Weird and wonderful weekend fun for June and July 2016

Hallway Cosplayers ScalePool and the mermaid Ruheil at the DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hallway Cosplayers ScalePool and the mermaid Ruheil at the DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Story time with the Brothers Grimm at the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival © 2016 John N Collins
Story time with the Brothers Grimm at the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival © 2016 John N Collins

As of this writing two Michigan cosplay events are winding to a close, JAFAX (Japanese Animation, Film, and Art Expo) and the Mid Michigan Renaissance Faire.  This weekends theme at the Mid Michigan Renaissance Faire is “When Worlds Collide” with Steampunk and Cosplay mixed in with the typical renaissance fare and Tardis too!  For $10 you can catch the music, food, cosplay chaos, and fantasy fun at the Mid Michigan Renaissance Festival’s Enchanted Forest 7464 Frankenmuth Rd, Vassar, Michigan 48768 until 7 p.m. tonight!

Fighting Fashion at the JAFAX fashion show © 2016 Aaron Robins
Fighting Fashion at the JAFAX fashion show © 2016 Aaron Robins

The JAFAX 2.0 reboot is the reincarnation of the long standing Anime event that was held at Grand Valley State University over the past couple decades.  The event has now graduated from the university with a degree in cosplay and has moved into the DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids.  According to the website to shorten the lines they have reopened the online preregistration so you can get through the line faster.  Thanks to the short lines it took less than 10 minutes to get a badge for the Weird Review’s attending press photographer, Aaron Robins.  Over the weekend furry folk from the Great Lakes Fur Con invaded JAFAX and later Saturday evening went out for bowling and pizza at Spectrum Lanes.  So for $25 you can go enjoy their panels and cosplay until 6 p.m. this evening.

Also in Grand Rapids over the weekend was the Sound of the City GR 2016, the launch event for the Radi8er music app.  The sound of the City included local bands like  Full Cat Astrophe, Lady Ace Boogie, and Lipstick Jodi.  These and other bands were at the Harris Building in downtown Grand Rapids to celebrate the release of the app that plans to change the way you listen to music online and on your phone by opening your ears to new Indie Artists and let you hear what others are listening to on their earbuds around you and around the country.

You may even find a familiar face of wizardry at the Blackrock Renaissance Festival ©2015 John N Collins
You may even find a familiar face of wizardry at the Blackrock Renaissance Festival ©2015 John N Collins

Next weekend is the three day, 4th of July weekend and there will be events going on from coast to coast.  Be careful with the fireworks folks!  The weekend of July 9, 2016 the Summer fun will really start to heat up with the first weekend of the Blackrock Renaissance Festival at the Olde World Village in Augusta, Michigan and the Anime Midwest con in Rosemont, Illinois.

The Blackrock Renaissance Festival will have sword fights, jousting, music, acrobats, jugglingPirates and Wenches, The Bluebeard, comedy, and belly dancing, on 5 stages and artists, exhibitors and food vendors in over 70 booths!

Former Steam Powered Giraffe band member Michael Phillip Reed and his buyers at Dante's Date Auction at Anime Midwest 2013  ©2013 John N Collins
Former Steam Powered Giraffe band member Michael Phillip Reed and his buyers at Dante’s Date Auction at Anime Midwest 2013 ©2013 John N Collins

Anime Midwest is bringing anime and steampunk stars from across the country with New York’s Frenchy and the Punk, Philadelphia (via Phoenix!) Mega Ran and San Diego’s Steam Powered Giraffe headlining the weekends music performances.  The dynamic duet, Frenchy and the Punk, wander the world with their fairy, folk, rock, fusion of steampunk funk and fun.  Mega Ran is a world touring performer, educator, and videogame fanatic who is best known for his Mega Man video game tribute music that caught the attention of Capcom that made him one of the top stars of Nerdcore and Chip-Hop music.   Steam Powered Giraffe is a vaudeville style band who perform their music in metallic makeup as steam powered robots that periodically break down in the middle of their performances.  Anime video game voice actors such as Chuck Huber, DC Douglas, and Greg Ayres will be signing autographs, running panels, and, if folks are lucky, Greg will don the headphones and DJ at one of the dances.  For Steampunk, Lolita and other fun fashions, Kinki Kitty, Victorian Angel and MossBadger will be be there to show their wares at the fashion show and other cosplay events.  Over the weekend there will also be multiple raves, the Formal Fantasy Cosplay Ball, the infamous Dante’s Fabulous Date Auction, the Masquerade, Maid Café, video game and padded weapon competitions, and, of course, the awesome Samurai Dan and Jillian!

Jumping for Joy with, Robert "Lord Zedd" Axlerod, Sonny Strait, Eyeshine and Cristina Vee at Anime-ZING! ©2012 John N Collins
Jumping for Joy with, Robert “Lord Zedd” Axlerod, Sonny Strait, Eyeshine and Cristina Vee at Anime-ZING! ©2012 John N Collins

The same folks who put on Anime Midwest will wander across the state and pop up across the following weekend for a bit scaled down version of their event called Anime Zing! in the beautiful River Center in Davenport, Iowa.   Scaled down doesn’t mean you will have time to be bored, but Davenport is a kinder, gentler place than the greater Chicago area and for those new to Anime Cons it is a great place to meet some top voice actors like Full Metal Alchemist’s Vic Mignogna.  They will also have plenty of other guests, panels, dances, Dante’s Date Auction, and Samurai Dan and Jillian.

For more Steampunk fun catch the Motor City Steam Con July 22 – 24, 2016 in the Holiday Inn Livonia Hotel.  Don’t let the Formal Teas and Beard and Mustache contests fool you.  The Motor City Steam Con is an action packed weekend of music and mirth featuring performances by Frenchy and the Punk, Automaton, DJ Vourteque, Eli August, the Gabriel Brass Band, Tom Smith, Ague, Arlow Xan, and The Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle.  After dark the teas tend to become diluted with other liquids and liquors and the events take a decidedly twisted turn.  For those 21+, the Moonlight Caberet will have magic, music, comedy and burlesque.

For more geeky fun make sure to set some time and money aside for the best four days of gaming at GenCon in Indianapolis August 4-7 and comics and celebrity action at Wizard World Chicago August 18-21.

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