ChimneyCon 1986

Years ago there was a fantasy/Sci-fi/gaming convention in Jackson MS called ChimneyCon. The first one was in 1986 and this photo, from a newspaper clipping in Jay Stribling's archives shows Jackson Gamers participating in a large American Civil War game with our 25mm forces.

Jackson Gamers (from bottom right) Tom Phillips in the Red battle-shirt, and Rand Grammar in sleeveless top. I believe that the standing onlooker at the extreme top left is Mark Gilbert. Your humble web-master was seated across the table from Randy and is safely out of view.

Test below by Joe Rogers - Clarion Ledger Staff Writer

Jeremy Winstead and his Clinton buddies Josh Cockrell, Yancy Clayton and Chelsea Coale get together once a week or so to play the fantasy game Dungeons and Dragons.It's about a three-hour undertaking, usually incoporated in a spend-the-night party. Every other day they plot - reading books, developing the characters.

"We're more into it than a lot of people," said Cockrell. "We're warping our minds," said Winstead. They are 11 years old.

Saturday they joined more than 230 other fans of fantasy, science fiction, gaming and role-playing in the first ChimneyCon, held all day at the Sheraton Regency in jackson.For the unitnitiated, a "con" is a gathering, or convention, of such fans. It is also an excuse to give free reign to the imagination in the company of others of similar ilk.

The kind of place where some people watch a showing of The Thing From Another World while, in the hall outside, others stage a demonstration of medieval dancing in full costume. "It's fun," said Clayton. "I'm hoping they have it again next year."

Three main local groups helped stage the cont" Chimneyville Fantasy and Science Fiction Society; Federation Outpost International, a Star Trek fan club; and The society for Crative Anachronism, whose members attempt to crate the Middle Ages and Rennaissance times. The object was to swap stories and trivia, knowledge and expertise. Michael Scott, a game designer from Baton Rouge, was among the sci-fi luminaries invited to share their tips.

Scott, a bookkeeper by profession, is a former president of CoastCon, the 10-year old Biloxi counterpart of ChimneyCon. "This is one of the best small convetions I've ever seen," he siad. "Everything is organized. Everything starts on time. And everbody is having fun."

But commerce was on the menu, too, and items for sale ran the gamut from The Avengers to Mad Magazine, Tolkien to Tarzan. an original Man form U.N.C.L.E. toy gun could be had for $100. Winstead and his friends figured they dropped about $45, not counting the $5 admission toll. Included in the booty was Battletech a game they had been looking for for a while. "It's in the 31st century. You're a littel guy and you drive this robot," Winstead eplained. "It's kind of like D&D in the future," Cockrell said.

All of that - even the guys who spend their time in war games recrating famous battles of the past - falls under the general title of "fandom," asid ChimneyCon spokesman Jean Moore. "It can be an escape. but ti can be a lot more than that. I would say it's thier hobby. it's what they do to relax and use their talents in some other way than going to work. It certainly is different from sitting and watching soap operas every day."

The succes of ChimneyCon may allow for a mcuh larger gathering next year, Scott said, not that the market for such has bveen demonstrated. CoastCon at its peak has attracted 2000-plus people. and annual WorldCons draw 5000 or sao. that is part of the benefit of the groups and cons, Moore siad - making friends with people who have similar interests.

It's also moral support for people whose tastes dont't always get a lot of acceptance from non-fans, who may lable science fiction or fantasy fans, weird. "Thy're not weird," Moore said. "Maybe they just think a little bit differently, about variations of reality. But they think seriously about ways to change it, and are hopeful about the future."

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