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Not in Costume? No problem – come on down to the stage to cheer on your favorites for the Audience Choice Awards!

Craftsmanship Judging involves having your costume looked at up-close by our panel of cosplay judges. This competition is best for those who want to improve their costume-making skills or want to compete against others for awards and prizes.

If you are interested in participating in the cosplay contest without competing, we recommend entering under the Exhibition category instead of having your costume judged for craftsmanship.

For those who wish to have the costume judged at the event in-person, masks are encouraged to be worn during your judging session for the safety of our cosplay staff and yourself. We will be looking at your costume up-close and cannot practice social distancing during judging. An exception will be made for anyone with conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask.

Saturday: Kid’s Cosplay Parade

Kids in costumes get to show-off their cosplays – just show up to the Main Stage at 2:45 pm on Saturday!

Saturday: Cosplay Exhibition and Audience Choice Awards

Just show up to the Stage at 2:45 if you would like to participate in Saturday’s Contest and Exhibition – immediately following the Kid’s Cosplay Parade.

All Weekend: Cosplay Craftsmanship Awards

Located behind the stage, the Cosplay Judging Suite houses some amazing cosplayers who will be judging for the weekend’s Craftsmanship Awards. Made your own costume, complete character or amazing prop? Stop by and get in the running!

Judging is both days. On Saturday, stop by the judging suite from 11 am to 2 pm, and on Sunday, 12 – 1 pm. Craftsmanship Awards will be on the Main Stage at 3:30 on Sunday.

In order to have your costume judged for craftsmanship and to compete for craftsmanship awards, your costume must be *mostly* handmade. There is leeway that allows for found parts, or modified existing items that you did not make entirely. Purchased costumes will disqualify you for costume craftsmanship awards. For example, purchasing your costume from Amazon, Wish, or an online cosplay store -you are more than welcome to participate in the Exhibition instead.

Please provide reference material to your judging session. We suggest and recommend reference material printed on paper in case it is left or lost. Good references include:

  • A turnaround (at least a front and back view) of your cosplay.
  • Images of different views of the character you’re cosplaying as.
  • Any photos you have of the construction process.

Any items left behind during judging will be left at Lost and Found / Con-Ops at the end of day.

Craftsmanship Awards Judging Criteria

We judge costumes on the following criteria:

  • Construction (20 points) – How neat and clean is your costume construction? What do the seams look like? Were any corners cut or shortcuts taken? Were the proper materials/supplies used?
  • Attention to Detail (10 points) – How much effort was put into the minor details of the costume? Was focus put on the accessories, props, wig styling or other components of the costume that weren’t sewn? Were all components of the costume equally focused on?
  • Accuracy (10 points) – How close is your costume to the source material (within reason/reality)? Were reference photos provided? Original characters will receive 0 points for this automatically. An original design of an existing character can receive a maximum of 5 points for this, as long as the design is clearly derived from the original concept and is clearly recognizable as the character.
  • Creativity (5 points) – How creative were you when finding solutions to your costume? Maybe you learned a new craft specifically to make it?
  • Overall Presentation (5 points) – How do all the parts of your costume come together to create an overall polished look?

In total you can earn up to 50 points for craftsmanship. We will use this point total to determine who will win the top awards in each division. The number of awards is determined by the overall number of entrants who are competing and the number of entrants competing in each division.


Meet the Judges:

Our Cos-Slay contests this year are hosted by The Variant.  The Variant is a collective of writers, artists, cosplayers, photographers and most of all fans of the comic book culture that strives to take an exclusive look into the world of Comics, Cosplay and Conventions. We write our own stories and articles. We take our own pictures. We repost nothing from other sites. The content you see on our website is all 100% original and can’t be found anywhere else on the internet. In a world where rehashed ideas are the standard, we instead choose to give a “Variant” outlook at the fandoms, comics, cons and cosplayers you all know and love.

Visit their Website

Jenna Say What

Custom Caddy

Agent Crush Creative


Contest Rules and Guidelines

  • All private parts must be fully covered and not visible. Family friendly please!
  • Your costume cannot contain any hateful, offensive, or provocative symbols, designs or text.
  • Carolina Fear Fest is a Horror convention. However, we welcome cosplays from other origins, such as: Animation, games, movies, comics, film, etc.
  • We do not judge the physical appearance of the cosplayer for accuracy. Cosplay is for everyone.
  • Original Characters (OC) are hard to judge for accuracy. We will not turn away these types of costumes for craftsmanship judging. However, be aware that if you want to enter a completely original costume, you may receive a low score or a zero for accuracy (20% of your score). We recommend most people entering an OC / fan character to sign up under exhibition. Exceptions are often made for original designs based on historic origin, mythology, literature, or any other costume that is not based on an existing character. Examples might include a samurai or geisha based on paintings.
  • During craftsmanship judging, we are focused on judging your costume. Please leave in-character acting and improv for the hallways and/or stage. Please come to judging in-costume but as yourself to answer questions so we can give you the best score possible.
  • Be positive and talk-up your costume. Try not to focus or linger on any negative parts of your costume.
  • Write everything you’d like to tell the judges on a notecard and bring it to your judging session! Sometimes when under pressure, our minds can go blank.