Welcome to AwesomeCon!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

AwesomeCon is DC's only generally geeky conference (that I'm aware of) and this year things were a bit of a whirlwind, for both good and bad reasons. 

Even though this is only the 2nd year of this convention, organizers were predicting 30-40,000 people to attend, a significant step up from the 7,000 last year. I think part of that prediction was due to the pretty fantastic actors they had headlining the event (Billie Piper, Cary Elwes, Sean Astin, etc,) and from the looks of the massive line outside the convention center Saturday morning, I think they were pretty spot on. Unfortunately it didn't seem like predicting that number actually did a whole lot for how the crowds were handled.

I picked up my badge Friday afternoon, but when I arrived on Saturday the (badly managed) line was wrapped multiple times around the building - full of people who had prepared but needed to pick up their badges. Now I understand that lines are a way of life at cons, but there were ribboned lines inside the building standing empty. Hundreds of those people could have been shuffling in a significantly more controlled fashion in an area that had already been cordoned off for that purpose. I can only imagine the staffing issues that I guess maybe contributed to that problem but it was super sad to see all those people standing outside, super confused, when if they had just been moved to the set aside area inside it could have been much easier.


The panels themselves were hit or miss. The ones with good moderators staffed by experienced actors or speakers were great, but others ended up being titled incorrectly and/or dry for audience members. I think this will improve in time as organizers are able to be a bit more discerning about who they chose to man panels, but for goers like me who are used to the professional DragonCon standards, I can't say they were completely top notch.

Despite all that 'eh' stuff I don't write any of it to honestly deter you from going. It's not that expensive as far as conventions go, especially if you live in the area, and the merchandise room and celebrities available for autographs is much improved. Ultimately I think you should pick your battles. Check the schedule, decide if multiple day or singular day passes would be better. I almost regretted my 2-day pass until some awesome things happened (a great panel, meeting Nicholas Brendan AND Kevin Sorbo) but I'm still glad I went. People were happy to be there, a lot of them in costume, and the general tone was jovial. It was fun! Just no perfect - not that we should expect life to be perfect all that often (or ever, lol).

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