The largest and probably most famous Twin Cities con Convergence was back for 2021! Convergence is a con for all things Sci-fi, fantasy, and geek. Normally, it takes place on 4th of July weekend but 2021 and 2022 it is being held in August. It is a 4 day convention starting Thursday afternoon and going until Sunday afternoon. They only sell a badge to cover all of the con, so there are no single day passes. It is held at the Hyatt Regency in Downtown Minneapolis. The convention is run by a non-profit and most of the work of running it is done by volunteers.
This year, all attendees had to show proof of Covid vaccination to pick up a badge (yay!) but unfortunately children under 12 could not attend. This meant the Wee Dictator had to endure a weekend of grandparents spoiling. There was also a mask mandate, and it was exciting to see how so many cosplayers made a mask a part of their costume. There are plenty of hotels within a few blocks. To get the Con rate at the Hyatt you had to stay all three nights, and we only stayed 2 to get back to the Wee Dictator, so we stayed at a cheaper place. The irony was when we got there they said there were plenty of rooms left in the hotel.
This was my first time attending, and all the regulars who I talked to said it was very different. Even the scaled down version due to Covid was huge, and pretty much around the clock. Panels went until 11 PM each night. While the dealer room and art show closed early in the evening, party rooms stayed open until the morning.
A Wide Array of Panels
Like most cons, I had to choose amongst many fabulous panels. I have no Cosplaying experience and unfortunately missed the Cosplaying 101 panel but did make the Cosplaying on a budget panel which gave me some ideas. There was a panel on Black Vampire—an 1819 Gothic novel which features exactly what the title says. I had a vampire obsession stage at 13, and seriously, how had I never heard of this American vampire novel written before Dracula?
I was shocked at how many writing panels there were. For writers, I attended panels on technology and worldbuilding, clothes that show character, queer fiction (unfortunately I could not write fast enough to get all the titles down) and avoiding cultural appropriation in Sci-Fi. Being that I haven’t been to an in person writer event since the Before Times, I was eager for talking to writer’s time. I picked up a stack of books and graphic novels which only the Gods know how long it will take me to read. (Yes, if they are good I will be posting reviews.)
Save Up for Some Shopping
The dealer room to my shock had Shauna Aura Knight vending, although KMK designs did not attend this year (phooey). There were some empty tables that I wasn’t sure if they were due to social distancing or people cancelling. I would recommend at least scoping out the dealer room early to see if there are any must have items. I bought the last Baby Yoda vaccine card holder on Thursday (partially because I knew if I came back later to buy it, it would most likely be gone.) The first couple of rows were artist’s alley, which focused on artist vendors. Other vendors included Scoundrelle’s Keep, where I bought a fox pocket, cool geek t-shirts, steampunk jewelry, and plenty of anime memorabilia.
The art show has items that are auctioned Saturday. However, starting Friday there was a quick buy option—if there were no bids on an item, you could pay a flat price to buy it right away. Unfortunately for my pocketbook, it contained one of my vices—decorated journals. I also bought a lovely gothic chokers. Not all the artists had business cards, which was a shame because there were several I wanted to check out their other work. A small table had art for straight sale.
Plenty of Fun Activities
For the geek wanting game time there was a board game room where He who Toils Endlessly resided. (We went our separate ways and only met up at dinner.) Movies played around the clock, although there was so much other stuff to do I’ll admit that didn’t interest me. Wordslinger’s Way had spoken word performances, storytelling, and plays, and a book swap was on the top floor. There was also a craft room.
Even Scaled Down, Convergence was Awesome
The attendance was 1/3 of the normal attendance, but I personally enjoyed it being not horribly crowded. There was a definite uptick in people on Saturday as compared to Thursday and Friday, a general trend that I suspect would remain true in normal year. The Thursday Friday panels it was easy to find a chair, but on Saturday if you didn’t get there early it was harder to find a seat.
Party Like a Geek
I will shamelessly admit once I figured out the party rooms had snacks I went there instead of the highway robbery snack seller at the hotel. (My caffeine addiction unfortunately required me to fork over $4 for a bottle of pop, before I found out the Unbirthday party room had iced tea. Grr.) The Consuite had awesome snacks. For an actual meal, it was best to leave the hotel to go to one of the local restaurants. The hotel bar had good drinks, but little food and what they did have was overpriced. The party rooms open earlier had a more relaxed vibe, and would be a good place to go to if you simply want to chill for a bit. Later as alcohol made its way things got a lot more loud and raucous. Unless you stayed in the writer’s room, which had a pleasant conversation about what is speculative fiction.
With so much to do, anyone can create their own weekend. We are planning to attend next year and hopefully the wee dictator will be able to attend at least part of it. Maybe I might actually put a Cosplay together. We shall see.