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The fans of Britain are coming to St. Louis Park

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The fans of Britain are coming to St. Louis Park

Anglophiles will unite in St. Louis Park to recall their favorite British fictional tales over the Memorial Day weekend.

Science fiction and fantasy fans who have a particular taste for works from across the pond have founded Brit Con, which will run May 24-26 at the DoubleTree Park Place Hotel, 1500 Park Place Blvd. in St. Louis Park.

"The British are coming! The British are coming to Minnesota!" declares the festival's website, "You'll be gobsmacked by the jolly good time you'll have!"

The convention will celebrate British contributions to film, television and literature, such as the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Interests to be celebrated include such ubiquitous British works as "Dr. Who" and "Harry Potter" but also extend to such works as the 1960s British "spy-fi" television series "The Avengers," the secret agent 1960s show "Danger Man" and a more recent animated parody of the show called "Danger Mouse."

The idea for Brit Con began with a coversation with friends about the wide array of British contributions to cultural works, said Pat Taylor, a Minneapolis resident who lives near Richfield and who is helping to found the inaugural convention.

"People active in science fiction fandom but who have a special interest in the British contribution to that genre are the ones onboard with this and helping to launch this," Taylor explained. "There is just so much out there that people love that it made a certain amount of sense to have a convention dedicated to just that."

Taylor said she is aware of other conventions focusing specifically on "Dr. Who" or "Harry Potter" and another convention that has had a British theme for a year, but she said Brit Con is unusual in its broad and total focus on Britain.

"This is the heart of what we are," Taylor said. "The gods willing, if we have a successful convention we want to do it again next year and remain on."

'Certain subtleties'

Cottage Grove resident Greg Larsen, joined the effort upon hearing about the idea. His favorite travels have included a visit to a world sci-fi convention in Glasgow, Scotland, and a visit to Portmeirion, a Welsh resort village that served as the film site for the 1960s show "The Prisoner" about a former secret agent held prisoner at a mysterious resort.

"We may share the same language but you go over to the UK, and it's obviously a different country," Larsen said. "When you spend two-to-three weeks there, there's certain little subtleties that creep in, and it's obvious that you ain't in Kansas anymore."

Britsh shows tend to have a different look and feel than American productions, Larsen said, partly because British studios have work to be creative with more limited budgets. He also pointed out the difference in comedy styles between American comedians and British comedians like the "Monty Python" troupe.

"When you look at most American comedy, like standup, people go up and do their jokes. You see it once or twice and say, OK, let's move on, and flip the channel," Larsen said. "'Monty Python' seemed to be something you could watch over and over and over again. You wouldn't get the humor right away because something was lost in translation over the Atlantic."

Larsen said he never got into "Dr. Who," the longtime, popular British show about an alien who travels through time and space in a machine that looks like a traditional British police telephone booth. However, Larsen said "The Prisoner" caught his attention when he was a kid.

He recalls he thought, "Wow, this is kind of strange, what's going on here?"

Lineup of activities

Larsen said he became involved with the convention when he worried the idea would fail to launch.

"First-year conventions are really difficult to get off the ground," said Larsen, who works in finance.

The convention will include screenings of shows and movies, but organizers cannot reveal which ones due to licensing reasons. Larsen said the organizers tried to stay away from works that could be found through Netflix or Redbox and will include more shows that people may have heard of but have never seen.

The convention will also incude presentations from British fantasy and sci-fi enthusiasts. One presenter wrote children's novels based on the puppet show "The Thunderbirds." A comedian will "channel" posthomous guests during a presentation. Another guest is Richard Klemensen, the publisher of a magazine dedicated to the British horror genre called "Little Shoppe of Horrors." Comic book artist Gordon Purcell, who made pencil drawings for a "Dr. Who" and "Star Trek – The Next Generation" crossover comic book called "Assimilation2," is also expected to attend. Purcell has also created work for Marvel and DC Comics.

Two fan creations of Daleks, extermination-bent aliens from "Dr. Who" who are clad in robot-like shells, will also serve as an attraction. A lectern will be painted to resemble the TARDIS, Dr. Who's time-travel machine.

And, of course, the convention will include a costume contest.

Unique group

Discover St. Louis Park, the city's convention and visitor's bureau, has helped convention founders connect with resources in the community.

"Not only is it a unique group, but it's a group we hope will bring a lot of awareness to the St. Louis Park area," said Brent Snyder, sales manager with Discover St. Louis Park. "They have people coming from all over."

Snyder said he believes the St. Louis Park location is ideal for a first-year convention like Brit Con.

"This is a new thing, and we thought what better place to do it than St. Louis Park, where they can feel like a big fish in a little pond but still have the advantages of the West End," Snyder said, referring to the commercial development near the DoubleTree Park Place Hotel.

Snyder said Discover St. Louis Park appreciates that Brit Con will bring visitors to town aside from the typical corporate groups and associations that book hotels in the city. Some people from the United Kingdom are expected to attend, he noted, and the theme will bring a different type of crowd to town.

"They bring in, like, these robots and all these really cool characters," Snyder said. "They have vendors that come from all over selling, like, comic books or different trinkets within that industry. It's fun for kids and has wide demographics."

The cost to attend the entire convention is $55. The rate for Friday is $25. A day pass for Saturday is $30 and a pass for Sunday is $20. Tickets may be purchased at or at the door.

Contact Seth Rowe at

Caption: Brit Con cofounder Pat Taylor, right, and her husband, Dave Schaal, appear as Jadis the White Witch and Father Christmas from "The Chronicles of Narnia" by British author C.S. Lewis at another costume event. Brit Con will include a costume party relating to characters from British movies, television or literature. (Submitted photo courtesy of Ben Huset) The DOOM Squad, a costuming group, dress as characters from Harry Potter at a past event. The DOOM Squad is set to appear at Brit Con in St. Louis Park My 24-26. (Submitted photo courtesy of Ben Huset)

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