A Short History of OKon  By Tim Frayser

OKon was a science fiction convention held yearly in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There were 15 OKons, running from 1977 through 1992. OKon was organized and run by fans in the now-defunct local science fiction club, STARbase Tulsa. 

Over the years, OKon raised thousands of dollars for local charities (the Tulsa Recreation Center for the Physically Limited, the Brass Ring Society, Project Get-Together) as well as national organizations (the American Diabetes Association, the Arthritis Foundation, the American Cancer Society). OKon 8 in 1985 was the largest, with attendance well over 2,000. That year, the convention raised $8,000 for charity.
OKon #
OKon I Guests of Honor: C.J. Cherryh and R. A. Lafferty The first OKon was expected to draw about 300 people; over 900 showed up. The dealer's room at the  Trade Winds Central Hotel was so crowded people lined up to go through one  door, were herded through in single file, then out another door. The 
hotel room of Wilson "Bob" Tucker was burglarized during the con; the intruders took everything, including Tucker's glasses. The tradition began of having OKon on the third weekend of July every year. The first OKon was able to donate $1,000 to the Tulsa Recreation Center for the Physically Limited. 
OKon II Guest of Honor: Joe Haldeman 
Fan Guest of Honor: Lee Killough 
Toastmaster: C.J. Cherryh
The second OKon found a home in the majestic Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa. 
Steve Kimmel was chairman of Okon that year. Films were to be shown in one of the large meeting rooms which had a beautiful skylight-- unfortunately, it made showing films during daytime hours impossible. Rolls of black plastic were purchased by the con committee and taken to the roof to cover the skylight. Over 1,500 people attended, and the con raised $2,500 for the American Diabetes Foundation. 

"Star Wars' won the Hugo at Worldcon that year for Best Dramatic Presentation. 
Frederick Pohl's "Gateway" won the Hugo, as well as the Nebula award, for Best Novel. 

OKon III Guest of Honor: Jack Williamson 
Fan Guest of Honor: Margaret Middleton 
Toastmaster: Robert Aspirin
The Mayo Hotel again was the site for OKon, which attracted 1,200 fans, despite several problems. One month before the con, there was a comic convention in Tulsa which many fans attended thinking it was OKon. The hotel also booked a wedding for Sunday of the con-- to be held in the dealer's room. So, Saturday night, the con had to move all the dealer's tables out of the dealer's room and into the smaller video room; some tables ended up in the hallways. Nevertheless, a  grand total of $1,500 was collected on behalf of the Arthritis Foundation. At opening ceremonies, Williamson received a standing ovation on behalf of his achievements in science fiction. Okon held its first masquerade that year. 

C.J. Cherryh's "Cassandra" won the Hugo that year for Best Short Story. The 
Dramatic Presentation award went the the movie "Superman."

OKon IV Guest of Honor: Alan Dean Foster 
Fan Guests of Honor: Shelby Bush III & Mary Kay Jackson 
Toastmaster: Gordon R. Dickson
Over 2,000 people attended the 4th OKon, and the convention was able to donate 
$4,500 to the Arthritis Foundation. Guest of Honor Alan Dean Foster had an unpleasant experience at OKon which was later recorded in an editorial on the state of fandom by Harlan Ellison. ("Xenogenesis," reprinted in "Edgeworks: the Collected Ellison.") Ellison was in fact once invited to be a guest at OKon. In his reply letter, Ellison declined, stating he would rather "eat a maggot sandwich" than visit Oklahoma in July. (He also copyrighted the letter so that the con could not publish it.) . 
The majestic Mayo Hotel, OKon's convention hotel in downtown Tulsa, was suddenly sold and closed down early in 1981. With no other suitable venue to relocate to, that year's OKon had to be cancelled. However, much of the con committee worked on Panopticon West, a Doctor Who convention in Tulsa which featured Peter Davison, the 5th Doctor, as Guest of Honor. 
OKon V Guest of Honor: Wilson "Bob" Tucker 
Artist Guest of Honor: Frans Kelly Freas 
Fan Guest of Honor: Polly Freas 
Special Fan Guest of Honor: Frederic Pohl 
Toastmistress: Lee Killough 
Special Guest: James P. Hogan
C.J. Cherryh won the Best Novel Hugo that year for her novel "Downbelow 
OKon VI Guests of Honor: Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle 
Artist Guest of Honor: Real Musgrave 
Fan Guest of Honor: Marty Burke 
Toastmaster: Gordon R. Dickson
OKon  '83 was held in downtown Tulsa at the Excelsior Hotel (later sold and renamed the Doubletree), which gave the convention such grief that the con announced in the program book the next year's convention would be held at a different hotel. One fan managed to shove a broadsword through one of the hotel walls. Over 1,500 attended the con, which raised money for the American Cancer Society. OKon also hosted FilkCon East that year, with Bill Maraschiello and other filkers in attendance.  Flyers promoting a bid to have the 1988 World Science Fiction Convention in Tulsa were distributed at several conventions that year, but not enough support was gathered for the bid. 
OKon VII Guest of Honor: Stephen R. Donaldson 
Artist Guests of Honor: David Cherry & Victoria Wheeler 
Fan Guests of Honor: Buck & Juanita Coulson 
Toastmaster: James P. Hogan
At OKon  '84, the hat was passed to raise money to help Kansas writer Rob Chilson, who suffered a recent apartment fire. A charity auction raised almost $800 for him. The big thing at the con that year was the preview of the upcoming film "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai." Banzai headbands floated around town for years. It marked the first time OKon met its room block at the con hotel-- it this case, it was even exceeded. In the OKon art show, 45 artists displayed 379 works of art, grossing over $7,200 in sales. 

The 1984 Worldcon was in Los Angeles that year, with 1983 Toastmaster Gordon R. Dickson the Guest of Honor. "Return of the Jedi" won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation.

OKon VIII Guest of Honor: James P. Hogan 
Artist Guest of Honor: Phil Foglio 
Fan Guest of Honor: Ken Moore 
Toastmaster: C.J. Cherryh 
Special Guest: Wilson "Bob" Tucker
For the second year in a row, the Sheraton Kensington was home to OKon, which raised a record donation for the Brass Ring Society: $8,000-- OKon donated more to the organization than CitiCorp of New York.  
OKon IX Guests of Honor: Kelly & Polly Freas 
Artist Guest of Honor: Carl Lundgren 
Fan Guest of Honor: Forrest J. Ackerman 
Toastmaster: Glen Cook 
Filk Guest of Honor: Julia Ecklar
Fan GoH  Forrest J. Ackerman astounded the congoers with his behind-the-scenes tales of Hollywood. Over 1,700 people attended the con, which again benefitted the Brass Ring Society. 

Following the Shuttle Challenger disaster, 1977 Guest of Honor C.J. Cherryh instigated the Challenger Campaign, to raise money for a full page ad in the New York Times supporting further activities in space. (Cherryh was nominated for a Hugo that year for her novel "Cuckoo's Egg.")

OKon X Guests of Honor: C.J. Cherryh & Wilson "Bob" Tucker 
Artist Guests of Honor: Muff & Real Musgrave 
Fan Guest of Honor: Jan Howard Finder 
Toastmasters: Lee & Pat Killough 
Filk Guest of Honor: Suzette Haden Elgin 
Special Guests: Larry Niven & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough 
Comic Guest of Honor: Richard Pini
Nineteen eighty-seven marked the tenth anniversary of OKon. R.A. Lafferty returned as Anniversary Guest, and C.J. Cherryh returned with Wilson "Bob" Tucker as Guests of Honor. Best in Show in the Costume Contest went to a fan dressed as the "Clam Man." Entertainment after the masquerade Saturday night featured the wedding of two con staffers. This was OKon's last year at the Kensington.
OKon XI Guests of Honor: Janet & Chris Morris 
Artist Guest of Honor: Vincent DiFate 
Filk Guest of Honor: Leslie Fish 
Toastmaster: Mike McQuay
Okon moved to its new home at the Camelot Hotel, where it remained until the 
end of its run four years later. OKon  '88  was nicknamed "OKon 88n't no beer" because of the sudden removal of beer from the con suite. Over 1,200 attended, despite the absence of local publicity, and the con raised money for the Brass Ring Society. 

"Star Trek IV: the Voyage Home" was nominated for a Hugo that year, but lost to 
"The Princess Bride" for Best Dramatic Presentation.  

OKon XII Guest of Honor: Robert Bloch 
Artist Guest of Honor: David Mattingly 
Fan Guest of Honor: Dr. David Govaker 
Toastmaster: Steven Gould 
Filk Guests of Honor: Technical Difficulties
Robert Bloch and Bob Tucker exchanged badges during the con, and happily signed each other's autographs for anyone who asked. OKon was able to contribute $6,500 to Tulsa Community Aid. 

C.J. Cherryh won the Hugo that year for Best Novel with her book "Cyteen." "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" won for Best Dramatic Presentation.

OKon XIII Guest of Honor: Hal Clement 
Artist Guest of Honor: Tom Kidd 
Fan Guest of Honor: Brad Sinor 
Toastmaster: David Lee Anderson 
Filk Guest of Honor: Mark Simmons 
Special Guest: Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Over 1,300 attended OKon  90. Special guest Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, 
received a Nebula award that year for her novel "The Healer's War." OKon's 
charity that year was Project Get Together. 
OKon XIV Guest of Honor: Jo Clayton 
Artist Guest of Honor: Lucy Sync 
Fan Guest of Honor: Real Musgrave 
Toastmaster: Warren Norwood 
Filk Guests of Honor: Barry & Sally Childs-Helton 
Special Guest: George Alec Effinger
By 1991, Okon was the largest and most popular convention in Oklahoma, with a core group of dedicated, hard-working staffers with over a decade of experience in convention operation. That was the year the convention chairman unilaterally announced that the 1992 convention would be the last OKon. 
OKon XV Guest of Honor: Elizabeth Ann Scarborough 
Artist Guest of Honor: David Lee Anderson 
Fan Guest of Honor: K.D. Wentworth 
Toastmaster: Mark Simmons 
Music Guest of Honor: Diana Gallagher 
Dog Guest of Honor: Sammy Twosocks
Held at the rapidly decaying Camelot Hotel, several room air conditioners exploded over the weekend, and many congoers refused to swim in the sickly-green swimming pool. 
Late Saturday night, someone set off a smoke bomb in one of the video rooms. Nine Tulsa Fire Dept. fire trucks responded to the alarm. The entire second floor was evacuated for several hours, and one person was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation. Immediately following closing ceremonies, lightning struck the roof of the Camelot, which soon closed down for good. 

STARbase Tulsa kept meeting for another year, but eventually disbanded. Several ex-members later joined together to start Conestoga in 1997. 

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