Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Best Westercon Evar?

Headline figures from Westercon 66, as announced by co-chairman Kevin Roche at Closing Ceremonies: 767 warm bodies (badges picked up) and 883 total members.

The final day of Westercon 66 for us started late as it ended late, with us sleeping nearly until Noon. I thus missed a panel I wanted to attend about the Hugo Awards, but I'm grateful for the extra rest. We made a final pass through the dealers room (and spent more money there) before attending the Closing Ceremonies in the Atrium, where Kevin Roche and Andy Trembley gave a final thank you to the Guests of Honor and everyone else who made it a great Westercon, including all of the attendees. I sort of wormed my way into the act when I asked to speak (and Kevin let me) and said, "As the person who presided over the Westercon Business Meeting two years ago that selected you to hold this convention, I think I speak for everyone here by saying 'Thank you for holding the best damn hoax convention ever!'"

With the Closing Ceremony done, there was a short break before the feedback session. I got the idea (and Kevin & Andy agreed with it) that we record it, so Lisa and I bopped up to the room and got the camera, and she got it set up to record. The reason for recording was to make it easier for the next two Westercons to reference what people had said about the convention. The chairs of the next two Westercons, Dave Doering and Ron Oakes, were also on stage. I volunteered to run the portable microphone around so everyone else could be heard. At least one person insisted that she didn't need a microphone, but she, like everyone else who says that, was wrong.

It was overall a very mildly critical and mostly very praise-filled feedback session. We had to record it in three segments on account of the recording length restrictions in the camera, so I'm going to wait until we get home and I can edit it before I upload it, on account of it doesn't seem to have exactly the urgency of the other material I rushed to upload earlier this weekend.

I have finally manged to get most of the rest of my photos uploaded to my Westercon 66 Photo Set on Flickr. For some reason, the Flickr Uploader kept choking on them. I hope in the next few days to be able to write longer entries around some of the photos. For now, please feel free to browse.

After the Feedback Session, Lisa and I had to get some lunch, as all we'd had to eat were a couple of food bars. By the time we were finished, other volunteers had managed to get the truck loaded, and not long thereafter, the Dead Dog Party started upstairs. We went up there and spent the rest of the evening and had a wonderful time. So wonderful that I lost track of the time. At 12:30 AM, I pointed out to Lisa that we hadn't yet started moving things to the van as we had planned. We said our goodbyes, went downstairs, collected a cart, and moved two of the four cart-loads of stuff we moved in back out to the van. We enjoyed the lovely delta breezes that have broken the heat wave.

Monday we're up early again, because I need to be in Yuba City by around 10 AM. I don't expect to be able to write much more until we get home to Fernley, which we will do after I visit with my sister and mother in the morning and then drive home via Grass Valley and Nevada City. And once again we find ourselves up after 2 AM.

This really must be one of the best Westercons I've ever attended. Not the largest by any means, but in terms of how much I enjoyed myself, and how much I think most of the attendees enjoyed themselves, it was fantastic. And that's particularly important inasmuch as Westercon has been in something of a decline for more than a decade, with many of the conventions feeling flat and full of people waiting for the event to die. A big part of making this Westercon better was finding a facility that was the right size for the convention, rather than something better suited for the 2000-member Westercons of the late 1980s/early 1990s. The Sacramento Hilton was the last home of Sacramento's Eclecticon (about 500 members, last held 1991), and was good for this event. There wasn't really enough function space to do what everyone wanted and it's not a perfect building, but it did lead to an increased sense of energy and community.

Kevin & Andy were able to put together a team of people who attracted a happier, generally more energetic crowd and showed that there still is a place for Westercon in Western North American SF fandom. I hope the next two Westercons in Salt Lake City and San Diego can build on that vibe and improve upon it.
Tags: westercon
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