Fantasy fans will flood the Salt Palace Convention Center for FantasyCon on Fourth of July weekend, and we were among a handful of guests on a backstage tour this week of the warehouse, where a dragon is under wraps.

The head of FantasyCon's dragon 

The dragon, disassembled, arrived at the warehouse on June 25. When put together, it will have a 63-foot wingspan and stand three-stories. Fans submitted their favorite names for the dragon for a community vote. “We had a lot of Steves,” says Valerie Cameron-Walker, event coordinator. “There were also names we couldn’t pronounce, but they were creative and nearly everyone had a reason for their name.” 

The name has been narrowed down to two: Volos (a mythological god of dragons) and Scoria (the scientific name for lava rock). Fans can vote on the names on FantasyCon’s Facebook page.

FantasyCon took inspiration from The Lord of the Rings (specifically the Gates of Argonath), for its sentinels, created by Mark McDonough and his company Creative Visions. “Those are going to be 29-feet high,” Cameron Walker says. “We’re making it different from any other convention with all of these set pieces.”

Lance Butler and his company Caliston Armory are creating bows and arrows for the convention. 

A variety of bows created for the convention

“We’re cranking out 500 arrows to be used for the range,” Butler says. “We’ve got about 350 already completed.”

Butler and his crew go through 31 individual steps to make each arrow safe and legal to use at the convention. FantasyCon will have 16 archery lanes, where guests can shoot arrows for free.

A FantasyCon battle-axe

Caliston is also working on armor, shields, swords, battle-axes and more for cosplay (wearing costumes at the convention). “We generally haven’t hit the cosplay market, because we’ve been doing LARP (live action role-playing) forever," Butler says. "Going from something that has to be made so you can use it for combat and safely hit people as hard as you want to something that is never going to hit somebody is so much easier.”

We were also able to stroll the Hall of Heroes, where fantasy artwork from around the world will be displayed.

“I want to showcase fantasy art like it’s never been done before,” says Josh Patel, founder of FantasyCon. Unlike other conventions, where artists are tucked in a corner, FantasyCon’s artists will be a main attraction with large paintings, the biggest 6 by 10 feet. 

Along with the dragon, sentinels, cosplay and art, FantasyCon will feature celebrity guests, performances by Ballet West and more. 

FantasyCon is planning to only sell tickets to 40–50,000 guests.

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