Whofest – the Who, When, Where, What and Why of the DFW Dr. Who Convention
The Who of Whofest
Whofest is a Dr. Who convention. It is thrown by the Dallas Future Society, and tickets to the event include an annual membership to the group. In 2016, adult advanced tickets were $40 while children's advanced tickets were $30. Tickets bought during the event, available at the registration desk, were more expensive.
The When of Whofest
Whofest DFW has been held on the next to last weekend of April for the last several years. Whofest runs from Friday to Sunday on the weekend it is held. It is scheduled not to compete with the North Texas Comic Book Show that usually happens the last weekend of April.
The first Whofest convention was held in 2013, on the 50th anniversary of when Dr. Who episodes began. There was no Whofest convention in 2014. However, the second one was held in 2015, and the third one was held in 2016. The fourth Whofest convention convened in 2017. Whofest is on hiatus for 2018.
The Where of Whofest
Whofest held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. From 2014 through 2017, it was held in Irving, Texas at the Westin Dallas/Fort Worth Airport Hotel. Those who buy tickets can get discount rates to the hotel. This is recommended if you're enjoying Dr. Who related games until midnight.
The What of Whofest
Unlike many comic conventions, Whofest is focused exclusively on Dr. Who, the BBC science fiction show. So what goes on at Whofest?
Whofest has been able to bring in major Dr. Who cast like Colin Baker, the 6th Doctor, Terry Molloy who played Davros, and a number of others.
Whofest has had more than costume contests and autograph lines. Whofest stands out as a family friendly science fiction convention. The organizers have set up at least one child friendly activity room each year with Dr. Who specific crafts. For example, my son made a Tardis like the one in the TV show out of blue paper, pipe cleaners and other provided supplies. The group has also had a game room with games ranging from Munchkin games suitable for 6-10 year olds to strategy games that could keep adults going for hours. The "Whokids" events are not constant, nor babysitting, but it is useful for parents to be able to bring kids to a discussion on how to throw a Dr. Who birthday party or make Dr. Who themed sugar cookies or have kids in costume play chess. Whofest had several events throughout Saturday and Sunday, as well as a Dr. Who themed family social on Friday night.
A video room streaming classic Dr. Who episodes and fan videos was a hallmark of the 2016 Whofest. The organizers set up a Dr. Who themed choose your own adventure game that sent you on an adventure around the venue. The organizers arranged for life sized Daleks to be brought to the event, while several group members bring replica K-9 units to the event.
There are lectures and discussions from "Cosplay on a Budget" to discussions of the latest season to character analyses. The 2016 Whofest featured a lecture on how to build and program your own Dalek or K-9 robot toy. This was only a how-to presentation, not a craft project. There were numerous Dr. Who trivia contests.
Whofest had a large dealer room. Merchandisers offered a wide range of sci-fi themed T-shirts, costume items, books, comics, and so forth. There was a large selection of knit Who themed hats, scarfs, booties and clothing. A number of local comic book stores were selling merchandise and toys. At the 2016 convention, there were two local science fiction authors holding book signings.
The Dallas Futurist Society maintained a bigger perspective by tying a charity event to Whofest such as blood drives and charity auctions with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.