When: Memorial Day Weekend. May 23-26, 2008
Location: Hyatt Santa Clara. Easy to get to by Car. Not sure if there is any public transportation.
Cost: $45 for a single day ticket on Saturday. The price vary based on the day and time of day. In fact there was a $20 evening only ticket) It was cheaper to buy a ticket ahead of time as well as buy for more then one day.
Themes: Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention run by fans.
BayCon is one of the five largest regional annual science fiction and fantasy conventions in the United States, and has been held annually since 1982. While BayCon has an emphasis on writing and art, attendees can also find things like costuming, hard science, music, gaming and much more.
Parking: FREE! The parking was FREE! I figured that it would overpriced hotel parking, but nope, it was not.
Attendance: The last number I heard was 1300 people attending. A small convention compared to Wondercon or Fanimecon, but enough to have lots of energy. On average the adults were 35+, but there were family and kids too. I figure the tweens and teens would be at the Anime Fanimecon. This holiday weekend also had Kublicon, an RPG convention*.
Panels: I went to two panels that I enjoyed and seemed to have a good number of folks in attendance. The artist guest of honor talked about there techniques of digital paintings, but I was having a good time and missed the talk.
Staffing: No problems. Helpful and professional.
Layout: The Hyatt has to basic problems of any hotel, the space is broken up. But the convention staff provided good material and signage to find what you were looking for.
Artist Alley: Artist alley consisted of 4 folks at table in the hall way outside of the Art Show and the Dealers Room. The impression I got from the folks I knew at tables (more then half) that sales were slow and the folks where somewhat hidden by many who passed by on their way to other places. On the other side the Artist Alley tables were very reasonable prices: “A place in the Alley can be yours for only $20!”
Art Show: The art show was mostly professional work and featured photos, traditional and digital art, and lots of art prints. The top sellers seemed to be prints and ones that featured elaborate scenes. The guest artist has some beautiful digital paintings as prints that were amazing work. I would be intersted to get a panel next year. The price per-space was quite reasonable. $17.50 for each 4’x4′ panel.
Dealer Room: Costumes, clothing, toys, Jewelery, and Collectibles. Did not spend much time but there seemed to be nice stuff. Heavy on jewelry and costume/clothing.
Costumes: Yes! Lost of hall/masquerade costumes. The theme was Pirates and they were in full force. Steam Punk was also very big this year. I wish I had my pirate gear on since it sure looked like fun to dress up.
Food: Usual hotel priced food. But the hotel had both a special menu as well as a quick service. The restaurant was filled up, but food could be ordered in the lounge as well. The food was quite tasty and high quality which made the slightly higher prices a lot more palletable. The quick service was buffett style and looked quite tasty. The pre-made sandwiches for lunched looked fine. There was fast food near by, but possibly would require driving. I am not 100% sure.
Parties: The convention had a Party Floor which had sponsored rooms and lots of great food and drink (booze and non-booze) which was a great way to mingle and have fun. Many rooms had games and videos playing. One party offered mixes of different soda and syrups while we watched costumes on the BCTV. Another party was toga themed and one was a Turkish tea featured Turkish Coffee and Mint Tea, Turkish Delight and Baklava. So much tastyness in such a short amount of time.
Entertainment: There was Boffers – Like pillow fighting with pillows shaped like swords and other weapons. Kids Activities – including arts and crafts. Gaming – RPG, Board, Cards, Video, LARP as well as the Iron Game-Designer Challenge. Writing Workshops, Readings, Fanzine Lounge, Anime Room, masquerade
And then in the evening you add Live Music, Dancing (Swing, Regency, Rock), Filk Music, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Party Floor (see above), Concerts and a Charity Auction and Casino to name a few. Oh and the reading of the Eye of Argon (so wonderfully bad it has to be read to be believed).
This was one of the highlights of the day and part of what makes the $45 price so worth while if you stay till late….there is lots to do. You can dance, listen to music, then go get some drinks on the party floor. It’s also great to find the quite spots and get to know like minded fans. There were lots of folks roaming around
Verdict: I would go next year if I can swing it. I had a good time and would want to do a hall costume too. It’s definitely a convention that is great if you can stay at the hotel and really amerce yourself in the experience. It’s a lot mellower then let’s say San Diego Comic-Con which makes it more intimate. It’s good if you are a fan of Dr. Who, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Pirates, Lord of the RIng, RPG games, etc. this is the convention for you.
As an artist I would definitely want to put some art prints and originals in the art show, but I would have to think about if I wanted an Artist Alley table, though the price is very reasonable. I would not go to the dealers room since I feel my work would get lost in there. This is not a convention to get notice by a publisher or the media, but a great place to build your fan base.
*Note: I wanted to give a shutout to my friend Joe who is at Kublicon this weekend running an RPG game called…Deppthulhu. Yes it’s H.R.Lovecraft mythology where you play a John Depp character. Very cool Joe.