Dixie Trek

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Convention
Name: Dixie Trek
Dates: 1979-1995
Frequency:
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Type: fan-run, celebrity guests of honor
Focus: Star Trek and other media
Organization: Atlanta Star Trek Society
Founder: William Smith and Owen Ogletree
Founding Date:
URL: Dixie Trek Facebook page
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Dixie Trek was a Star Trek and other media con held in Atlanta.

It is the successor to Emory Trek.

Connection to Public Television

The single most contributing factor that led to the success of Dixie Trek's 14 year run was due to William Smith and his relationship with Georgia Public Television. Bill got us involved with fundraising at the station and as a result of "Doctor Who Nights" being among the highest money making evenings every quarter, they rewarded us by coming out to the convention and covering it live on Saturday nights. [1]

1979

October 27, 1979

1984

It took place in the spring of 1984. Mark Lenard was the celebrity guest of honor.

1985

It was held at North Lake Hilton. Majel Barrett was a celebrity guest of honor.

1986

1987

It was held May 22-24th at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta.

1988

May 13-15, Sheraton Century Center Hotel, Atlanta GA

Terry Nation was in attendance. Other guests: Jonathan Frakes, Julie Newmar (FRIDAY'S CHILD). Cost was $28/3 days at the door.

1989

1990

front cover of the 1990 program book
back cover of the 1990 program book

Dixie Trek 1990 was dedicated to the memory of Jim Henson.

Guests of Honor were Denise Crosby, Billy Mumy, Dave Jackson, Dave McDonnell, Mark Goddard. Other guests were George Perez, Greg Baker, Craig Brasfield, Phoenica, Pat Broderick, Bob Burden, Jean Lorrah, Bill King, Michael K. Bell, Cheryl Mandus, Frank Turner, Paul Monroe, Joseph Phillips, Richard Arnold, Mark Triplett, Wayne Vasant, Lamar Waldron, and Melody Hall.

1990: Con Reports

STARDATE: 9006.16 - We went to Atlanta, Georgia for the 10th annual DIXIE TREK. The list of guest stars was incredible: Denise Crosby, Dave Jackson ("Gan" from Blake's Seven), Dave McDonnell (Starlog editor), Jean Lorran (Star Trek novelist), Richard Arnold (Star Trek archivist), Cheryl Mandus (Star Trek artist), and 11 other Star Trek lst's, mostly working in the comic book industry. Last, but not least, Billy Mumy (Will Robinson) and Mark Goddard (Don West) from Lost in Space, who were there to celebrate the 25th anniversary of L.I.S. (This was an added surprise - I came to see Denise!) The first day (Friday) there was not too much going on. We perused the dealers' rooms, mostly scrounging around for the item that you don't know is there; in fact, you don't even know what it is, but when you find it, you will sell half the members of your family to the gypsies to be able to buy it. I found mine: a kit to make a next generation tricorder for a fraction of the price of a finished one. BOOM! Shot a big hole in my minute bankroll, but hey, isn't that what God created dealers' rooms for? Of course! To prove the axiom that a fool dressed in a Starfleet uniform and his money are soon parted!

On Saturday, we went to see Billy (now it's Bill) Mumy and Mark Goddard. They were very entertaining. Some of the old L.T.S. costumes and props were brought out and they enjoyed explaining them and answering questions. Then it was time for Richard Arnold. He didn't have much new information other than the season finale will be a cliffhanger, an one or more characters may or may not be back next season (That's as much detail as be would go into). I can't believe anyone would want off the show now, but you never know... Patrick Stewart doesn't have to polish his head every week to do those Pontiac commercials... (and he actually thought people wouldn't recognize his voice!) Next up was Denise Crosby. She was as warm and effervescent as ever - I think she really likes doing cons. (See last month's column for details of a con appearance by Denise.) The last event of the evening was the inevitable costume contest. I actually entered this one, with a new strategy: I entered as commander Riker (whom everyone knows) instead of entering as me (whom nobody knows) - The result: I still lost! But I learned something from looking at my pictures: I look nothing like Will Riker! But if you think about it, if he entered a "Pat Heinske costume" contest, Johnathan Frakes would lose, and I would win! So, that made me feel better.

Sunday was pretty much a repeat of something Saturday, you could catch it on Sunday. Later that evening, I went down to the bar in the lobby to indulge myself with some evil juice, and as I sat down, I realized that Mark Goddard was sitting 1 stool away from me! We started talking and then we spent the next couple of hours buying each other drinks and talking about things other than L.I.S., since he seemed to tire of that subject almost immediately when he wasn't behind a podium.

This experience is in close competition as the high point of the convention with the look on Denise's face when I asked her to autograph a photo and she recognized it as the one I had mom take of me with her (or her with me, if you'd rather) in Orlando the weekend before. I saw the line of people all with the same photos you see at every con, and so when it was my turn, I handed it to her and said, "I bet you haven't seen this one before!" She looked, and broke out in a big smile and said, "Hey, last weekend in Orlando! I remember this!" and happily signed it.

Well, that's about it for DIXIE TREK. [2]

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

Booklets

Badges

Pictures

Con Reports

The Dixie Trek/Big Bang/Wil Wheaton Connection

If you are reading this, you are familiar with The Big Bang Theory and the legendary rivalry between Sheldon Cooper and Wil Wheaton. It started in the episode "The Creeping Candy Coating Corollary."

In the episode, Sheldon revealed the feud's origin: He went to a convention named Dixie Trek to see his idol Wheaton in person. Wil failed to appear and Sheldon was devastated, thus setting up a long seething hatred of all things Wesley Crusher.

It turns out that the Dixie Trek mentioned in the show was a real convention. I was one of the founders.

How many of you knew that Dixie Trek was real? Let’s see a show of hands. You in the blue and white striped shirt. Are you stretching or raising your hand? Oh. Well, then. That few.

Come with me back to 1980 in Atlanta, GA, where a group of Star Trek fans formed The Atlanta Star Trek Society and put on Emory Trek, their first convention, on the campus of Emory University. Two years later yours truly was vice-president of the group, and we were looking to expand the show. Dixie Trek was chosen as its new name.

Our guest list grew with us, and soon included actors from Doctor Who, Lost in Space and of course Star Trek.

Our contact at Paramount Richard Arnold helped us secure many of the Trek guests. Richard represented himself as a Star Trek authority, so much so that he became the "Archivist" in Star Trek: The Next Generation credits.

When we visited him at the studio. it became apparent that he was a gofer who handled the fan mail. This was proved correct within a month of Gene Roddenberry’s passing in 1991, as he was off the lot and out of the show’s credits! He did get us such celebs as Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Denise Crosby and Gates McFadden, who had to bow out due to travel restrictions during pregnancy.

When we stopped wanting Richard to be a paid guest at Dixie Trek, he was of no help getting us cast members. So, alas, Wil Wheaton never made it to an actual Dixie Trek!

The convention ended in 1994, with Christopher Reeve making his only convention appearance ever.

By the time the convention took place, according to the Big Bang episode, in Mississippi in 1995, the real Dixie Trek had closed her doors and turned off the lights.

Now imagine my surprise -- as one of the convention founders -- when I am watching The Big Bang Theory on October 19, 2009 and Sheldon says Dixie Trek is where he began loathing Wil Wheaton.

The next day I did some searching, and called the studio and spoke to one of the writers and thanked him for choosing my convention.

Flash forward to 2011 and DragonCon. In my capacity of director of the American Science Fiction Classics, I had the opportunity to talk with Wil about all this.

As I explained to him who I was and what I did, he had a small freak-out when I told him Dixie Trek was real. He said he had no idea and thought it was just made up by the writers. I told him that it was real, but located in Atlanta, not Jackson. [3]

References

  1. 2012 Facebook post by Ron Nastrom, [1]
  2. from The Wright Stuff, a newsletter for U.S.S. Kitty Hawk
  3. from : RevolutionSF - Big Bang Theory, Wil Wheaton, and Dixie Trek: When Worlds Collide : Feature, Archived version, Ron Nastrom, June 09, 2012