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We love Cosplay and Cosplayers, and it is a huge part of why we love doing BLERDFEST!

We will be having a COSPLAY THROWDOWN, with different categories based on age and experience, judged by experienced Cosplayers, with prizes awarded!


Please review our Cosplay Policies below, then submit this form.


Please join the mailing list on our CONTACT page for updates!








Effective Date: February 17, 2023


BLERDFEST! reserve the right to modify and/or update this policy and these rules at any time in their sole discretion and without prior notice.




BLERDFEST! celebrates the creativity of Cosplayers and encourage everyone to cosplay whomever they wish – regardless of size, gender, age, religion, shape, color, or even species. Cosplay is all about having fun!


This competition is open to all skill levels and factors in performance, showmanship, and stage presence. There are pre-qualification rules, a limited number of open spots, and includes segments for both walk-ons and skits.

You must be a registered BLERDFEST! 2023 Attendee in order to compete. Each member of your group must have a pass, wristband, or other forms of Attendee membership.


Contestants under the age of 18 need a Parent or legal Guardian present at the COSPLAY THROWDOWN and that Parent or Guardian must have previously signed the COSPLAY RULES OF PARTICIPATION waiver in order for that Contestant to compete in the COSPLAY THROWDOWN.


The COSPLAY THROWDOWN is open to characters from published works; movies, TV shows, comic books, cartoons, anime, manga, video games, and card games. If your costume has won a major award before at another cosplay competition, you are not eligible for any awards in this contest. Rule breakers will be disqualified.


BLERDFEST! Is a family-friendly event and strictly adheres to the “PG-13 rule” when it comes to language and hand gestures on stage. Violation of this rule may cause you to be disqualified from the competition.




Sign-Up for the Cosplay Contest here. Only one entry per group is allowed.

If you enter a skit, the audio recording (or a download link) must be submitted to us via email on or before the deadline to be considered for approval.

Once your entry is confirmed, you must check in at Cosplay HQ (Room TBD) at your scheduled judging time or you will be dropped from the COSPLAY THROWDOWN. Additionally, please let us know how many parents/handlers you will be bringing backstage with you at your check-in so we can make sure enough seats are available during the contest.

Pre-judging is NOT open to the public. Only participants, handlers, and Parents/Guardians are allowed.




Costumes will be evaluated on the following criteria:


1. Execution – How well the costume is constructed and finished.


2. Fidelity – How closely the costume resembles the source material and/or how well it interprets and reminds the Judges of the design of the source material. (Adaptations made with intent/purpose and explained adequately to the Judges will never count against you in this area). NOTE: “FIDELITY” DOES NOT PERTAIN TO ANY PERCEIVED ETHNICITY OR RACIAL BACKGROUND OF THE CHARACTER. ALL RACEFACING (EMULATING THE PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS [SUCH AS HAIR TEXTURE, SKIN COLOR, OR FACIAL FEATURES] OF ANOTHER RACIAL GROUP) IS PROHIBITED.


3. Complexity – How wide the range of skills used in the project, and the difficulty level of those techniques.


4. Creativity – Thoughtful use of materials, ingenuity, personalized embellishments, etc.


5. Original Design entries will be evaluated on Thoughtfulness/Appeal of Design, rather than Fidelity. More on Original Design entries below.



Pre-judging portion will take place from Noon-2 pm, during a time slot that you will sign up for after general contest sign-ups have closed (you will be notified via email when these will open). During pre-judging, contestants will display their costumes to a panel of Judges, where they will have a chance to inspect costumes and props from a close distance. Contestants will be evaluated one entry at a time, in a private room with the Judges and Cosplay Coordinator or Assistant Coordinator present.


Individual entries will be judged on the quality and construction of a single costume (including props and accessories) and will have 5 minutes with the Judges. Group entries may have 2-9 Cosplayers. They will be judged based on the quality and construction of the Group as a whole – the entire Group will receive a single score, and have up to 10 minutes with the Judges. Costumes must be made by the Contestant (or for Groups, by someone in your group).


You may model a costume for someone else, but the Creator of the costume must be present at pre-judging, to answer questions about the costume build. Commissioned costumes or mass-produced/second-hand purchased costumes are NOT eligible for craftsmanship awards. These types of costumes are only permitted to participate as skit performance entries, and will only qualify for skit performance awards.


Judges and Staff reserve the right to adjust your category if they deem that you/your cosplay was entered at a level too far below the appropriate category according to your skills/experience. Contestants will not be bumped to a lower category than the one they enter.


Size and mobility of your costume should be taken into consideration, and for purposes of safety your costume should conform to the following limitations while worn:


• Costumes worn anywhere on Event premises must not obstruct or impede the flow of traffic or entryways. Costumes must fit through a standard doorway (the size/type in your home).


• Attendees with bulky costumes, costumes that obscure the vision, or costumes with large extensions such as wings or spikes, should have (1) designated “handler,” to assist them on stage and through the hallways and crowds.

• Any use of height-enhancement equipment (such as stilts or platforms) may not be home-built, and may not raise the Cosplayer more than 8 inches off the ground.

• Shoes are required at all times.


• Costumes and clothing should not expose the body in such a way as to be deemed indecent exposure by the City of New Orleans or the State of Louisiana. Private parts must be covered in an opaque material that will not slip or have gaps. Body-paint costumes are not eligible for craftsmanship.


• Males wearing tight-fitting costumes are required to wear a dance belt.


• Functioning wheels cannot be used as part of a costume or prop (i.e. anything that you might ride, push, or pull). We love your creativity, but please save the wheeled costumes/props for your photoshoots.


• No costumes may be realistic depictions of American law enforcement, current American military uniforms, first responders, emergency medical personnel, or any official government agent. “Vintage,” historical, any non-current uniforms, and any military or police-style costumes may be addressed at the convention’s discretion (i.e., Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, etc.)


• If your cosplay does have a weapon, please check the Prop/Replica Weapon Policy below.


All costumes must be derived from an existing fandom/published piece of media. Completely Original Characters such as your own DnD character, Fan-based Original Characters (like “Sailor Earth”), a character from an original story you/your friends created, your Fursona, etc. will not be permitted in this competition. Derivative Work/Fanart re-designs and avatar characters compiled for the player character from MMO/console games are all permitted, with appropriate reference art.


Costumes made based on non-canon designs (fan art) that were NOT designed by you must be able to source the Artist (Sakizou, Hannah Alexander, Zach Fisher, Sunset Dragon, No Flutter, etc.) and provide proof of the Artist.  Examples include: links to or screen-captures of the artwork published on the Artists own platform (Patreon, Deviantart, their own website, etc) where their name (and possibly other works) can be seen. “I found this on tumblr/pixv/pinterest/art-share account” is NOT an acceptable source.


Designs commissioned explicitly/exclusively for you/not publicly available must include proof of the exchange with the Artist, and/or a link/screen-capture of where their other work can be found.


*Original Designs must provide your concept art and/or your inspirational materials in place of traditional “reference images” – for example, if you are doing a mash-up design of Mario in the style of Borderlands, but have not created a single “completed” image, you would include images of Mario from his original source(s), as well as images from Borderlands.


Historical mashups may include pictures of the character from canon, as well as examples of the types of garments you drew inspiration from. One canon image with no additional references will not be accepted.




  • Catwalk: 12 & under – AUDIENCE CHOICE


  • Teens (13-17): Teens who made up to 50% of their costume (with/without parental assistance)


  • Adult (Beginner): 0-2 years of costume making; made up to 50% of their costume


  • Adult (Intermediate): 2-4 years of costume making; made up to 60% of their costume


  • Adult (Advanced): 4+ years of costume making; made up to 75% of their costume


  • Group (2 or more people – any age): 50% of costume must have been made by participants


  • Skit Performance: All ages




Although we are sure you have excellent taste in music, you will not be able to submit your own track for your walk on. We will choose from our fine selection of licensed music so we don’t get sued, so don’t get mad.

Walk-on entries will be limited to 30 seconds and may include up to 8 people as a Group.

Walk-on entries (OVER the age of 12) are required to attend craftsmanship pre-judging. If you skip this, you will not be eligible to receive awards or participate in the contest.




All performances must be screened for general content. You will be expected to provide the following upon acceptance to the contest: (1) a script, to be reviewed for content and approval; and (2) any music or voice over recordings.


The script should include any spoken dialogue, general blocking (i.e. Character A sword fights with Character B); any style of dance (i.e. Belly Dancing, Ballet, etc.); or if you are doing a dance cover, a link to a video of the original choreography.


Audio for your performance must be pre-recorded. No live microphones will be permitted. The audio files will be due AFTER final approval of your script, and does NOT have to be included at time of sign-up. It will be submitted by uploading into the same shared folder you provide when you sign up.


Any individual set piece must be capable of being carried by no more than two (2) people, and capable of fitting through a standard interior doorway, like the ones in your home. Please be prepared for full lights at all times.


The Cosplay Coordinator may ask for additional information or clarification. If there is anything questionably against the rules or deemed inappropriate, you may be rejected, or asked to make changes and given a window of time to re-submit your entry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you decide to make revisions after you’ve been accepted to the show, you will need to notify the coordinator of these changes, so they can also be reviewed for approval.





Effective Date: February 17, 2023


BLERDFEST! reserve the right to modify and/or update this policy and these rules at any time in their sole discretion and without prior notice.


Your participation in BLERDFEST! Events means that you agree to comply with this Prop/Replica Weapons Policy. An “Event” shall mean any event held by BLERDFEST!.


You further understand and agree that, for your own safety and the safety of everyone at an Event, BLERDFEST! has the absolute and immediate discretion and right to inspect your costumes, prop weapons, and any other item you bring to the Event. We may temporarily or permanently remove any attendee in our sole and absolute discretion at any time for violating this Prop/Replica Weapons Policy – because your safety and the safety of every Attendee is of the utmost importance. When in doubt, our Staff will err on the side of caution, and we expect Cosplayers to do the same.


All individuals will be screened upon entry. If you are bringing a prop weapon of any kind to BLERDFEST! as part of your costume, whether an entrant in our costume contest or not, you MUST IMMEDIATELY REPORT TO THE INFO BOOTH UPON ENTRY TO BLERDFEST! At the info booth, our Staff will individually inspect each prop weapon. Prop weapons that pass inspection will be given a tag, clearly marking to Staff and Attendees that it is a costume piece and is appropriate. Plenty of props and prop weapons are unsafe when used inappropriately. A prop weapon that passes safety inspection may still be removed from the premises if used in a careless, dangerous, or otherwise irresponsible manner.


Staff will use the following guidelines to judge what prop weapons are appropriate.


Prohibited Items


No Real Weapons Are Allowed at an Event.


This includes firearms, knives, curios, relic antique firearms, any form of ammunition, any items designed or manufactured with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, whether carried openly or concealed, even if any such weapons are inoperable or unusable and irrespective of whether you are licensed to possess such weapons. Items that may otherwise be legal for you to own or carry are not welcome at any Event if they violate this Prop/Replica Weapons Policy.


The following items are not permitted at any BLERDFEST! Event:


• All Metal Weapons


• Firearms, ammunition, rifles, shotguns, handguns, blowguns, tasers, laser pointers, laser-aiming devices or similar laser devices


• No prop weapons designed to appear identical to real guns are allowed, whether they are made of appropriate materials or not. A Fallout Cosplayer, for example, can bring a self-built plasma rifle. Leave the Chinese Assault Rifle at home!


• Costume or prop weapons, made of papier mache, plaster of Paris, cloth, balsa wood, and other prop-grade materials may be acceptable if they follow all the rules within this policy.


• Any item capable of firing projectiles will not be allowed, whether or not it is loaded. This includes airsoft guns, Nerf guns, water guns, BB and pellet guns, and others, as we deem appropriate.


• Costume weapons may NOT include moving parts or pieces. Any costume piece made from real gun parts, even parts now rendered inoperable, are not acceptable. 


• Props or costumes that have or create polytechnics, explosives, loud noises, flash bangs or things that make a mess of any type (yes that includes glitter) are strictly prohibited.


• No explosives, incendiary devices, chemical weapons, and pepper spray / mace.


• No knives, live blades / swords (including Katana and other martial arts-style swords), daggers, sword canes, switchblades, Bali-Song (Butterfly knife), axes, Kunai, ice skates, and hatchets.


• Metal pole arms, wooden / metal bats, paddles, stilts, golf clubs, and vuvuzelas.

• Bows or crossbows, provided they are strung with string, twine, or some other non-weapon grade substitute may be acceptable if they follow all the rules within this policy. The bow must be capable of producing no pull when drawn. Arrows or bolts must be dull. No archery or hunting bows or arrows.


• No nunchucks, brass knuckles, or whips.


• Any item designed or manufactured with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person or property, any item that is illegal in the City of New Orleans or the state of Louisiana, or any item that appears, in BLERDFEST!’s sole discretion, to be dangerous or which would pose or place others at risk or harm, immediate or otherwise.


Peace Bonding


Prop weapons must be submitted to “Weapons Check” for Peace Bonding. BLERDFEST! has the sole discretion to approve prop weapons. Please visit us at one of our Weapons Check booths during the Event. Other Event Weapons Check Booth locations shall be designated in the programs and on signs.


We may revoke your Peace Bond at any time in our sole discretion. Behavior which will warrant revocation of your Peace Bond includes:


• Brandishing an item in an inappropriate fashion, such as play-fighting or swinging the prop around


• Causing complaints from other Attendees of the Event


• Tampering or altering of the Peace Bond


Prop Weapons


Prop weapons are inoperable weapons that support the overall look of your costume or character. For example, plastic airsoft guns, Nerf guns, water guns, dart guns, disc guns, pellet guns, and cap guns are prop weapons.


Peace Bonding Rules


If a prop weapon is, or was, at any time capable of firing anything, it must be rendered permanently inoperable in order to qualify for Peace Bonding. You can do this by, for example, permanently plugging the barrel with glue, caulk, or any non-removable substance and hot gluing all moving components of the prop in place. You must be able to prove that the prop weapon is permanently inoperable upon inspection.


In addition, to qualify for Peace Bonding, your prop weapon must meet the following criteria:


• All bladed props, prop firearms and prop knives cannot contain metal, have metal components, or have metal-based paints on them. Note: Lightsabers with metal hilts are allowed.


• Your prop weapon cannot be more than 7’ in any direction or weigh more than 15 lbs.


• Prop explosives or ammunition cannot be made out of metal.


• All swords and bladed prop weapons must adhere to the following rules: a) They cannot be made out of metal; If your non-metal blade has a sharp edge or pointed tip, it must be anchored to a hard sheath for the duration of the Event; If you do not have a hard sheath, your non-metal blade must have a blunt edge and blunt tip


• All prop bows must be unstrung or have a low-tensile thread with no draw weight and be incapable of shooting.


• All prop arrows must have blunt non-metal tips.


• Metal chains are not permitted unless it is for cosplay and affixed to a piece of clothing and/or armor.


• Any prop chain must be under 7’ to avoid safety and fire hazards.


If your prop weapon is a toy, look-alike, or imitation firearm, then federal regulations (15 CFR § 272.3) require that it either be translucent enough to, permit unmistakable observation of the device’s complete contents or must have at least one of the following:


• An Orange Solid Plug in Barrel: Have a blaze orange (Fed-Std-595B 12199) or orange color brighter than that specified by the federal standard color number solid plug permanently affixed to the muzzle end of the barrel as an integral part of the entire device and recessed no more than 6 millimeters from the muzzle end of the barrel; or


• An Orange Barrel Marking: A blaze orange (Fed-Std-595B 12199) or orange color brighter than that specified by the federal standard color number, marking permanently affixed to the exterior surface of the barrel, covering the circumference of the barrel from the muzzle end for a depth of at least 6 millimeters; or


• Entire Surface Coloration: Coloration of the entire exterior surface of the device in white, bright red, bright orange, bright yellow, bright green, bright blue, bright pink, or bright purple, either singly or as the predominant color in combination with other colors in any pattern.


Please take care when outside or when transporting any form of firearm prop.


Regardless of how realistic the prop may look, ensure that it is completely hidden while traveling and be aware of your surroundings, attire, and the appearance of your props to bystanders when outside of the Event. Do not assume a costume will reassure people that your prop is not a real weapon.


Peace-Bonded Weapons at the Event


You may display your prop weapons only as costume pieces. Do not swing or brandish your prop weapon in any way that could be considered unsafe or threatening.


You may pose with a prop weapon in a brandishing manner, so long as no reasonable person would interpret it as anything but a pose for dramatic effect. Event staff or management may stop your posed brandishing in their sole discretion.


Please put your prop weapons away when leaving the Event site at night so that you don’t get the attention of local law enforcement. BLERDFEST! cannot be responsible for any actions taken by local law enforcement agencies, such as detaining and questioning you, if you decide to display or brandish your prop weapons at or outside of the Event.

Everyday Items


• Items that people normally carry such as umbrellas or walking sticks/canes are permitted within the Event and subject to inspection upon entry.


• Lightweight plastic or foam bats, paddles, and clubs are permitted.


• Roller skates, skateboards, scooters, go-karts, hoverboards, etc. are not permitted within the Event area.


• Ice Skates are not allowed, even with skate guards attached.


• Power tools are not permitted e.g. chainsaws, drills, or hedge trimmers.


Buying Weapons at the Event


All Prop / Replica weapons purchased at the Event must remain sealed in its original packaging while at the Event. If you would like to use your Prop / Replica weapon at the Event, you must submit your item to a “Weapons Check” booth for peace bonding.


Martial Arts Performances and Demos


You may display working martial arts weapons during, and 30 minutes before and after, a performance that has been approved by Event management in advance.


Of course, you must use common sense to avoid harming any person or property. You must conceal or wrap the weapons when transporting them to and from the demonstration, and you must remove the weapons immediately after the demonstration. Event staff reserves the right to stop any performance or demonstration in their sole discretion.


Law Enforcement Uniformed Costumes



It is against the law to impersonate local law enforcement, emergency personnel, or first responders. BLERDFEST! has the absolute right and sole discretion to decide whether your costume looks too much like one of these uniforms, and to request the removal or modification of that costume. Should you refuse to cooperate, we may expel you from the Event in order to protect the safety and welfare of everyone at the Event.


We are here to serve the Attendees of BLERDFEST! so if you have any questions, let us know!

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