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When Geekfest came to town time stood still and there was laughter

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"How do I geek you? Let me count the ways?" was jokingly my opening line for Why you don't want to miss GeekFest 2015. Little did I know that my first Geekfest experience would take that line as a "challenge accepted". On Saturday Cosplayers, gamers, techies, comic book junkies, zombie fans, music lovers, and those who just wanted to have a good time gathered at Huddle Park because GeekFest came to town.

For one whole day we played like children, got high on life, and lived like there was no tomorrow.

Resistance to that beautiful energy was futile. It grabbed us from the moment we passed the gates Saturday morning, and now, we are forever, geeks. In the year 2015, in a galaxy far, far away .... We sparred with Knights, rubbed shoulders with Iron Man, met a Space Marine, Penguin and Harley Quinn provided entertainment. We also met a dog called, Potato San, two Silent Hill nurses showed us how to boogie, and a load shedding demon showed up for the party.

They dazzled us, entertained us, and we loved them all.

Strut your stuff

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GeekFest 2015: Winner Children's Division - Kenna Ferreira (Thor)

For me, the little Thor girl stole the show. She gave Mjölnir such mighty swings that it took her down a few times, but such was her confidence that she jumped right back up to continue her show. She conquered our hearts and the children's division. One of the things I loved most about GeekFest was the playful atmosphere. Even though we were watching a competition, it never felt, "competitive", it felt more like enjoying a big family get-together.

And what would a family event be without the dogs?

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GeekFest 2015: Winner Animal Division - Loki, adopted brother of Thor

Loki and mom (Lorinda) aren't the only two Cosplayer in the family. Dad (Johan, Forza gamer) donned a costume as well and slapped pink wings on the other four-legged friend. Loki is an old Cosplayer, he came second last year and apparently loves to dress up even at home. His mom loves playing role-playing games (Dragon Age fan), both his parents are mechanical engineers and proudly geek. Both dogs receive agility training, so that explains Loki's extraordinary performance ;). Loki is three years old and attends every GeekFest.

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GeekFest 2015: Winner Adult Division - Tayla Barter as Ironscale Shyvana (League of Legends)

Tayla Barter won the adult division because her costume was simply, perfect (no really, the judges tried to find a flaw in her costume, but couldn't). Fun fact, she was a judge at last year's GeekFest Cosplay event, she is also a gamer, and League of Legends is her game of choice. Her costume took 90 hours over a 3-month period. Tayla has had a fascination with Cosplay since childhood. When she wants a break from LoL, she plays Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm.

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Cosplay Judges from left: Anre van Rooyen, Lelanie Kotze, George Flatt, Pippa Tshabalala

At the Cosplay Ball, I caught up with the main judge, (I can't remember his name, but I think he was dressed as Professor Binns), to explain the finer details of how they chose each winner. Every entry was judged on:

  1. Costume
  2. How well the Cosplayer carries the character, he or she represented.
  3. The skit/performance.

There was a total of four judges, each representing something specific. Pippa Tshabalala as the geeky celebrity, George Flatt (Prof Binns) for gaming, Anre van Rooyen (Anime specialist) and Lelanie Kotze (Medieval specialist). Besides casting their vote for the overall winner, each judge also selected their Cosplay winner. What was special about 2015's GeekFest Cosplay?

  • 79 - Entries (organizers had to turn people away as the event was already full).
  • 20 - People that entered the competition as first-time Cosplayers.
  • The standard of Cosplay was much higher than 2014's event.

To say the Cosplay was exceptional would be an understatement. I heard the most fascinating stories.

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GeekFest 2015 Cosplay winner: Valka (How to Train your Dragon 2)

The woman at the bottom right-hand corner of the main article image (leopard skin Cosplayer), designed her character from scratch. "I am Lava Demon, and I prevent Hell from freezing over," she replied tongue in the cheek. She also designed and made her costume and make-up (yes it did take hours). How did you accomplish such a thing, I asked. "I used a mirror," she replied, as if it's the easiest thing in the world. You can check out our GeekFest album on Facebook for a good look at the Lava Demon.

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GeekFest 2015 Cosplay winner

Now this guy was mind blowing. Firstly he stayed in costume for the duration of the competition, and he was the last entry! That means he had to walk around in that massive costume for about four hours. Secondly, he made his Space Marine outfit without a template. I got a look at his enormous boots. He used old shoes and bolted the Space Marine boots to it. Respect.

Check out the Espresso Show's coverage of GeekFest 2015: Cosplay.

 

Although Cosplay was certainly the main attraction, it wasn't the only event at GeekFest. I caught up with NiteFenix from The Dark Carnival that hosted the Mortal Kombat X tournament.

Geekfest 2015 Mortal Kombat X - Cloete Supreme

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GeekFest 2015 MKX Champs: (Left) Vikar Singh (2nd), Jeremy Cloete, Tristan Cloete (third), Terry Cloete (winner)

Old rivals met again. Remember the Mortal Kombat Cup hosted by Ster Kinekor in May? Vikar "Draeka" Singh took first place in the Gauteng first qualifiers and  Jeremy "JAH464" Cloete second. At GeekFest, the Cloete brothers took revenge when two of the three brothers ended in top three, with Terry as the overall victor. Now that's what you call "Finished Him." The Mortal Kombat gods smiled upon Terry as he also won the lucky prize draw.

Before the finals, I grabbed the trio for a quick chat. According to all three the competition at GeekFest was just as tough as the Mortal Kombat Cup event. However, they felt they had a better shot at winning the event because for the GeekFest competition they were playing on their preferred platform, Xbox One.  Remember, the Mortal Kombat Cup was played on PlayStation 4. So well done to the brothers for dominating the GeekFest 2015, Mortal Kombat X tournament.

There's virtual fighting, and then there's fighting with real swords. Up next we join the Knights from South Africa's Medieval Fight Clubs.

Fight a Knight

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Four fighters representing various Gauteng based Full Contact Medieval Combat clubs. From left to right; Karl Smit, Shaun Pearson, Anton Gouws, Christine Carr (as a Skyrim guard) and Grant Hart.

Even geeky boys & girls dream of fighting a knight. The "Fight a Knight" event was very popular, as the young and not so young gathered around the fighting pit for a shot at taking down one of the four knights in attendance. I must say, the Knights know how to put on a show. It was all fun and games when their opponents were kids, but sh1t got really real very fast when experienced warriors crossed swords. One of the challengers landed on their back within seconds, but jumped right up and charged. The sound of steel against steel soon drew a big crowd.

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Knight Eric Viljoen vs GeekFest attendee

In the image we see Eric Viljoen, the knight to do the most fights on the day, seen here against the challenger that got knocked down & got right back up to fight again. Respect. I had a chat with the ring master, Karl Smit, and here's a few things you definitely don't know about South Africa's Medieval combat scene. A female fighter, Christa Heyssen Martin from Durban Sword and Shield won a bronze medal in the women's polearm division at the International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) world championship held at Malbork Castle in Poland this year. The first South African fighter to win a medal for this sport on the international stage.

There are various established clubs in South Africa, and most are accepting new members. Karl Smit from Medieval Fight Club can put interested parties in contact with their closest clubs, so drop the clubs’ facebook page or website a message if you are interested in this growing sport.

    At the moment, you have to be 16 years or older to join one of these rough-and-tumble clubs, but if there's enough interest, they'll open a children's division. According to the ringmaster; "Ons mag dalk geeks wees maar ons hou van bietjie geweld." In English; “We may be geeks but we do like a bit of violence”, they are Geeks with a twist.

    If you're interested in learning about & applying yourself to the study of Western Medieval Martial Arts and Historical Medieval Battle (HMB), especially in the use of longsword, sword & shield and side sword then check out their Facebook page or Website. You can also rent them for private or corporate functions if you need some medieval flavour at your next event.

    On Saturday, 5 September you can join the fun at the Neigh-Bours Magical Medieval Fayre.
    There will be a market, fully armoured medieval combat tournament, as well as magical and medieval-themed cosplay. Contact market@neigh-bours.co.za for more information

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    There was even a snow tent.

    We had joy, we had fun, we had...

    There was so much we wanted to see, but time was against us. We arrived at GeekFest just after the gates opened, and we only left after the last band, sang the last song. We also checked out the Cosplay Ball, which was almost fully booked, 'cause Geeks can party all day and all night ;).

    I caught up with the amazing, super, brilliant trio behind GeekFest; one crazy lady and her two sidekicks ;). Richard Harman, Kasia Jabrzemski and Meryl Rosenberg (market organiser), we love you guys, thank you for hosting Africa's biggest Geek party! The man behind the event, Richard, guessed that about 4 000 people attended, we'll confirm the figure later today. Every man, women, child and animal that attended the event added to the success of GeekFest 2015.

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    She was at the Cosplay Ball, but where did you see her before?

    You win something, something if you tell us who that is. I talked to her during the day, and I didn't recognize her when I talked to her again at the Cosplay Ball. At GeekFest 2016 she should Cosplay as Mystique.

    Last but not least I want to close by saying that I can't remember when I've had such a ball of a time. GeekFest was like a super download of things that make life amazing. I finally met people that I've chatted to on Twitter for months; like MWEB GameZone's The Evil Within winner, Darryl Linington. He's also the owner of ITF Gaming. NiteFenix is even more amazing than what he appears to be on the virtual playground. It's people like him that work tirelessly to making gaming events a success. I also met his lovely lady and gamer-in-arms, mindless_pixie. I'm always excited to meet another female that loves gaming, and GeekFest had so many! I also had a fascinating conversation with Pippa's hubby, Sekwa. You can expect an interview with him about how gaming has changed the way we parent, how technology is expanding young kid's minds and the importance of diversity in gaming.

    There's still so much I want to say about GeekFest 2015, but I'll close with my favorite GeekFest moment. When the Silent Hill nurses decided, it was time to do the boogie.

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    Don't forget to check out our GeekFest Facebook album, I'll upload the photos later today. Thanks GeekFest, see you in 2016!

    Images credit: Maryna Steenekamp

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