BronyCon, a convention for fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic television series and the My Little Pony franchise, had its final run this August 4th in Baltimore, Maryland. To many fans’ dismay, BronyCon ended just as the producers of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic wrapped the last season of the show.
Although My Little Pony was created to target young girls, the franchise has surprisingly targeted many adults, particularly grown men. They call themselves “Bronies,” a combination of “bro” and “pony.” The Brony community is mainly online, as users debate about possible plots of upcoming episodes, create fanart, and write fan fiction stories about their favorite pony characters. Though most Bronies limit their love for My Little Pony on the Internet to protect themselves from potential stigma, possible mockery does not stop them from gathering to meet each other in real life.
The first BronyCon in New York was created in 2011, and just over 100 fans attended. The number of BronyCon attendees only continued to increase. The final event this year drew 10,215 fans in, about an 87% increase to the convention’s 2018 attendance, making the 2019 event hold the highest attendance in BronyCon’s history.
Bronies are mostly men, but there are plenty of Bronies who are not. Women in the fandom call themselves “Lady Bronies” or “Pegasisters,” combining the words “Pegasus” and “sister.” Indeed, just as the creators of My Little Pony attended, there are plenty of children who are part of the fandom as well. Seeing younger fans at the conventions is common; teenagers often visit to buy My Little Pony-themed fan art and merchandise.
If BronyCon was just that successful and was able to attract such a large, diverse audience, why did it come to an end? On their official website, the organizers of BronyCon justified their decisions and had even offered to add an extra day to the convention, extending it from three days to four. They felt that they had three options:
1. By making the convention less about My Little Pony, BronyCon would be able to draw more audiences and could continue for many years even if My Little Pony’srelevance dies down.
2. BronyCon could continue being solely focused on My Little Pony, but the organizers should expect a downward trend in success and attendance. My Little Pony, which hit its peak popularity during the years 2014-15, is becoming less of a trend and has more of a cult following now. Therefore, fans who are more casual about their appreciation of this specific television show is natural, especially when the show ended. BronyCon would become far too small in the future.
Sheva Goldberg, the convention’s co-chair, remarked that enthusiasm for the show “isn’t as strong as it used to be” and wanted to “leave everyone remembering what BronyCon is at its best.” This leads to the third option:
3. End BronyCon for good.
Needless to say, it was the organizers’ final decision. Even so, BronyCon’s ending doesn’t mark the end of Bronies or the My Little Pony fandom. In the past, smaller My Little Pony-related cons have also begun and ended. After all, conventions are just bonuses for fans to enjoy; they are never part of the fandom’s foundation. An ever growing franchise producing more toys and pony characters, My Little Pony will continue to attract new fans and leave the current fanbase wanting more.