StellarCon: One Geek’s Opinion

This weekend I attended my first ever StellarCon. It was held in Greensboro, NC.

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

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. 

And I had a killer handmade milkshake on Sunday morning that was awesome.  Hey – it’s fruit and milk – that’s breakfast food!

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

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).

Suggestions

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!

About Joey 108 Articles
Joey moved to Charlotte in 2008 and loves it here! She started the Charlotte Geeks after returning from Dragon*Con and whining "But I don't want to wait 360 days to hang out with my people again!!" Self-dubbed the GiddyGeeker, her geekdoms are Doctor Who, Marvel, Boardgaming, British TV (MisFits, Orphan Black, Sherlock, The IT Crowd, etc) and she is slightly addicted to FUNKO pops. Check here out here or listen to her on the Guardians of the Geekery podcast.

2 Comments

  1. This echos alot of my view of Stellarcon… Another point of constructive criticism… GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING WITH THE HOTEL. I don’t know if they did or not, but I’ll tell you from Late Saturday through Sunday, people where chased out of rooms early (schedule said we’d have till 3am, they kicked us out before MIDNIGHT) and pretty much closed out the entire Con by 3pm on Sunday (Again, per the schedule we had at least 2 more hours) I know the staff worked very hard, and I support them in their efforts, but I really think the hotel worked against them this year. I’m hope they’ll fight hard to make next year bigger and better. I felt sorry for a guy that came to my table Sunday morning and said he just payed for a Sunday only pass: There was almost no one in the gaming room, the dealer’s room was closed for take down before noon (when the con pretty much started at 10am on Sunday…) and the gaming room was closed at 2pm. I hope I made his day somewhat worth it (he played two long games of munchkin and went home with a selection of bookmarks!) Last Stellarcon I went to was 21… and it was fantastic compared to this (albeit that was 16 years ago so I won’t hold them to that bar) I even heard rumors from one of the people close to the staff that there wouldn’t even BE a Stellarcon next year. All I will say is, I know the staff tried, hopefully there where lessons learned and I’ll definitely give them a chance next year so long as there is one…

  2. Keeping in mind that StellarCon is a small con and will never be a ConCarolina, StellarCon keeps having issues that prevent them from being a great con. Upfront and honest I did not attend this year. In the past organization have made attending the con a bit painful. From not being ready to start more than an hour after start time, to a lack of focus put on activities for con goers to do (like panels), it shows that there needs to be a lot more planning. For a number of years I kept attending StellarCon because of promises that this year would be different. This year I decided not to go even with talk again that it would be different and at a new hotel. I know friends that went and listened to what they said upon return with an open mind in the hope that things have changed and I missed a good time. Alas they returned and went on about a lack of organization on things to do. In short they summed it up as a typical StellarCon.
    I hope that next year is different, but until I hear how great the time I missed was, I’m going to skip next year. Again.

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