UBCon takes over the Student Union
Annual event fills campus with games, contests and characters
The Student Union was bustling with cosplayers by 12 p.m. on Saturday.
This year’s UBCon had something for everyone, from different takes on Marvel and DC characters like Harley Quinn and the X-Men to movie characters and pop-culture references. UB’s Strategists and Role Players Association planned the event, which began on Friday and ran through Sunday.
This year’s convention, titled UBCon XXX, followed the theme “A Lasting Legacy” and celebrated the greater Buffalo fandom community’s 30-year growth.
“Each year, we have a different theme,” said Lucas Heldwein, vice president of SARPA and convention director for UBCon. “This year, since it’s our 30th anniversary, it’s ‘A Lasting Legacy.’ We have the X, like the double helix in DNA.”
Heldwein said SARPA couldn't tell exact attendance numbers, but said ticket sales surpassed 2,200 for the weekend.
“In the first few years, [UBCon] was maybe only a couple hundred people, and it’s grown ever since,” Heldwein said.
Crowds assembled as early as Friday for registration, with various attendees and vendors extending up the stairs of the Student Union to prepare for the event. The Student Union was the de-facto event hub, while events and cosplayers extended toward Baldy Hall, O’Brian Hall and Knox Hall. Vendors occupied various locations throughout the Student Union, making use of both the first and second floor for various displays of anime and cosplay-related displays for viewing and products for purchase.
Delyn Hart, a local vendor in UBCon’s Artist Alley –– where vendors displayed and sold a variety of work –– said she found the allotted space as a positive change from last year and a way to engage attendees with her art.
“I actually learned about UBCon online [and] from friends,” Hart said. "When I first attended two years ago, it was a lot more cramped. Since last year, I’ve had a table in the Artist Alley, and the income from that has been really helpful. The art that I’m tabling is the product of over two years of work.”
Erik Romig, a vendor and attendee, showed off handmade plushes, cosplay kimono dresses and Pokémon ears at the event.
“I definitely enjoy seeing everybody in their costumes," Romig said. That’s like one of the biggest reasons I come to conventions. Selling at conventions also helps me pay for my own costumes.”
UBCon also featured several guest appearances from the Buffalo cosplay community, such as Ian Sinclair and David Schwartz. Sinclair, a 15-year veteran in the anime world, has directed and lent voice acting to works like “Dragon Ball Super,” “One Piece” and “Black Clover.” Sinclair works with production companies Funimation and Sentai Filmworks, while Schwartz has been a member of the UBCon planning board since 2002 as well running his own improv show, according to SARPA.
Arthur Wilson, a high school junior and attendee, found this year’s UBCon to be more wide-ranging and inclusive than past years.
“This is my third year at UBCon. … My favorite part of the weekend is definitely the cosplay contest,” Wilson said. “Even if you’re not competing, it’s fun to watch and see the work everyone puts into their cosplay.”
Previous attendees returned this year with some coming back to Buffalo just for the event. Jordan Quiñones Walker, a Daemen College graduate and cosplayer, said she sees UBCon as a vehicle to stay connected with friends.
“It’s interesting because I have ‘con-friends’ that I only get to see when I attend cons across the country. I came back to Buffalo from Indiana to get to see some of those friends.”
Heldwein, at the beginning of the event, credited the Student Association with helping to grow this year’s UBCon.
“We are really hoping for more student engagement this year, and if not, next year we’re hoping to grow that even further, to make sure people on campus know exactly what UBCon is.”
The arts desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect pronoun for Jordan Quiñones Walker.