Weekends during the summer in Baltimore usually bring in huge crowds for events near the Inner Harbor, including action-packed baseball games with the local Baltimore Orioles. The weekend of Aug. 1 through Aug. 3, however, also played home to BronyCon, an annual convention for fans of the popular animated series, "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic." Over 9,000 attendees filled the Baltimore Convention Center to celebrate the growing fandom for the newest incarnation of the popular children's animated series by Hasbro.
Tim Sloacek, a fan who traveled from Seattle to attend, says traveling cross-country is worth it when you have friends and people to hang out with for the weekend. "The MLP fandom is highly connected online and conventions like this give us the opportunity to meet friends we've made in person and meet and make new friends," Tim says as he bumps fists with a friend, often referred to as a brohoof. “I was constantly with friends when not running the vendor booth and I still couldn't meet up with all my friends at Bronycon.”
Throughout the weekend, BronyCon featured over a hundred different panels, with different topics like becoming a voice actor to panels about drawing, all with the unifying goal of the love and appreciation for “My Little Pony." Donald Rhodes, known in the MLP fandom as “Dustykatt,” was a part of "Bronies and Bullying," where fans discuss the rise in bullying among MLP fans and in general. As Donald will tell you, these panels not only inform attendees, but also provide a support group for those who were and continue to be bullied.
“I've been involved in these types of panels for the last three conventions I've attended and I love being able to share my past with these kids, and older bronies, showing them that it gets better,” says Donald. “Guys like myself have all been through what you are going through. If we can inspire one Brony to stand up and be able to get through a bullying situation then what I went through being a bullied kid will be worth it.”
Along with meeting and making new friends, BronyCon also brings guests to their convention each year so fans can talk and interact with the people who work behind the scenes on the series. Peter New, who voices big brother Big MacIntosh, enjoys meeting fans of the series and thinks any fan of the series, young or old, should attend the annual convention at least once.
What I found most striking and positive, was the degree to which the surrounding community integrated with it and not only accepted it, but endorsed and promoted it. Baltimore did much more, it seemed, than any other host city to welcome a league of brightly colored pony fans to its' shores and thus to support the fan base. The con had a ton to offer, too of course, but for that experience, one really ought to attend it."
Plans are already bring made for next year's event, set to take place the weekend of Aug. 7, 2015.