First Worldcon?

What to Expect at the Con from the Perspective of a Con Novice

by Terri M., blogger at Second Run Reviews and MidAmeriCon Staff Member.

I attended my first science fiction convention in 2012. Why did I attend? One of my favorite authors, Jim C. Hines, was slated to be the toastmaster. I didn’t even know, before this point, that science fiction and fantasy conventions existed. I attended for a single day, went to a few panels and left before it got too late. I had fun, but I was mostly a wallflower. I was determined to make a go of attending for the entire weekend the following year.

I did return the following year and spent the entire weekend at the convention. I was amazed by the panels I went to and the people I met. I had no idea that I had missed so much by only attending for a single day and not staying until later in the evening.  I’ve attended my local volunteer-run science fiction convention every year now and I’ve also ventured around the Midwest to attend other conventions including MiniCon and ConQuest.

At most conventions, like MidAmericon II, there is something for everyone.

  • Panels and Programming. There are a wide range of panels and different type of programming that cover various different topics related to the science fiction and fantasy genres. There maybe panels discussing different fandoms, coffee klatches with authors and panels where the guests of honor reveal “super secret” details about their lives. Once the programming schedule is announced, start planning your days and make sure to leave time for food, sleeping and proper hygiene.
  • Art Show and Dealer’s Hall. Get all the goodies you can to declare your love for science fiction and fantasy. A variety of vendors will be on hand to help you find just the right thing for yourself or that special other person in your life. Visit often. You’re bound to find something new every time.
  • Parties. Food, folks and fun abound till the early hours of the morning. Parties are a great informal way to meet new people
  • Gaming. Into gaming? There will be plenty of games happening throughout the weekend. Expect to see games happening around the clock in a variety of locations. You are welcome to bring your favorite and seek out others to join you. Or seek out new games. You are bound to find more than a few people to join in on the adventure.
  • The City. Kansas City is home to the Chiefs, the World Series Winning Royals and some of the best BBQ. Don’t limit yourself to your hotel and the convention space. Get out and see the City a bit. There’s lots to do within walking distance of the Convention.

Do a bit of planning prior to your arrival–explore the City and what is has to offer, plan which programs you would like to attend, connect with MidAmeriCon II on Facebook and Twitter. It will help to calm your nerves if you are a Convention Novice like myself.

So now you know what a bit about what to keep an eye out for at a con, but what can you expect. That’s was probably the most nerve wracking thing for me when I attend my first convention. I knew no one, but the person I was going with. I was concerned I wouldn’t fit in and no one would like the same fandoms I did. Boy, was I wrong! Not only did I find people interested in the same things I was, but I discovered new fandoms.

Here’s what you can expect when you attend MidAmeriCon II.

  • Expect to meet new people. I’m a bit of an introvert, but I do own a few fanish shirts and jewelry (Doctor Who, Supernatural, Disney). I’ve found wearing my favorite shirt or jewelry can start a conversation with a perfect stranger that can last for hours. You don’t have to CosPlay to meet other fans.
  • Expect to get dry lips and be thirsty. I thought people were kidding, but hotels and convention centers are like deserts! I started carrying a water bottle around with me this year and tried to stash my lip balm in an easy to access location. Luckily there are lots of water fountains in the Kansas City Convention Center!
  • Expect information overload. As a creative person, I get so many great ideas while attending panels and other programming. I recommend carrying a small notebook around to write down ideas, names of books, movies and television shows people mention that sound interesting and to gather contact information of the cool people you meet..
  • Expect to spend money. There will be beautiful art at the Art Show, amazing collectibles in the Dealer’s Room plus the opportunity to donate money to charities via different auctions. While the Convention Planners and Dealers would love for you to spend all your money, they don’t want you to broke and they want you to come back next year. So be aware of your limits and think about setting a budget before the convention.
  • Expect your feet to hurt. So much walking…so much standing! Wear comfortable shoes. There’s nothing like a nasty blister to put a damper on the weekend.
  • Expect to be exhausted. The walking, the standing, the sleeping in a hotel bed will sap you of your life force. Make sure to take breaks when needed to sleep, shower and eat. Speaking of eating…
  • Expect to wonder when you’ll find the time to eat. There will be so much stellar programming happening you might forget to eat or wonder when you’ll find the time. It’s helpful to bring along snacks or stop by the ConSuite. This can help keep you going until you can find a break in your day to eat a substantial meal or two.
  • And finally…expect the unexpected. So much fun stuff happens at a convention just by attending you are a part of something special. Who knows what you’ll see and do in a few short days? The people, the events, the location all come together for this weekend to unite fans of the science fiction and fantasy world. It’s a unique opportunity for you to meet others who share your affection for these universes. The hope of every convention planning staff is that you’ll have a positive experience and you’ll spread the word about the convention because conventions like this cannot exist with your support.

The final step? Stay in touch with us. If you are not already following us on Facebook and Twitter, do it now. We post regular updates about the Convention. Spread the word to your friends. Talk about MidAmeriCon II and how excellent it will be. If you want to get involved, volunteer to help before, during or after the Convention. We are are a fan-run convention and we need your talents to make this a success event.

And finally, start counting the days. It will be August before you know it! See you in Kansas City!