MTAC and ConGlomeration were excellent back-to-back weekends. While MTAC was in Nashville, TN, ConGlomeration was held April 13-15 in Louisville, KY. You’ve already heard what I thought about MTAC, and ConGlom was a stark contrast. The average attendees’ age was probably twice what it was at MTAC and it definitely made for a different experience. The parties, for instance, were much cooler. Friday night I attended the Xerps party and got to try what they call “skippy,” a concoction of Keystone Light and who knows what else that’s sure to make your evening turn out either really well or really badly. Regardless of the manner of your night, you’re unlikely to remember much of the experience. Unfortunately for us, Friday evenings’ parties got shut down pretty early due to noise. We hit the hay in preparation for the following night.
We spent the majority of Saturday evening at Barfleet’s party. They’re a pretty awesome organization which uses Starfleet’s organizational structure in an effort to throw awesome convention parties around the Midwest. I must say they accomplished their mission at ConGlom! They served four different colors of punch (I went to bed with an entirely blue mouth…) and kept the music going to late into the night. Because of a friend’s connection to the group we were allowed to stay for the after party. It’s a good thing, too, because I wasn’t ready to go to sleep! We also stopped by a Ghostbuster themed party, which didn’t have as many people, but definitely provided some fantastic drink options. While I didn’t try a sample of each (though that was actually on the poster-sized menu), I had something made with root beer and cinnamon whiskey, which changed my life. A.MA.ZING.
As I expected, the Masquerade was the prime event of the weekend. For such a small convention, there were some surprisingly excellent costumes! Three members of my cosplay group, TL;DR Cosplay, actually won Best in Show! Dorian, Courtney, and Cy dressed as characters from the most recent Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Other winners included Arwen from The Lord of the Rings and Codex from The Guild. After the costumes had been presented, the judges began to rate each costume. Meanwhile, Mystic Hips Belly Dance performed for the audience. I especially enjoyed their use of comedy and geek items, including severed heads, a bottle of rum, and a bat’leth. One woman even performed with a live snake!
I found only a few negatives to this convention, the most prominent of which was its people-to-space ratio. The Louisville Ramada Plaza Hotel and Conference Center was far too large for the number of attendees. We had to walk almost the full length of the hotel just to get to the conference center and panel rooms, usually passing attendees of the two other conferences being held at the same time. The hotel has a very strange layout and made our first hours there pretty confusing. I wasn’t a big fan of the location, but the convention staff were great. Apparently physically obtaining a media badge is just always going to be a hiccup in my convention weekends, because the folks at the registration table looked at me like I was from Mars, just like the volunteers at MTAC did. They called the woman in charge of registration though, and she knew exactly who I was from our e-mail correspondence. She gave some instructions and I was soon given my badge, which ended up saying “program participant,” rather than “press.” Despite all that, they had great attitudes and were happy to help with anything we needed the rest of the weekend.
While ConGlom featured a wide range of panels, some of the things I found most interesting were ongoing. First of all, the game room was really great. It was probably better attended than anything else at ConGlom and hosted every analog game I could think of. There was also a surprising number of young children at the convention, due in part, I’m sure, to KidCon, a room completely dedicated to entertaining ConGlom’s youngest guests. It featured everything from visits by the convention’s guests of honor, to storytelling games, to crafts. I think more conventions should feature not only child-friendly programming, but child-intended programming, and I applaud ConGlom for rising to the challenge.
This convention also featured a fantastic dealer room. There were all sorts of items I’d never seen before, and a wide variety of fandoms represented. In the middle of the room was ConGlom’s art show and silent auction, which had some lovely pieces. I almost caved and bought a TARDIS light switch cover, but decided my TARDIS dress, phone cover, and tattoo were probably enough. I was surprised, though, by the level of craftsmanship and talent present at such a small convention. Were I a collector, I would have been delighted.
All around, ConGlom was a great small convention. It had awesome parties, cool people, quality costumes, and beautiful art. I’d definitely recommend it as a low key geek-away-from-home.