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Little con on the prairie

Well, after stuckintraffik and I made the "mistake" of going to chebutykin's midnight screening of SW III: ROTS (belated shoutouts to cajones, davedujour, mesmericone, qob and a bunch of other people not on my friends list) we didn't get on the road to Marshall until about 10:30-11 AM and were further delayed by the need to stop by the Kinko's in Eden Prairie and reprint registration flyers, since I had stupidly left the ones I printed at work on my desk. We also needed to print off room party flyers, which we didn't actually use that many of, so now we have a buttload of expedient registration flyers and room party flyers. After that we stopped briefly at Wal-Mart and picked up pop and chips and dip for the room party. I also bought a Washington SenatorsNationals hat, which was not paid for by Anime Detour. My fiscal rectitude is pastede on, yay! Remainder hidden to spare those uninterested in my half-ass con report...

After that brief shopping spree, we headed down US-212 and arrived at the Comfort Inn shortly after 2 PM, with brief stops at the Chaska Hardee's for lunch and the Cenex in Sacred Heart for gas. We then drove around he corner to Southwest Minnesota State U, where me managed to find the con by following some people in to the student center.
One things that struck both of us almost immediately was the lack of signage directing us to registration, and we soon found out that this was matched by a really inadequate map. As tokenfanboy pointed out in his report, though, our map and signage was pretty miserable in 2004 too, so methinks it's pretty much an endemic first-year problem. Eventually Kale and I wound up wandering through the hallways like rats in search of cheese (except the cheese was equally mobile and equally lost...) looking for bam2 and kirikayumura, eventually settling down at the Chrono Crusade panel where bam2 greeted us with a hug and mad props for treating him and kirikayumura so well at AD. Aw, gosh. #^_^# The panel also featured Matt Greenfield and Tiffany Grant, and after the panel I had a good long talk with both of them and got commitments from them to attend AD 2006. w00t!

After that, we wandered through the dealer's room, talked to Emily DeJesus, John, and chibitoaster, eventually departing for the nearby Cenex for milk, a restorative Moon Pie, and twenty pounds of ice to chill the sodas. Party setup ensued, pizza was ordered, and we hadn't been rolling AMVs for more than fifteen minutes before the first fans dropped by. We eventually packed the room, went through about a case and a half of pop, and most of the pizza. Chips and dip remained intact and will be dished up (along with the soda) at the next staff meeting. We handed out a fair number of the registration flyers, people came and went (including Carrie, kirikayumura, Jeff Stenzel, chibitoaster and her son Allen) with Matt Greenfield and Tiffany Grant showing up about 11:30-ish. stuckintraffik rolled Vic Bond's "This Isn't What We Meant" and Scintilla's "The NERV Evening News With Dan Rather" for them, but unfortunately they couldn't stay long enough to see Kevin Caldwell's "Engel". We'll just have to burn a CD for them. ^_^ As it was, by the time midnight rolled around I was pretty much done for despite the steady consumption of Diet Coke, so we shut down and crashed, at which point I slept like a log for nine hours, waking up around 9 AM on Sunday to find Kale putting away the kit. Damn, he's quiet.

We didn't get much of a feel for the convention, and I'm not willing to evaluate SogenCon on the basis of what other people told us. Both Kale and I got plenty of recognition from our guests who were at SogenCon as well as our members who were checking it out; we got some potential guest commitments along with the egoboo, a couple of potential staff members, and we got some flyers out there. All in all we had a good convention, so I'm not complaining. It would be good to be able to spend more time down there next year and get a better feel for how things were going, but this year there was too much else going on. I'm looking forward to hearing what other people had to say about it.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 23rd, 2005 03:20 pm (UTC)
I'll give them props for having plenty of programming going on, something which No-Brand Con was in short supply of. Also all the panels I went to were great, of course I went to the GoH panels so I expected those to be good. One suggestion would be to have scheduled an actual autograph session with all the guests each day. All of the autographs I got were from impromptu sessions after their panels finished and people had to loan sharpies to one another. For some reason I only had a red sharpie in my camera bag so I was one of the people borrowing from other atendees. I think they had a good start. They mainly need more signage, a better map, and to see about making it not so spread out so stuff is easier to find. Otherwise good job. They had the limited number of staff/volunteer problem that we had our first year as well. I heard two of their main staff were gone due to a medical issue with one and the other was helping that person.

I did get some good feedback from people about Anime Detour. People thought the video room equipment was much improved and liked what we were showing. They thought the cosplay was much improved as well and enjoyed Josh as emcee. I was incognito, not even wearing a Detour t-shirt, and I still got recognized. I guess as mostly stationary targets the Video staff gets noticed by people.
May. 23rd, 2005 04:07 pm (UTC)
How was their attendance? I was hearing all kinds of numbers, but it was really hard to get a feel for the size of the membership given how spread out everything was. There didn't seem to be a central point that everyone was passing through, or maybe I just never found it.

Apropos of nothing, my favorite SogenCon moment: kirikayumura leading her panel attendees down the hall to a different panel and barging in, declaiming loudly "How DARE you hold a Full Metal Alchemist panel without me!" That was funny.
May. 23rd, 2005 05:12 pm (UTC)
I thought I heard someone say 300 prereg, but don't quote me on that. Didn't hear what the at-the-door was or any totals.
May. 23rd, 2005 06:28 pm (UTC)
That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. You heard 300, I heard anywhere from 100 to 900, and I heard warm body counts ranging from 100-300, so I dunno what the reality is. Maybe acdragonmaster can enlighten us, if she's so inclined. People seemed to be enjoying themselves, which is the main thing.
May. 25th, 2005 04:39 am (UTC)
Ahaha, I see my name in the comments there, I'll get to that question in a bit. XD

You know, if I'd had time to check up on things between ACen and Sogen and known you guys were coming, I totally would've said hi. As it was, by mid/late afternoon Friday I was the only one who had any idea of how to possibly get the video rooms running, so I spent the remainder of Friday and Saturday frantically trying to stay on top of that. (with much success, I might add- by Saturday afternoon I had four out of five rooms up and running for the remainder of the night; the fifth I gave up on due to equipment issues)

ANYWAY, signage. First problem: blocked hallways. Originally the Sogen staff was trying to keep pretty much everything to the second floor of the buildings, however some construction cropped up and blocked a key corner of the halls and so con-goers were forced to go downstairs. Unfortunately, signs were mostly put up only on the second floor, which leads into the text problem: when printing the signs they got printed with the arrows all pointing the same way. Some of us started finding creative ways to 'fix' this (typically by tearing off the arrow and flipping it around), by the point the signs were actually getting put up it was so late Thursday night people were getting tired and missing things. I'd guess that's something they'll look at for next year.

As for the maps, they made perfect sense to me, but I can get around *anywhere* with a scale map, so I'm not the best person to judge that.

Attendance, when I asked before the con I heard the estimate of pre-reg of being "around 200" or "almost 200". I once heard someone say "170" for pre-reg, but I can't say whether that's exactly right. For Friday's at the door registration I heard one person give a number of 50, and there were obviously more on Saturday. Final count was somewhere around 300 as best as I can tell, I might be able to find out an exact number whenever my friend gets back from their post-con meeting and gets online again.

If you guys don't mind, I'll be linking this and any other con reports I find to my friend so she can share with the rest of the Sogen staff, I'm sure they'd like the feedback.
May. 25th, 2005 04:27 pm (UTC)
Thanks for giving us a look from the inside. I have to admire SogenCon's gumption in putting together enough programming and guests for a convention the size of AD, but on the other hand it looks to me like they didn't do the sensible thing and back off some of those plans when it became apparent that they weren't going to get more than 3-500 people. I know, it's hard to do that with guests, but it would definitely have made things easier on all concerned.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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