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Future of Steel City NerdCon in question

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A popular event in Sault Ste. Marie may not return next year. Organizers of Steel City NerdCon say with plans for a bigger event in 2023 fell through, coupled with the loss of its usual venue, the future of the event is in question.

Michael Turcotte, organizer and owner of Vintage Games N' Junque, said he was hoping to pair Nerdcon with another popular summer tourism draw, Poutine Feast.

"We found that it would be a great idea to try and combine the two at the GFL and make the biggest event we could, and unfortunately it didn’t really work out for some reason," said Turcotte.

The Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Association, which is involved with Poutine Feast, says a venue change cannot be accommodated due to agreements that are in place.

"Poutine Feast is a joint venture between us and the Ermatinger Clergue Historical Site, and they've been a founding partner," said the associations’ executive director, Salvatore Marchese.

"So, the location it is in benefits both us and them. So, it's just a matter of not being able to shift the location to honour our partnership."

Marchese says the Downtown Association is still willing to work with NerdCon to find an appropriate venue. In the meantime, Turcotte said the event is not likely to return to the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre.

"We had booked July 2nd, 2023 with Edie Suriano," said Turcotte, referring to the former event coordinator at the heritage centre.

"Unfortunately, she’s not there anymore and Jamie Hilsinger took over. And Jamie just chose to cancel our event."

Hilsinger told CTV News July is in the thick of prime tourism season, and she wants the venue open to bus tours and other visitors who pass through.

"We want to make sure they get the full Bushplane experience," said Hilsinger.

"The event (NerdCon) itself is excellent, we love it. We just don't feel it's necessarily appropriate at that time."

Hilsinger said other dates were suggested to the organizers.

Turcotte, in the interim, said while booking the GFL Memorial Gardens is not possible with NerdCon's budget.

Turcotte said he is not entirely ruling out an event in 2023, adding that other agencies and city councillors have reached out offering support.

"If we have any way of making it work, we’re going to try and make it work." 

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