Space-Con (Star Trek and Science Fiction convention)

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Convention
Name: Space-Con
Dates: see below
Frequency:
Location: Bay Area, California
Type:
Focus: Star Trek and general Science Fiction convention, later much emphasis on Star Wars
Organization:
Founder: Chuck Weiss and Arian "Sandy" Sarris did the first, Terry Terman took over from there
Founding Date: 1975
URL:
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Contents

Space-Con (the first one was called "The Red Hour Festival" and the later cons were sometimes referred to as "Space... the Final Frontier") was a Star Trek and science fiction convention. After the third one, there was much focus on Star Wars. There were eight of these cons all together.

Space-Con was Northern California's first Star Trek convention.

Space-Con conventions were really big events for the mid 1970's. Each show drew well over 10,000 people. So they were well equipped to entertain that many fans. Memebers of the original Star Trek series were there, they had huge dealers' rooms, pleanty of film rooms so that you could see rare science fiction films on the screen. These were the days before home video, so it was still very rare to see movies other than waiting for them to come on the TV. During these 2 to 3 convention events, there was more than enough to do. [1]
Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, that changed in 1975. One fan group organized themselves and held what their first Star Trek event. They called it "The Red Hour Festival", taking the name from an event in an episode of the show. What they started that day is now recognized as the basis for Star Trek fan events that have followed over the years. This was an event produced by fans for fans. As Chuck Weiss, one of the folks behind the event described it; "This was a time when you could rent a high school for a day without having to worry about liability insurance." San Francisco's Lincoln High School was the perfect place for such an event. A large theater and good-sized cafeteria nearby just right for tables full of Star Trek items to be sold by vendors. And only two blocks away from public transit. [2]

A documentary movie about this con was released in 2011 and called Back to Space-Con.

The name "'Red Hour Festival" cam from an episode of Star Trek where the residents of Beta III, under the influence of the great Landru, would celebrate a solid hour of lawlessness, debauchery and chaos when the clock would strike the "Red Hour."

Space-Con 1

admission ticket for the first SpaceCon, otherwise known as the The Red Hour Festival
  • was called "The Red Hour Festival [3]
  • February 22, 1975
  • location: at Lincoln High School in San Francisco

Reactions and Reviews: Space-Con 1

The Red Hour Festival” was great fun. Dealers with all kinds of Star Trek and science fiction items to buy, a great carnival with Federation credits that one could trade for Star Trek prizes (a favorite game was the feeding of Vaal - another reference to a Star Trek episode), screenings of several episodes of the show on 16mm on the big screen in the school’s theater, and finally, appearances by some of the cast of the show. James Doohan, who played Scotty; George Takei, who played Sulu; Walter Koenig, who played Chekov; and Arlene Martel, who had appeared as Spock’s bride to be in the fan favorite episode, “Amok Time” - written by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon. But not only did these folks appear on stage and answer questions from the audience, they signed autographs for no extra charge. Somewhere, safely tucked away, I have several Federation credits from that day with each of their autographs. If memory serves, almost 4,000 fans were there. [4] Another fan disputes the that number, saying 2000 tickets were sold. [5]
back of admission ticket for SpaceCon 1. This ticket is for a dealer and reads Interstellar Trader

There is another long, detailed con report in A Piece of the Action #24.

The "red" in Red Hour could have been our bloodshot eyes after the whole ordeal was over. I won't say we didn't have our problems. On the contrary, there were several times when it looked like the whole thing might collapse, and it would have too, if it hadn't been for a few dedicated individuals (like Dick Carroll, who stayed at the school Friday night, when everyone was getting an autograph or two, to hold down the fort until reinforcements could arrive.) The real troupers, however, were the kids. One eight year old girl tended a carnival booth for three hours, took an hour break,.. and came back to work another three hours when we had trouble getting together another shift of workers. This kind of effort was typical of our younger members. But fortunately the minor disasters didn't show and the festival, all-in-all it was a big success. The carnival was a big hit too;. the three most popular 4 games being "Spin The Enterprise", "Throw a Tribble at a Klingon" and "Feed l Vaal". -I understand that the planning committee for Equicon '75 is interested in our bringing the carnival down south for their big convention this May. The concession area was always busy. Kathy and her workers dispensed food and drink to the hungry hordes. We still had a lot of food left over, however. The remaining hero sandwiches were downed with champagne at the Sunday night celebration party, while the unopened cases of candy went back to Willy Wonka for a full refund. The computer war games turned out to be the smoothest running operation going. Except for the 20 minutes when the computer went down, there wasn't a hitch. This attraction, along with the carnival, was something new for Star Trek conversions. And yes, Equicon '75 wants a computer war game, too. (They say that imitation is,the sincerest form of flattery.) I would say that the hardest part of the festival was telling that long line of mothers and children that there was no way they could all get an autograph. Those who were in the last part of the line, begged just for a glimpse of the guest stars, so we wound up herding them in a bunch at a time, just to stare and snap a picture or two. Just so long as they left smiling. I can t tell you the gross or net figures as far as money is concerned; our treasurer, Alice Aho, is better qualified in that area, but in all other respects I'd say that the First Annual Red Hour Festival was a smashing success. The biggest reward was to see all those happy people. Several times throughout the day, people would come up to me and say, "Thank you for putting this on." To many, it was the biggest event of the year, arid all who helped to pull it off deserve to be proud of what they did. As for those who stood on the side lines and didn't do anything (and unfortunately there were many), well, we' ll get you next year!!! [6]

Space-Con 2

  • August 7 & 8, 1976
  • location: the Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland (same as Oakland Municipal Auditorium?)

Reactions and Reviews: Space-Con 2

The next year, in August of 1976, Space-Con 2 was held in Oakland at the Kaiser Auditorium. This was a similar event to that of the previous year, but on a much larger scale. And this time, there would be a larger number of actors from Star Trek attending. Most notably, Deforest Kelley; who played Dr. McCoy; Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock; and William Shatner who played Captain Kirk. With more episodes show on the big screen, other sci-fi movie classics, an even larger dealers room and more, this was a big thing for Star Trek fans. Here were thousands of us, in a place that could hold us all, having a great time, sharing our interest in the show and what it promised for our futures. What was not to be excited about? [7]
It lived up to its billing as the 'largest Star Trek Convention on the West Coast' -- there were well over 10,000 attendees. The arena of the auditorium was filled several times, and alternate programming of films and science talks and writers' workshops were also well attended. Most of the ST cast members were there: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, James Doohan, DeForest Kelley, George Takei, Mark Lenard, Arlene Martel, and Bruch Hyde were all scheduled speakers; Majel Barrett was also there. Also there were a great number of space and NASA scientists—Gerald A. Soffen, Project Scientist of NASA's Viking Project; Jesco Von Puttkamer, Senior Staff Specialist in the Advanced Program Office of Space Flight; Dr. Kerry Mark Joels, with NASA/Ames Research Center; Andrew Fraknoi, an instructor of astronomy and physics at Canada College, Redwood City, CA, who spoke on "Can the Enterprise fly?;" not to mention Col. Alfred Worden, astronaut, Commander of Apollo XV. I was very pleased to see the interest and respect all of these men were accorded by the ST fen attending the con. Great interest was shown in what they had to say, belying the thought that Trekfen are only interested in Trekkie ideas! The Writer's Workshop on Saturday evening was well attended—speakers were: Theodore Sturgeon, who wrote 2 ST episodes; Robert Silverberg, Hugo and Nebula award winner; Eric Burgess, freelance author, lecturer, and journalist, who writes technical articles for NASA and many other astronautical societies; Frank Catalano, a freelance SF writer and radio personality in California; and myself, of STW, publisher of the fanzine "Alternate Universe 4" and author of the New Voyages story, "Mindsifter." The workshop was set up to help writers with questions about writing and publishing. Most attending were SF oriented, and many helpful suggestions were given by the experienced authors attending. I was able to help with questions about fan writing and fanzine publishing. While the con was very large, most people seemed pleased with what they "got" for their money. As always, there were a few who did not know what to expect, and were upset becuase they couldn't get the autographs of WS and LN—who were NOT giving ANY—and with good reason. They'd be there yet!! The other stars did have long autograph sessions, under difficult circumstances. Besides the writers at the Workshop, many others gave autographs and talked with the fen: Poul Anderson, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Richard Lupoff, Ray Faraday Nelson, and others. This was my first con in an auditorium; it was a bit difficult for people to get back and forth from hotels, etc. The guests were housed in a distant hotel, and therefore were not bothered by Trekkies and over-enthusiastic fans. There wos an excellent transportation system set up for them, and they were able to move about their hotel freely. Several mentioned how nice that was. When a con is held in the same hotel, they are trapped in their rooms for most of the time. There were problems--after all, it WAS a convention! The Dealers' Room was isolated on the 3rd floor, with almost no ventilation--IT WAS HOT!! A long line of would-be customers wound up several flights of stairs, and security had to let one in when one left. There was a small fire in an airduct one afternoon, when the room had to be closed for an hour and a half. The Art Show was hard to find, but worth the search. Some beautiful art was displayed—there is great talent in Trekdom! But a word of warning—your writer paid quite a lot for an excellent painting, only to have it stolen from what should have been a very safe place shortly afterwards! Keep your foot on what you buy! A word of praise should be given to the co-chairmen, Jonesy Parrinello and Patricia Lindl. They did yeoman work under difficult circumstances. Jim Parrinello, Commander of the Starfleet Shore Patrol (security) is another who should be mentioned. The San Francisco Bay Area has a lot of ST fen--they had a good con! Footnotes sent in by Bob Whatford: Special thanks should go to Bob Wilkins, who served Master of Ceremonies, and through his weekly TV show, "Creature Features," has consist ently been the source of much ST information over the past year. I found the combine: of a ST con and presentation by NASA scientists a very informative and unique experience. [8]

Space-Con 3

  • February 11-13, 1977
  • location: San Francisco Civic Auditorium

Reactions and Reviews: Space-Con 3

In 1977, the next Space-Con, 3, was to be held in San Francisco at the Civic Auditorium. Over the Presidents Day weekend. Having had so much fun before, I decided to expand my experience by volunteering to help with the event. As a gopher, I got my convention badge for free in return for working for 8 hours over the three days of the con. Traveling from home in Walnut Creek in the East Bay to San Francisco on the Friday before, I took a BART train to the City. Within minutes of boarding, I was chatting with a group of Star Trek fans wearing uniforms from the show... One of my Space-Con 3 duties was the checking of badges as folks came and went at the front doors of the Civic Auditorium. A rather amusing series of moments was provided by author Harlan Ellison (who wrote the original version of another fan favorite episode, “City On The Edge Of Forever). Over the course of the event, Harlan came and went with a series of different women, passing those doors. Space-Con 3 was a great mixture of Star Trek, science fiction and science fact. Convention chairman Terry Terman deserves a great deal of thanks for exposing people to the reality of space. One guest was Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who had served as a consultant to Steven Spielberg for his film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. His panel on UFO’s was something that many people enjoyed. But as much as “Close Encounters” would be a force at the box office that summer, attendees got a glimpse of another giant to be as they were shown a brief clip from another coming film, “Star Wars”. However, no one paid much attention to a kid in the audience who tried to convince them that he was up there on the screen in that clip. Who was he after all? Just another comic book fan, somone named Mark Hamill. [9]

Space-Con 4

flyer for Space-Con #4

Space-Con 4 was held in 1977.

Over 10,000 fans attended the Space-Cons 2, 3, 4 and 6 - in Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. And Paramount? Thanks to budget woes at Desilu (who first produced Star Trek), the series was not copyrighted in its first two seasons. It wasn't until the third season when Paramount stepped in that it took place. The result? Fans could have all of the Star Trek events they wanted, without worrying about licensing. Star Wars? Well, it was copyrighted from the word go. 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm had licensing underway from the start. At "Space-Con (Star Trek and Science Fiction convention)


Space-Con 5

1977

Space-Con 6

  • location: Kaiser Auditorium in Oakland, CA
  • 1978

Space-Con 7

cover of Space-Con #7's program book

Space-Con 7 was July 27-29, 1978

Space-Con 8

1980

References

  1. from the director of Back to Space-Con
  2. "Back to Space-Con" goes where no one has gone before, Jim Hill Media, accessed 5.11.2011
  3. Garfield Lane Productions, accessed 5.11.2011
  4. The Blue Parrot, accessed 5.11.2011
  5. from A Piece of the Action #24
  6. from Archives' Log v.2 n.4
  7. The Blue Parrot
  8. a con report by Shirley Maiewski from A Piece of the Action #43
  9. The Blue Parrot
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