by Allen J. Sheinman | September 16, 2011
The list

Every few months we like to review some of the more esoteric gatherings taking place around this weird and wild country of ours. Here are some of our current favorites:

1. MerCon ( When these attendees wax poetic about tail fins, they don't mean classic 1950s cars. We're talking mermaids, and this past August more than 1,000 of them, including sundry mermen and aquatic fans in general, took part in the first annual MerCon, featuring the International Mermaid Pageant, held at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Among the events was a somewhat less-than-cutthroat pageant ("all participants win awards!"), and fans flocked to see Hannah Fraser, an ocean environmentalist and "professional mermaid," flap her flipper. Organizers promise another event in 2012, so keep your gills oiled, gang.

2. FaerieCon ( If mermaids are too down-to-earth gritty for you, there's always the world of faeries (that's the ultra-magical way of spelling them). This year's FaerieCon is being held Nov. 4-6 at Marriott's Hunt Valley (Md.) Inn, where attendees will sport their gossamer gowns, robes and taffeta wings as they flit about the exhibits, musicians, storytellers and workshops. Some highlights: "Small Goblin Sculpting Class" and "A Walk With the Fae," described as "a personal journey to allow the nature spirits to help you learn to see the doorways of this reality." (Hint: It's a far cry from your standard reality.)

3. Celebrity Impersonator's Convention ( Next February will marks the 12th annual Celebrity Impersonator's Convention, to be held somewhere in (where else?) Las Vegas, and if it's anything like this year's event at the Golden Nugget, a lot of people will be dressed as Austin Powers and crying out, "Groovy, baby!" A highlight is the gala Reel Awards, "honoring the best lookalikes and tribute artists in the business." Next year, look for multiple Chaz Bonos and Michele Bachmanns, but be warned: The Elvis impersonators always hog the buffet.

4. NFDA International Convention & Expo ( As if the National Funeral Directors Association isn't lively enough on its own, this year they've joined forces with the Cremation Association of North America to "bring together the entire funeral service community for one extraordinary event." Taking place Oct. 23-26 at Chicago's McCormick Place Lakeside Center, the NFDA International Convention & Expo offers a full slate of activities, including a Funeral Directors Under 40 Night on the Town and the 2011 Funeral Service Foundation Golf Classic (please, no jokes about a sudden-death playoff).

5. Superman Celebration ( What do you do when your town has the same name as the town a famous comic-book hero lives in? You milk it for all it's worth, that's what, and the good folks in Metropolis, Ill., have been doing so for more than 30 years with their annual Superman Celebration. Last June's event featured activities such as a "window-painting contest at the Man of Steel Tent," karaoke in the Smallville Tent, and an appearance by actor Brandon Routh, who played the title role in Superman Returns. Next year's celebration, the 34th, takes place June 9-12, and as always, no X-ray vision is permitted during the Lois Lane swimsuit competition.

Source: Meetings & Conventions