later, Star Trek conventions came to Washington (actually the University of Maryland). More than a thousand people spent the first weekend of August, 1975 together. They didn't need actors to make it a Star Trek convention, because the fans were Star Trek. And they still are!

Join your fellow fans at a convention like no other. Where the people who are guests at other conventions (like Peter David and Howie Weinstein) are on the committee. Where you aren't the audience...

You are the convention!
When: August 4-6 1995
Where: Hilton, Gaithersburg, MD
How much:
$15 - until 12/31/94
$18 - until 6/31/95
$19.95 after that and at the door
(because no convention is worth more than $20)
Dealers' Tables are 6' x 30 and cost $50, limit 4 per dealer
Hotel Rooms $55

Star Trek fans come from a different heritage from fans of things like soap operas and rock bands. We gathered together to raise a television show from the dead, and we succeeded, beyond our wildest dreams. Join us to celebrate that heritage.

  • 30 years of Star Trek and fandom - our six, 5 year missions
  • The Space Program and Star Trek-the right stuff meets the final frontier
  • Teleconferences in the tradition of the Roddenberry Phone Call
  • Replays of past August Parties including Roddenberry calls, Sundae Shows, Costumes
  • Masquerade for costumers from beginners to experts
  • New Sundae Show production written by Peter David
  • Filksongs for listening and for singing
  • Miscellaneous astronauts, writers, congressional staffers, etc. who are also fans
  • Our open con suite for conversation and munching
  • Dealers, Art show
  • Film and video
Join us as we celebrate the real stars of Star Trek...you"[9]

References

  1. The following year, the American Midwest's first media fan con was held: SeKWester*Con (pronounced "sequester con") in Kalamazoo, Michigan -- from Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987
  2. from The Halkan Council #8
  3. from My Life in Fandom, Deb Walsh, accessed 8.24.2011
  4. from STAG #31
  5. from Carol Mularski in A Piece of the Action #78
  6. from Interstat #43
  7. from TREKisM #22
  8. ad at Gryphon
  9. August Party (w/date this time) posted on Nov 8, 1994 to rec.arts.sf.fandom.
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