BronyCon to leave Baltimore in 2019 with one final, big-time bash

With fewer fans showing up and the novelty perhaps waning, organizers of BronyCon, the annual celebration of everything My Little Pony, say they’ve decided to quit while they’re still ahead.

Next year’s gathering, the 11th, will be the last, they announced at the end of last weekend’s BronyCon.

“It’s something that we really deliberated at length,” said Sheva Goldberg, co-chair of the event, which has been staged at the Baltimore Convention Center since 2013. “We’ve decided to put everything we have into one last incredible year.”

BronyCon began in 2012 with about 100 people showing up at a Manhattan conference center. Attendance peaked in 2015, the event’s third year in Baltimore, at more than 10,000 fans. It’s been declining steadily since, from 7,609 in 2016 to 6,319 last year to 5,465 for this year’s gathering.

The convention, held twice in 2011 and 2012 before going annual in 2013, brings together fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.”

The animated TV series, which debuted in 2010, is based on a line of toys produced and marketed by Hasbro. At the center of the series is a unicorn named Twilight Sparkle and a princess named Celestia who live in the town of Ponyville, where they learn about friendship and all it entails.

Goldberg, 22, a program manager for Microsoft who lives in Seattle, says it wasn’t just — or even primarily — the attendance numbers that led to the end of BronyCon.

Enthusiasm “isn’t quite as strong as it used to be,” Goldberg said. “We felt that it is starting to fade, and rather than continuing it, we wanted to leave everyone remembering what BronyCon is at its best.”

To that end, she said, the convention will expand next year from three days to four. The event is scheduled for Aug. 1 to 4, 2019. Details have yet to be finalized, but Goldberg promised a greater range of fan experiences than the cosplaying, vendor tables and talent appearances available to fans this year.

“We have a couple of guests we’ve been trying to get, and we have some unique plans, especially for Thursday,” she said. “There are going to be a whole bunch of things that have never been done before.”

“My Little Pony” fans aren’t the only ones who will miss BronyCon. Last year’s gathering had an economic impact of nearly $3.6 million on the city, according to figures provided by Visit Baltimore.

“BronyCon was led by a dedicated team of volunteers who worked tirelessly to plan and execute the event every year,” Al Hutchinson, president and CEO of Visit Baltimore, wrote in an email. “We thank both the event organizers and the fans for their partnership and dedication to Baltimore over the past six years.”

Goldberg, who’s been to every BronyCon since the convention arrived in Baltimore, had nothing but praise for the city and its annual embrace of “My Little Pony” culture.

“Baltimore has been the best home for BronyCon that we could have imagined,” she said. “I am so happy to be able to throw one last event in Baltimore. That’s where our heart is.”

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