wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Valleycon: The post-mortem

I want to preface my comments by saying that I had a good time, despite being broke all weekend. I saw a lot of people from the Twin Cities who had come up for the convention but didn't see any of the AD staffers who go to school up in the Fargo/Moorhead/Grand Forks area, so that was a little disappointing.

Detailed comments follow.

As I said in the earlier post, Valleycon appears to be mainly a media and gaming con, with a lot more space devoted to RPGs and tabletop games (to say nothing of LAN games, which occupied an entire suite across the hall from us) than any con I've been to lately with the possible exception of CONvergence. It didn't have a consuite per se; almost all of the room parties were located around the pool and served as a substitute for a con suite, although (extremely oddly) most of the parties charged for pop, booze and things like hot dogs & soup. Ron speculates that this may be because of all the gamers, who otherwise would descend upon the consuite like locusts, but since the concom was doing an excellent job of Not Being Seen, we couldn't really ask anyone to find out for sure.

We weren't located in the poolside area, and that turned out to be a Good Thing. Our room was in the northeast corner of the hotel, well away from the smoke and humidity (did I mention that there seemed to be a humungous number of smokers?) and with a lot more space than any of the poolside rooms, which appeared to be all rather normal verging on tiny. Our suite had a queen-sized bed (mine - RHIP! ^^) two couches, one of which was a foldout bed of miserable quality, a table, six chairs, and the usual room accoutrements. Shower/bath and toilet were in a separate space from the sinks and "closet" area, which made the room even bigger. Yay!

Anyway, we arrived around 8 PM after stopping for fuel and dinner at Nelson Brothers in the Clearwater Travel Plaza (I-94 and MN 24) which was every bit as outstanding as I remember it being four years ago, and at the Tourist Info point in Fargo since I hadn't printed out directions to the hotel. We found it quickly, unloaded all the stuff, set up the room party kit, tested it by watching the first episode of Saikano, and then I wandered around the convention for a couple of hours, talking to various acquaintances and catching the last half hour of Shaun of the Dead, which somebody had apparently bootlegged onto disc. It's not playing in Fargo, and nobody expects it to. Crashed around 1-2 AM.

Saturday we had to get Scott to a Western Union, which we did after blundering around for a while, and then get ourselves to Kinko's to make copies of registration flyers and to CashWay for a few bottles of pop. This we then did, and then went back to the room. I ran around posting the room party ads at various places around the hotel, hungout with Dreamstitcher and her husband in their poolside room for a while, then went back to the room and watched the rest of Saikano, before grabbing a hurried dinner in the hotel restaurant at 5 PM before kicking off the room party. That went fairly well - the room was never packed, but we usually had anywhere from two to ten people in there watching the AMVs, eating pocky and jellied snackage, and having a good time. The Sifl & Olly Ninja Final Exam a la Naruto was particularly well-received.

We closed down around 1 AM, and I went out to find a Zar game, which kept me up for the next couple of hours until I decided to call it a night. Slept in until 11 on Sunday, thus wound up having the lunch buffet instead of the breakfast buffet. Breakfast buffet was better. Hung out in the room, started packing at 3, and were on the road by 5:30 after stopping at the Chinese joint across the street from the hotel, which turned out not to be a buffet. :(

Overall, I'd have to give the convention experience as a whole a C. Points off for the lack of consuite and for pay-as-you-go hospitality suites, as well as the invisible concom, offset by the large and varied dealer's room and art show. The hotel was great (and not just because they found the DVDs) and the restaurant outstanding in its class, every bit as good as the bistro at the Marriott, if a tad pricey. The extra charges for things that normally would have been included with membership were also annoying, but I realize that this is typical of the mediacon breed.

Next year I think we'll make earlier arrangements and coordinate with the anime people there (there was anime programming in a couple rooms by the pool, but our setup was better) as well as get a mention in the program book, which might have helped draw more people to our room, which was off the beaten path. I think it would also be good to take the whole day off on Friday so we could get up there and have two full nights of room party goodness. It also would have been nice to see more of our people up there (especially since they're in school up there) but I understand that there may have been extenuating circumstances.
Tags: the bush of fandom
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