I went in to it with much excitement, as it was my first chance to promote the 2013 Geek Gala at an official con. I knew that it was a smaller con that was run by college students but they had moved to a new hotel and there was some potential excitement surrounding the event.
First off, the hotel room was great. The room was clean, the beds were comfortable, the furniture was great without being too cluttered. And we had a mini-fridge in the room which we thought was awesome (though we never actually used it.)
And the people we met were great. We got to see some old friends, meet some new ones, and in general have fun. But then again, we have fun pretty much anywhere we go.
Food was something better handled on Yelp. We ate at the hotel the first night – and it was $30 apiece worth of nothing special. We turned to Yelp instead, and had breakfast out both Saturday and Sunday morning. There I met the new man in my life: Moosey. Don’t judge – I like a horny guy.
The Dealer’s Room
They combined both the fan tables and the dealer tables in the same room, with lots of gaps and spaces in between. Traffic was low most of the time, so I can’t imagine the dealer’s made their money back at all in their investment. The empty tables were incredibly sparse – and it just made the event look very dead. It would have been better if they had only used 2/3 of the space and reorganized the space so that we had more movement in the aisles.
The Charlotte Geeks and ConCarolinas sat together which was great fun. We had on display a wonderful stage that was made by Lisa Rafferty Wade, one of our Geeks, to help showcase our Mikey Mason paper (in)action figure. We’ll have these paper dolls. . . I mean (in)action figures at all our con events – so make sure to stop by and grab your own.
And thanks to the technical assistance of Andy Fairbanks, we were able to get our video presentation up and running, so we were able to jam out to some great past Geeks Got Talent! Performances, like Nicole Reavis, our 2012 winner, signing to The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny. We also got to show off our 2012 Gala photo recap and 2013 promo, produced by Alan Lock, Jr. of A-Lock Pro.
Many fan tables & dealers around us packed up on Saturday night because it didn’t seem worth it to be there on Sunday. We packed up as well.
Programming seemed extremely disjointed. The “Main Programming” room was incredibly small. In addition, programming seemed extremely strange. Some blocks were only 30 minutes long, with huge gaps in between. Other programming seemed in conflict (The Auction overlapping the Prom and other panels). And the dealer’s room was open late on Friday – until 9. It should have closed at 7 so that more attendees could participate in the evening programming.
The sad thing for me was to see great groups like Mon Frere Sketch Comedy not get the attendance they deserved because there just wasn’t enough promotion of the event. These guys were incredibly funny and talented and should have had a packed out room. But they were stuck in the small main programming room in the corner and didn’t get proper attention.
Same thing with the Prom From Outer Space – I know that Lisa Ellisor put a lot of work in to the evening – but with the auction going on at the same time – there weren’t enough people to be a party – and it was too far away from the bar to keep the alcohol and good times rolling (Maybe it got better after we left – but it was pretty quiet when we stopped by).
If I were to attend StellarCon again, I would hope the following things would change:
- Better layout: I think the fan tables should have been better in the hallway to generate more energy. Or the Art show – give people something to look at in the hallways, rather than just wandering aimlessly. The Dealer’s room should be smaller and better laid out with improved traffic flow.
- Programming needs to be more structured, with appeal to a broader range of fandoms. No more 30 minute panels, no major gaps, and large draw events (auction, prom, musical performances) should not run against each other. Also, close the dealer’s room earlier to allow more people to attend.
- Programming and other items seemed to come out very last minute. It’s hard to drum up a strong crowd if they don’t know why they are attending an event. I think better pre-planning would have made for a better con.
Overall, I don’t think we will be there next year without some major changes. I’m glad we went though, and enjoyed seeing everyone!