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Sci-Fi Horror Fest coming to Vernon Downs

Sean I. Mills
Staff writer
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Posted 8/21/22

A new horror and science fiction convention is coming to Oneida County and the Mohawk Valley this month, and it’s hoping to attract all of the ghouls, goblins and horror fans who have gone without such an event for years.

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Sci-Fi Horror Fest coming to Vernon Downs

Posted

VERNON — A new horror and science fiction convention is coming to Oneida County and the Mohawk Valley this month, and it’s hoping to attract all of the ghouls, goblins and horror fans who have gone without such an event for years.

The Sci-Fi Horror Fest will stalk the grand ballroom of the Vernon Downs Casino and Hotel on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26-27. The event will feature movie screenings, panel talks, a multitude of vendors and several science fiction and horror celebrities.

This area hasn’t seen such a convention since Scare-A-Con moved to Rochester in 2019. The Sci-Fi Horror Fest is not affiliated with Scare-A-Con.

“We know we’re not reinventing the wheel by any means, but the horror community is such a loving, diverse and open community — let’s do that,” said Tiffani-Beth Gager, who runs the Fest with her husband, Dennis.

“You can’t help but want to be a part of that.”

Tickets for the event will be $15 for a single day or $20 for both days. Tickets are available to order at the event website, www.Sci-FiHorrorFest.com. Tickets will also be available at the door, but tickets at the door are cash only.

The Gagers started their convention in the Oneonta area several years ago, with a focus on writing and authors. Tiffani-Beth said the convention “just kind of transformed” into the Sci-Fi Horror Fest because “we’ve always loved horror.”

Tiffani-Beth said they felt unwanted in the Oneonta area and they had to shut down for the pandemic. So, once the lockdowns were lifted, they began looking for a new location for their convention, and the Mohawk Valley welcomed them with open arms.

“The community is a lot more embracing of diversity and things like that,” Tiffani-Beth said. “We’ve had such a positive response. It’s been such a great experience for us.”

More businesses and locations have been willing to post fliers for the convention, and local sponsorships sold out “in a record amount of time.”

Local sponsors include Off-Center Records & Collectibles in Utica and Larger Than Life Toys & Comics in Syracuse.

Among the celebrity guests will be horror actor Richard Masur from “It” and “The Thing,” as well as Genoveva Rossi, Leanne Seda and C.J. Graham, who played Jason Vorhees in “Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.” Other guests will include horror movie historian Cecil Trachenburg and special effects makeup artist Craig Lindberg.

Entertainment at the event will include a showing of the horror comedy film “Inspectres” and a live comedy riff of a classic horror movie. There will also be stations for tattoos and a Sweeney Todd-themed horror haircut salon.

Sci-Fi Horror Fest also encourages attendees to come in costume, often known as “cosplay” for costume play.

“Everybody who comes in cosplay puts their heart and soul into it,” Tiffani-Beth said. “We encourage cosplay. We love cosplay.”

Even though the convention took two years off for the coronavirus pandemic, Tiffani-Beth said it wasn’t a hard decision to bring it back.

“I love seeing people meet celebrities they’ve always wanted to, I love seeing people making memories. If you can create happy, then why don’t you?” she said.

“It’s a safe space. People can come as they are and be accepted as they are.”

Vernon Downs Hotel & Casino is located at 4229 Stuhlman Road, Vernon.

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