Denver’s StarFest, one of the nation’s oldest pop culture scams, is announcing its closure after 45 years.

Denver’s StarFest convention, one of the oldest pop culture gatherings in the country, has announced its latest trip.

If you go

StarFest Denver: The Last Journey. Classic Pop Culture Convention, May 13-15 at the Hyatt Regency DTC, 7800 E. Tufts Ave. in Denver. Tickets: $29; children under 10 years free. Order by phone 303-777-6800 or visit starfestdenver.com.

The 45-year-old event, which debuted just two weeks before Star Wars hit theaters in 1977, will hold its final convention May 13-15 at the Hyatt Regency DTC. Celebrities expected to attend: Brent Spiner (data from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Picard); Terry Farrell (Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space 9); Michelle Hurd (“Picard”); and Zach McGowan (“Black Sails” and “The 100”).

“My kids were about three years old when we started,” said Cathy Walker, who co-founded and continues to produce StarFest with her husband Stephen and sister Caroline Jobin. She said that the end of StarFest is not due to financial problems.

“Basically, we are retiring,” she said. “None of us have ever received a salary from StarFest because it’s fan-run and we’ve always put all the money into next year’s event.”

Celebrities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Francis Ford Coppola, Christian Bale and, of course, dozens of actors from various Star Trek series and films, including William Shatner, Patrick Stewart and the first woman in Star Trek, have attended StarFest. . Captain of series host Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager).

The founders of StarFest, shown in 1977, were among the first in the world to show the Star Wars trailer.

StarFest is one of Denver’s first events for everything to do with Star Trek, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and more, following the also formative Mile High Con, which has continued to be literary since its debut in 1969. StarFest, though, was Denver’s first media-focused convention that attracted a passionate fandom of TV, movies, and comics.

In recent years, pop culture conventions have become a multi-billion dollar industry, steadily moving away from the kinship atmosphere of the original conventions.

“I know the big cons — they are there. The one that’s going to be in Denver right now, the Fan Expo… they have about 12 others that they’re doing all over the country,” Walker said. “StarFest is just a different show. We have families that have been coming here for decades, people who have gotten married here, and hosts and volunteers who have also been with us for decades.”

This kind of institutional knowledge will be impossible to replace in Denver’s pop culture scene, but it’s not clear how young fans care about that. In recent years, StarFest has given way to the event now known as Fan Expo Denver (formerly Denver Pop Culture Con, formerly Denver Comic Con), with its million-square-foot layout at the Colorado Convention Center and dozens of TV – and film conferences. , comics and literary guests among panels, shopping alleys, cosplay contests and performances.

This corporate event, like many others, is indebted to the groundbreaking StarFest, which eliminated excesses in its industry long before it was even considered one. His celebrity encounters and signings, cosplay (even before the term was coined in Japan), and cross-genre approach attracted nerds, geeks, and fanatics of all types who may have felt intimidated or ignored in other social media.

According to Walker, when StarFest started, it was promoted by face-to-face meetings, such as clubs that would get together to watch Star Trek episodes on VHS tape. Since then, StarFest has expanded into cons within cons such as ArtFest, ComicFest, GameFest, HorrorFest, KlingonFest, and ScienceFest.

“We try to do a little bit of everything and not just mess around,” Walker said. “But it has become so expensive. Hotel fees have gone up – and you can’t blame them during the pandemic because they’ve been devastated – and it’s become very expensive to bring in actors.”