I've been hearing about this con for a while now. Ever since research started, the word on the street is that CONvergece in Minneapolis MN, (technically Bloomington, MN) is an amazing con to attend. I heard it's full of nightlife, room parties, and endless panels, all encapsulated in one Sheraton Hotel. So, with the help of some wonderful people, we were able to get in and get a table in the dealers room.
Simply put, CONvergence stands at the top of the mountain of medium sized cons and is poised to become the next big con on the circuit. First off, the whole thing is wonderfully organized. Some of the volunteers may disagree with me but from a outsider's view that's just coming in and from someone that has been to dozens of different cons now, this was high in the rankings of organization and presentation.
So basically it breaks down like this. Thursday we arrived, set up the table and sold books until 6:00. After a quick meal at Fridays (one of the few restaurants around) we were eager to hit up the famous CONvergence room parties. Let me tell you, even on a Thursday they did not disappoint. It's hard to describe. Picture a large open area, half of which is contains an indoor pool. Surrounding this open area were two stories of hotel rooms with open cabanas looking out onto the courtyard. Each room had a themed party. The Bearded Gnome Tavern, Vice City, Harry Potter, Mos Icee Cantina, Jews in Space, and Minicon to name a very few. My favorite and a favorite of the entire con was the room simply named TOAST. This is the house of toast where you can get (for free mind you... everything was free)toast with an array of odd and normal toppings from 8PM-11PM. Yes, there were things like smoked oysters, cumin, blue icing, sprinkles, nutella... well, take a look for yourself. These two pictures are the menu. The two I had the entire con were: Wheat Toast with Chili and Cheese Slices and Wheat Toast with Spagetti-O's and Parmesan. Hey! Don't make a choking noise, kep in mind those were VERY conservative choices compared to what I could have had. Here's half the menu for Thursday night (go on, click on it, I dare ya):
Here's 1/3 of the party area before any of the parties actually happened from a bird's eye view:
I participated in a panel at 11:30 at night called "The Seedy Side of Steampunk" with Clay Lamkin and Mariah Fryer which is odd for a panel time but hey, it IS the seedy side of steampunk... I'm not complaining. In fact it was a really great panel.
Friday we awoke and sold books from 10-6 and things were picking up. The sales were enough to get pretty excited about the rest of the weekend. Things looked promising and the weekend didn't disappoint. I was part of the "Steampunk on The Page" panel at 7:00 with Roy C. Booth, Michael Mirriam and Michael Levy which was a fun almost totally literary panel. That night we hit Friday's (yes again) recouped for a few minutes in the hotel room and ran down to the room party extravaganza which, being Friday, had ramped up in intensity. The alcohol was flowing (need I remind you that all room party alcohol is free?) and people jammed the flyer covered hallways dressed in all types of fandom and insanity. We retired about 2AM and after being given extraordinarily strong drinks at some unknown party because we were from Tennessee, it was time for bed.
Saturday morning was a slow morning... not sales wise... mentally. With coffee in hand and the inspiration that Saturday was going to be even crazier, I perked up and soldiered to the vending hall. Yes Saturday kicked butt then had a panel on "The Popularity of Steampunk" which kicked even more butt with at least 200 people in attendance. That evening we ate at the hotel bar "Navigator" and kept close to the craziness that was brewing just down the hall. We literally sat feet away from Jeremy Bullock (The actor that played Boba Fett.) Yeah, that was pretty bad ass. The party floor was nuts. We witnessed a Jesus on Jesus on Jesus LARP fighting match. Guess what? Jesus won. We also had cherry Icees at Mos Icee Cantina and lots of local beer at the Minicon room party. This picture is one of my favorites as Hagrid's Monster book eats Thomas Riley. I actually missed this as I was in a panel but it still rules:
Sunday came and we broke the book sales record for any Con for the whole year. Shortly, we broke the entire record for sales for eny event. Imagine that... More books sold to 4500 people than at Printers Row in Chicago with 90,000 people... Minnesota Reads! I was part of the Steampunk Costuming panel which was totally amazing! The room was packed! So packed that it was standing room only and there were people behind the table! After being quite happy with ourselves, we had a celebratory drink (yes at Fridays again) and went out to Pizza Luce with some new friends, which was a really nice getaway for a few hours. (Oh and more local beer!)AND this is where I learned the Klingon word for SUCCESS! or Ka'pla! Upon returning to the con, which was winding down at this point, we decided to forgo any 4th of July fireworks and watch Sherlock Holmes at the in house theater at the con which was cool,especially since I never really watch movies.
My phone never seems to capture the enormity of anything but here's the best I can show you of the Costuming Panel:
By one something AM we hit they hay and had to be up for the brutal 4:15AM wake up call. We did it and we made it home without a hitch. (finally)I have to say CONvergence was unexpectedly perfect in every way. There was something for everyone and plenty of it. Panels up the ying yang, tons of vendors, authors, artists, fans, drinks, food, general craziness, gaming... oh I could go on forever. Point being it's a destination that I will not miss for as long as I write and I promise you this con will get even bigger every year.