Dragon Con (previously Dragon*Con and sometimes DragonCon) is a North America multigenre
convention, founded in 1987, which takes place once each year in Atlanta, Georgia. As of 2012, the convention draws attendance of 52,000, features hundreds of guests, encompasses five hotels in
the Peachtree Center neighborhood of downtown Atlanta near Centennial Olympic Park, and runs thousands of hours of programming for fans of science fiction, fantasy, comic books, and other
elements of fan culture. It is operated by a private for-profit corporation, with the help of a 1,500-member volunteer staff. Dragon Con has hosted the 1990 Origins Game Fair and the 1995 North
American Science Fiction Convention (NASFIC).
Dragon Con was launched in 1987, as a project of a local science fiction and gaming group, the Dragon Alliance of Gamers and Role-Players (DAGR). It was founded by a board of directors including John Bunnell, Dave Cody, Robert Dennis, Mike Helba, Pat Henry, and Ed Kramer.
The name "Dragon" for the club was derived from Kramer's Dragon Computer (a European version of Radio Shack's Color Computer), which hosted a local Bulletin Board System ("The Dragon") that initially served as a central hub for both organizations. The inaugural Dragon*Con flyers debuted at the 1986 Atlanta Worldcon, ConFederation. Within a year, Dragon*Con had been selected to be the host of the 1990 Origins convention, to take place at the Atlanta Hilton.
The 1987 inaugural Dragon*Con took place at the Piedmont Plaza Hotel, drew 1400 fans, and featured Guest of Honor Michael Moorcock, Lynn Abbey and Robert Asprin, Robert Adams, Ultima creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons Gary Gygax and Toastmaster Brad Strickland. Miramar recording artist Jonn Serrie delivered his keyboard arrangements from within a real NASA flightsuit and Michael Moorcock performed onstage with Blue Oyster Cult's Eric Bloom, singing "Veteran Of the Psychic Wars" and "Black Blade". Thomas E. Fuller's Atlanta Radio Theatre Company performed H. P. Lovecraft's Call Of Cthulhu, which was broadcast via radio live from onsite. The 1988 convention included guests Alan Dean Foster, Fred Saberhagen, Magaret Weis, Tracy Hickman, Gary Gygax, and Larry Elmore.
The convention grew rapidly. In 1989, it drew 2,400 fans (many to see Guest of Honor Anne McCaffrey), and the event had moved to the Omni Hotel and Convention Center. In 1990, the convention had doubled again, added a Comics Expo, hosted the Origins convention, this time with Guest of Honor Tom Clancy, and expanded to include the Atlanta Sheraton hotel. In 1991 the first "Robot Battles" robotic competition event was added to the list of Dragon*Con events, making it the second oldest robotic competition event in the world.
From 1993–1995, Dragon*Con was the home of the Wizard Fan Awards.
By 1995, when Dragon*Con hosted the North American Science Fiction Convention, attendance had grown to over 14,000 fans, and Dragon*Con was also hosting the International Starfleet Conference. In 1999, Dragon*Con's TrekTrak introduced the first Miss Klingon Empire Beauty Pageant, an annual event that has since garnered national media attention. In 2000, Ed Kramer ceased to have an active role in managing the convention; but he still owned 34% of the company, and in 2011 leveled charges that he is not getting his fair share of the profits it generates. Kramer's relationship with the convention was ended in July 2013 in a cash-out merger.
In 2002, Dragon*Con began hosting a parade through downtown Atlanta, which ran from Centennial Olympic Park to the Marriott Marquis, and featured thousands of costumed participants. In 2005, Dragon*Con raised USD $20,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation. At the convention's 20th anniversary in 2006, there were 22,000 attendees, and the convention continued to grow, drawing 27,000 attendees in 2007, 40,000 in 2010, and 57,000 in 2013.
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