This was the first time I was an invited guest of Philcon. I was very excited to attend. I have attended other conventions, even working on staff, for a number of years but had very little experience with this convention. Being asked to be there as a guest was just fantastic.
It’s good to be lucky in friends – and I am. I was able to hitch a ride with my friend Mary and split a room 4 ways with some other friends. It was nostalgic to get back to that kind of feeling, get to the con on a tight budget. My friends made my convention much more fun than it might have otherwise been. I had a great weekend – even if I did forget my socks. I remembered to do the laundry before I departed, just missed that one little detail on the way out the door.
The folks working the convention were nothing but nice to me. Long before everything got underway I threw myself on the mercy of the program committee. I was rewarded greatly! I was able to be on a technology panel, two art panels, a literary panel, a gaming panel and a fan panel! It was a remarkably diverse set of folks I got to hang out with and I was thrilled to meet some new friends and fellow fans.
There was great conversation and interesting viewpoints. I’m not going to give a panel for panel breakdown here. The best way to get in on these conversations is to attend. Get out there and go to a convention! You might discover an artist or author you like. You could hear how language is being preserved, how long is too long for a book series or where a really good fan fiction site is. You could watch an anime you’ve never had the chance to see or play a game you’ve wanted to try ever since you heard about it from a friend.
IF you’re really lucky you’ll be part of an epic story like the Bridesmaid Brawl… Defend the Pizza!
This great weekend was not without its issues. I was fortunate not to have issues of my own, but many of the folks I know did have problems. I heard complaints about the failings of other guest schedules. There were tracks or topics that had been on program for many years that failed to appear this year. The schedules were delivered late and the web site was terribly slow to update. The actual schedule for things like the opening of the dealer room were in question. Certain events failed to get advertising and died before ever getting off the ground. The con suite seemed to be thin on the snack front. It could have been the times I was there, but for the most part the gaming suite was far better stocked (the bonus being you could jump in on a game while you snacked as well). These sort of things can happen to a convention being run by fans and volunteers. There was one thing I noticed that can’t happen to a convention – at least not often or the convention will fail.
Attendees were few and far between. It might have been timing – world fantasy convention was just a week or two before and it was in Washington DC so many folks that might have gone to Philcon could have blown the budget there and skipped this year. It might have been the proximity to Thanksgiving travel. I could be completely wrong about the number of folks that were there – but it certainly didn’t feel that way. I saw a lot of empty seats at the panels. There certainly weren’t crowds in the hallways. I was on one panel where the panelists outnumbered the audience two to one. It made for a conversational atmosphere while we were sitting there but it worries me for the future. I hope more folks sign up and show up. This con gave me the feeling it was old, possibly dying and that would be a shame.
I hope next year to be invited again. I hope you will sign up and get there too. I also hope I remember my socks next year.