Wilcon

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An invitation-only relaxacon hosted by Jon and Joni Stopa at their Wilmot Mountain ski resort in Wilmot, WI, outside Chicago, usually over July 4 weekends. Begun in 1963, the event continued for more than 39 years.

Guests still tell of the dozens of tents, acres of parties, special guests, and unforgettable hospitality of their hosts. (The tents were, at least in part, a reaction to the large number of cats living in the house.) Legend has it that Leonard Nimoy has hidden a buried treasure somewhere on the property, capable of being found only by true, worthy believers.

According to Jon Stopa, Wilcon's roots were Midwestcon and Riverside Dive, the home of Bill Donaho, Art Saha, Chuck Friedenthal, and Danny Curren, on 110th Street in Manhattan.

Lewis Grant, Jr., died at Wilcon in 1966.

The two rules for attending Wilcon (aside from receipt of a personal invitation) were to work at least one cook crew each day and one cleanup crew each day. Failure to do so resulted in a lack of an invitation the next year. In the ’70s and ’80s, guest lists were prepared by Joni Stopa, Midge Reitan, and Dana Siegel, who used Joni's roladex and their knowledge of fannish gossip to determine the invitees. Madman Riley was the unofficial overseer.

At Wilcon’s peak, meals were held at the ski lodge, closed for the summer, and prepared in its commercial kitchen. Fans leading the cooking would send Joni recipes and lists of the ingredients needed ahead of time, and Joni would order them locally.

Memorable Wilcon food included wonderful homemade croissants made by a team led by David Emerson, then a professional baker, and Joan Hanke Woods’ attempt at winter melon soup, which was not a success, in part because Joni couldn’t get winter melons and substituted cantaloupe. Leah Zeldes discovered that French onion soup for a crowd is a tearful experience.

See 6 in 60 for extensive reminiscences.


Convention
Reasonator 1963
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