Fan’s Choice costume contest trophy unveiled for Arizona Fan Fest 2022

A trophy made of stained glass in the shape of the convention mascot will be presented to the fan's choice at the Arizona Fan Fest 2022 costume contest. - David Bell Photo/Arizona Fan Fest

SAFFORD — Even though the convention is more than a year away, things are happening behind the scenes at Arizona Fan Fest 2022.

Nearly two-dozen vendors have already reserved space for the outdoor event, which will take place April 22-24, 2022, on Safford’s Main Street. And cosplay experts are preparing panels to help you get your costumes perfect.

Speaking of cosplay, Arizona Fan Fest 2022 will feature the traditional costume contests found at all great conventions, with trophies for first place in the 0-12, 13-19, 20 and older, and group (two or more sharing a theme) categories. Plus we’re introducing the premiere category, for professional and experienced cosplayers. The first-place selection in the premiere category will walk away with $1,000.

However, participants in all categories will have a chance at the Fan’s Choice trophy — a stained glass representation of the Arizona Fan Fest logo.

The trophy is courtesy of a pair of Arizona artists — David Bell Jr. of the Rhino’s Den Art, and stained-glass artisan Monika Ragland.

A first draft of the mascot design for Arizona Fan Fest 2022 by Arizona artist David Bell Jr. – Contributed Image/David Bell Jr.

Bell designed Arizona Fan Fest’s mascot, a dragon.

“The whole concept actually stems from a lot of different factors of my life growing up. Fantasy and gaming have always been big parts of my interests, and most stories and games involving dragons and magic often have them go hand in hand (Dungeons and Dragons, Magic the Gathering, even the Final Fantasy video games). As such, combining the two made the most sense,” he said.

Head designs for the mascot for Arizona Fan Fest 2022. – Contributed Images/David Bell Jr.

“The orientation of the head actually comes from a sports perspective; I played football in high school (Lake Havasu High), and our helmets had the mascot, a Knight, in a profile (or side) view. In fact, a lot of sports teams use this orientation for their logo (Cardinals, Broncos, Rams, Vikings, etc.), and the simplicity of that made sense for a recognizable logo.”

Ragland used Bell’s design to craft the trophy.

“I (had) the pattern, (and) then I had to adapt it to make sure it would work and I could make it in stained glass. And then I had to pick the glass, and that’s always the fun part,” Ragland said.

The process wasn’t always fun, however, as Ragland accidently dropped the trophy when it was nearly complete, forcing her to start over.

Stained-glass artisan Monika Ragland shows off the trophy she created for the Fan’s Choice selection at the Arizona Fan Fest 2022 costume contest. – David Bell Photo/Arizona Fan Fest

“Some of the glass was saveable; I had to undo the whole thing and that’s a little more trouble than it sounds like,” she said. “So I had to get all the foil off, get the broken pieces out, cut new pieces, put it back together and do it all over again.”

The result is a one-of-a-kind trophy that every cosplayer will want to have on his or her mantle.

The costume contests will take place Saturday, April 23, 2022, and participants in the age and group categories can sign-up that day at the convention. Cosplayers participating in the premier category must pre-register at AZ Fan Fest Cosplay | GilaValleyCentral.Net. There is no cost to register for any of the costume contest categories.

Cosplayers, artists and writers, gamers, comic book publishers and retailers, sellers of collectibles and food vendors who wish to reserve space at Arizona Fan Fest 2022 can do so at AZ Fan Fest Vendor Reservations | GilaValleyCentral.Net. Spaces are $75 for each 10×10 space and there is no limit on the number of spaces a vendor may reserve.

Admission to Arizona Fan Fest 2022 will be free and the convention will take place in conjunction with the 2022 Safford Spring Festival — a wine tasting, art and history event — also taking place on Safford’s Main Street that same weekend.

Arizona Fan Fest’s media partners are Double R Communications and E-mail or for sponsorship opportunities.