For better or worse, American cities frequently don’t look too different from each other. It’s hard to find one that doesn’t have a Ruby Tuesday or Bed Bath & Beyond. They all have hometown heroes that swear by them, whether they be rock stars, professional athletes, or Top Chef contestants. If you asked a city booster to provide you with the ultimate city weekend, they’d tell you to come during some major event like Summerfest or Riverfest, an annual event featuring a “”Kids Zone!””, and beer.
Ok, so I’m generalizing. But there’s a kernel of truth there…which leads me to this weekend, in which Atlanta- in my humble opinion- separates itself from the pack…Namely with Dragon*Con, the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and the AJC Decatur Book Festival.
Let’s start with Dragon*Con which is one of the world’s largest “”multi-genre”” convention. 30,000+ attendees descend upon downtown Atlanta every year for the event, which celebrates science fiction, role-playing games (not what you think), Anime, X-Files, Star Wars and everything in between. It’s a good old fashioned nerd hoedown, featuring multiple Star Trek stars (look out for LeVar Burton sightings), lots of comic books (Stan Lee will be in the house) and everything in between (Kelly LeBrock and Sean Astin?).
Also downtown this weekend will be the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game, which serves as major college football’s kickoff event. Atlanta has solidified its position as the capital of college football (check out the College Football Hall of Fame’s relocation to Atlanta… soon), and thousands of North Carolina and LSU fans are making Atlanta a big part of their Labor Day plans in order to support their teams. Fan nights at local attractions, massive barbecues and ESPN’s GameDay Crew will make Atlanta the capital of kickoffs.
Rounding out the weekend is the AJC Decatur Book Festival, one of the country’s largest book fares. The weekend-long event is free, and features a litany of authors including Jonathan Franzen, who recently donned the cover of Time magazine (the first novelist to do so in a decade). The annual festival is a testament to Decatur’s cultural cache and if you enjoy words and stories, you should make an effort to attend.
So tell me, what other American city is hosting such a diverse range of events in one weekend? Atlanta’s sprawl and traffic are often well documented by the national media. Her ability to attract a diverse array of interesting and compelling events is not.