Convention Plateau

I was recently made aware of a conversation on Cosplay in America‘s Facebook Page, about how convention attendees tend to hit a plateau of attendance and stop going.

I believe there is a cycle of con-going. At first there’s the joy of discovering cons and it becomes like a drug – you want more. More cons, more cosplay, more trips. At some point you reach a plateau where because of con fatigue, drama or other reasons, you take a moment to take a breath and step back. After a period of time, you either come back into the convention scene or you leave it. The duration of this cycle really depends but my guess is 4-5 year.

I am curious to hear from y’all out there about your experience with this. Did you find yourself burning out, how did you counter it, or did you leave the con scene, how is it now ?

So this is my take on that. My first convention was in 1981, yes I’m old. I attended a small one day event at the University of Victoria’s Student Union Building for science fiction fans. I remember that it was just like a really cool club meeting, with more to do. My mother was a member of a local Star Trek Club and even though I was thirteen at the time I was allowed to attend the occasional meeting. By 1985 I had attended four more of these small Sci-Fi conventions, none with an attendance over 100 people. Until we went to a Creation Con in Vancouver that Gene Roddenberry was at. It was huge and very impersonal. I’ve never gone to a big commercial convention since.

Betty Bigelow and friend at I-Con 2

In 1985 the director of the Victoria Big Brothers Association decided to put on The Victoria International Cartoon Festival, my friends and I were all into Comic Books and Cartoons and one was even looking at creating stop motion films. We wanted to attend but couldn’t afford the tickets so we volunteered. I enjoyed it so much I asked the Chair what I could do to help for next year. I ended up as The Assistant to the Chair and did all my work prior to the 1986 convention. At that convention I met Todd McFarlane, Sergio Aragones, and tons of others in the industry.

From 1986 I was involved in organizing many Comic Book conventions with Island Fantasy, Canada’s (if not the world’s) first comic-book store. I worked at the store from 1987 to 1989, but kept running two or three events per year. We brought in guests like Art Adams, Todd McFarlane, Mike Grell, Ken Steacy and Paul Chadwick. The last Island Fantasy Convention that I did was in 1993.

Along the way I attended V-Con 17-22 in Vancouver, DreamCon 3-5 in Everett, Washington and Norwescon 10-15 in Tacoma. I also worked as a staff member of I-Con 1 and 2 here in VIctoria. My highlight was when I got to pick-up Nichelle Nichols from the airport. I will say this was my hey day in attending cons. I stopped going to conventions in the USA because of an incident at the border that left a bad taste in the mouth of  my wife and I. I stopped going to Cons in Vancouver because of costs, hotels, farries, food, it all got to be too much.

The thing is, this wasn’t a plateau, it was only a pause. I still wanted to go to cons and tried unsuccessfully to organize one in 1995. I didn’t do anything for about seven years, until The Victoria Comic-Book / Science-Fiction and Fantasy Convention took place at the Victoria Conference Centre in 2001. I attended as a Field Producer for CHUM TV and had a great time and met some great people like Chase Masterson and Richard Hatch, but then nothing else was in the area for another few years or so.

While managing a store I found out about an anime convention at the university, Kei-Kon, that my staff were attending. I went to the last Kei-Kon in 2009 and volunteered for the replacement convention, Tsukino-Con in 2010. I’ve been a member of the staff since and have enjoyed all eight years. This year I just finished putting the program book together and sending it and the badges off to the printer.

That is how I have spent 36 years attending fan cons.

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