Bowling Green fandom owes its origins primarily to two individuals: Rickey Sheppard and Ben Bova. Back in 1977, Rickey Sheppard, then a student at Western Kentucky University, served on the University lecture series board. Being an avid science fiction reader, he used his influence to bring one of his favorite authors, Ben Bova, to WKU for a talk. After the lecture, Rickey and some of his friends took Mr. Bova out for dinner, during which they discussed science fiction in general, and science fiction fandom in particular. Ben Bova suggested that they should start a club, and being young and full of enthusiasm, Rickey and his friends did so.
The Western Kentucky University Speculative Fiction Society was thus born the next semester, in the spring of 1978, with Rickey serving as the first "chairbeing." The club held weekly meetings, hosted a successful series of film programs, sponsored a summer field trip to the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and even published a short-lived computer-generated fanzine called The Speculator. Some of the members, myself included, also started attending conventions. Our first convention as a group was Rivercon IV in the summer of '78. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the con and made fools of ourselves in the finest neofan tradition, we also felt a bit overwhelmed by it all. We quickly got over that, however, and started hosting parties at many of the cons we attended.
By 1980, we found ourselves hosting our own convention, UpperSouthClave 10/Concave 1. This was entirely unintentional and unplanned--the con sort of followed us home. Long story. Suffice it to say that Concave proved very successful, and has grown to be a late winter relaxacon tradition for many fans, filling every room in the Park Mammoth Resort and spilling out to several overflow hotels. Although the convention was never officially a function of the WKUSFS, it has always been run largely by its present and former members. The current chairman and registrar, Gary & Corlis Robe, now live in Kingsport, Tennessee, but are still able to put together a fun convention each year with the help of many local and not-so-local fans.
One of the problems with a University-based club is that people graduate and move on. After serving as the club's second chairbeing and chairing the first few Concaves, I graduated and moved to Huntsville. The club also went through several faculty sponsors, as their careers took them to other places. The club has gone through several peaks and valleys in its membership and activities, and has lately had something of a resurgence. Additionally, there is a loosely-knit group of former WKUSFS members who gather together on a regular basis. The club has survived all these years in large part thanks to the tireless efforts of Annette Carrico, who serves as librarian of the club's 300-book collection, and who hosts club parties on a regular basis, which serve as meeting points for past and present WKUSFS members. She also does a fantastic job running the con suite at Concave each year.
For further information about the WKUSFS, contact Annette Carrico, c/o Chemistry Department, Western Kentucky University, #1 Big Red Way, Bowling Green, KY 42101.