There’s nothing quite as exciting as going to a convention for the first time. Unfamiliar city, getting lost in a convention center, figuring out where you’ll be getting your next meal that’s not weird convention hall food. Everything is new, shiny, and awaiting your exploration. So when I arrived at ConnectiCon this year, for the first time ever, I had strong hopes for the weekend. Were they met? Exceeded? Disappointed?
Be sure to read Elessar’s recap as well!
This was my first year at ConnectiCon though I had been hearing about it for years. As one of the East coast’s better known conventions, it attracts lots of different types of people: gamers, anime fans, celebrities of various degrees of fame, the occasional cosplay king and queen, but mostly just assorted fans from the Northeastern United States who want to frolic with people of their own geeky persuasion for a weekend, and for that purpose, this convention does well on multiple levels.
The guests who came to this convention were stunning. I got to meet Doug and Rob Walker, Lindsay Ellis, Todd, Nella, and Elisa Hansen from That Guy With The Glasses, both at their booths and their panels, who have all been huge inspirations to me. There were also Team Four Star (the hilarious people behind the Dragonball/Dragonball Z Abridged Series) and Marble Hornets (who work on the web series of the same name). There were also big industry names like Jennifer Hale, Noah Hathaway, Walter Emanuel Jones, Rikki Simons, Richard Horvitz, Janet Varney, Maurice LaMarche, and Rob Paulsen. They are a lot of fun, available for signings multiple times a day, and even photos. Many of them also held panels for those who could not afford to pay for autographs, which were both fun and informative for the most part.
What I really like about this convention is that they really give the attendees reign of the programming. That is to say people can apply to run panels and from what I’ve seen, they are typically very good ones, like the ones Elessar and ThatGuyInThe3rdRow put together this year, as well as several others. It’s clear that the convention organizers value their community and their input into what programs they want to see as well as want to participate in, and the few I did manage to stumble into were not only well crafted but also well attended, two things which are usually really difficult when the convention is small and/or not particularly well administrated (which was definitely not a problem here). The cosplay competition was a lot of fun as well, with lots of well practiced acts, stunning cosplays, and a fun framing narrative that also tied in the AMV contest. And everything went off without a hitch mind you, which is impressive in its own right.
I really got a good feel for the vibe of the convention, which was that of relaxed fun. People may have been sleep deprived and travel weary but they were happy and excited to be there, meeting up with friends and engaging in conversation with strangers with similar interests. Even the small gaming area (that really should have been bigger) brought a lot of people together and I even made a few new friends and contacts. There are lots of free spaces to convene while being out of the way of foot traffic, which is integral, and while the convention is too small to warrant an app to help with scheduling, I think in the future it could be beneficial.
Now comes the part where I have to talk about the bad stuff, and really, the bad stuff is very minor compared to the good. As a location, I think Hartford is pretty bad, but unavoidable. If you do plan to go to the convention, know that while you can walk around at night, it’s not safe to do so and unless you have a car, finding inexpensive food or toiletries may not be an option. There are lots of spots in town that are available via a free shuttle but they can’t always fit everyone at the stop and there’s no schedule as to what times they might be arriving. The convention food is pretty standard but I’m not sure if the food in the restaurants in the surrounding area is really any better, but it is more expensive.
Another complaint I had was that the dealer’s room was very small for a convention of this size, and those that were there didn’t have that many products to sell. I had the feeling that this was a convention in transition, with more people than they expected so that could account for the somewhat sparse dealer’s room, but this issue could easily be remedied. Again, in the big picture of things, these are minor.
My overall conclusion on the convention is that it is one of the best I have ever been to and I feel lucky to have gone. As far as the size, its growing state proves it has the pull to be bigger but where the convention is in terms of its hall is still a good fit. Personally, I would love to go again because this con gets what so many others don’t: the balance between administration and audience. It is that balance that gives ConnectiCon a unique vibe of open, relaxed fun that is so inviting to all guests. If you have the chance to go, I wouldn’t hesitate to book the bus, plane or train to get there (just start booking your hotel now).