FORT HOOD, TX, UNITED STATES
FORT HOOD, Texas – Soldiers took advantage of an annual multi-day festivity known as GeekFest to let loose and feed their inner geek, Aug. 15-17 at the Mayborn Science Theater and Anderson Campus Center located on the Central Texas College campus in Killeen.
“GeekFest began five years ago as a way to make money to help fund the CTC Student Ambassadors,” said Fred Chavez, director of Planetarium and Outreach Services at the Mayborn Science Theater.
Chavez is one of three main people, who humbly call themselves a Jeti-Counsel, which gave birth to the idea of GeekFest.
“We wanted to put on an event that was different from all the other things that take place in the area,” said Chavez. “While brain-storming, we kept coming back to Sci-Fi, Cosplay, comic books, etc. and BAM; we thought why don't we have a Comic Con related event?”
Chavez said they decided not to limit the event to a single theme, but a celebration of whatever makes people get their Geek on.
For Pfc. Ohene Jackson and Pvt. Kagan Likes, Infantrymen assigned to B Company, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, the event was a way to try something new and reminisce of home.
“I’m into this kind of stuff,” said Likes, a native of Fort Wayne, Ind. He also said the event reminded him of home and the hobbies he was into before enlisting into the Army.
Jackson, a native of Chicago, seemed new to the idea of exposing his inner geek; but nevertheless, picked up a paint brush and joined Likes in the painting of miniature space marine characters from the game Warhammer 40,000.
People donned elaborate costumes and props, which allowed them to express themselves in a way they might not be able to in conventional environments. In most cases, enthusiasts made their costumes and props by hand, in the likeness of their favorite character. This expression of individualism is commonly known as cosplay.
Cosplay, short for costume play, is a form of performance art in which participants, or cosplayers, wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character or idea.
Character or idea sources include manga, anime, comic books, video games, and films. Essentially, any entity from the real or virtual world that lends itself to dramatic interpretation could be used for cosplay inspiration.
To Sgt. Michael Lewis, a Texas State Army National Guard Soldier assigned to the 536th Brigade Support Battalion located near College Station, costume design was an evolution from video games.
“I realized I needed something more than video games,” said Michael as he described how his passion led him to designing custom dragon-scale mail armor costume, which is a dense weave that is incredibly flexible and lavish version of chain mail.
Michael was just one of thousands of people who showed up to GeekFest to show off their own take on their costumes. Costumes which ranged from detailed recreations of known characters, to completely original characters or a combination of the two.
“It is fun, I enjoy seeing what people come up with,” said Pvt. Gary Good, a M1 Armor Crewman assigned to 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cav. Div., who dressed as a steam-punk ninja for a Humans vs. Zombies event.
“It [GeekFest] is a good stress releaser,” said Good, a native of Colemen, Texas, as he explained how the multitude of events operating simultaneously created much needed distraction.
GeekFest veteran, Spc. Daniel Navarro, a chaplain assistant assigned to III Corps, spent a year on his detailed recreation of a Halo Reach character, called Spartan 3.
“This is my first time attempt at cosplaying,” said Navarro, a local of Killeen. His elaborate costume was handmade from foam, cardstock and motorcycle attire. Navarro even modified a plastic weapon to be a functional prop, using an ipod with an app that allowed him to more accurately submerge himself into the character.
For some, getting their geek on simply means being able to participate in nostalgic activates.
“I’ve never gone to this kind of thing, it has really taken me back,” said Spc. Jerod Lewis, an Apache helicopter mechanic assigned to 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cav. Div.
Jerod, a native of Ruidoso, N.M. said his platoon sergeant told him about the event and how it would be a good way to de-wind from his recent deployment to Afghanistan.
“I was not prepared for the cosplay people,” said Jerod, adding that he had never seen people dress up outside of Halloween.
In essence, GeekFest also doubles as a collaboration of individual creativity.
Vendors from all over the state came to the event to share their takes on popular or retro merchandise.
“It started with one little thing and then blew up into this,” said Lisa Cossentino-Miller, a concessioner of custom Bead Sprites trinkets, a type of plastic bead that is positioned into a design then melted together with an iron.
Lisa, with the help of her husband, Spc. Keith Miller, a satellite communications operator and maintainer assigned to 2nd Brigade, 1st Cav. Div., hosted a table of geeky themed magnets, earrings and key chains.
Other GeekFest activities included gaming tournaments for cash prizes; a showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” featuring a live shadow cast by the Austin Queerios; costume, cake and anime contests; how-to seminars and workshops; and a family-friendly Harry Potter Yule Ball.
Wristbands, required for all GeekFest patrons 12 years of age and older, allowed visitors admission to all programs and dome activities, the vendor area and transportation between buildings.
“I never stop being impressed,” said Chavez as he described how well the event had turned out. He added that he liked is how laid back and friendly everyone was, which he attributed to the large number of families that came together for the event.
“Soldiers and their families and single soldiers make up a large portion of our visitors,” said Chavez. “In the past, anyone who was a fan of Sci-Fi, comic books, gaming or Cosplay had to travel it Austin, Dallas, or San Antonio for this type of event.
“Now with GeekFest happening, just outside the Clear Creek Gate, Fort Hood Soldiers who want to ‘Geek Out’ only have to drive across highway 190 and BAM they are in Geek Heaven,” said Chavez.
Soldiers, Families, venders, students and faculty members alike took advantage of the multi-day festivity, known as GeekFest, by letting loose and feeding their passion for gaming, designing, or role-playing.
||FORT HOOD, TX, US
||CHICAGO, IL, US
||COCOA, FL, US
||COLEMAN, TX, US
||COLLEGE STATION, TX, US
||FORT WAYNE, IN, US
||KILLEEN, TX, US
||RUIDOSO, NM, US
This work, Soldiers get their geek on, by SSG Lance Pounds, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.