The Art of the Con
The Art of the con or convention is a fine art, but thankfully for you fearless reader, we have on hand Elise VanCise, creator and coordinator of the Annual Astor Library Geek Fest, now in its fourth year! Elise is the young adult coordinator for the Astor County Library in sunny Astor, Florida.
First Things First!
J – For the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on what it takes to plan, host, conduct and maintain a successful con. But first, what exactly is a Geek Fest and why would a library want to have one?
VanCise – Geek Fest is the name we gave to our mini-comic con or convention. It’s a one-day con where we have cosplay, anything you geek is basically our theme – superheroes, science fiction, horror – anything you want! This year we have exhibitors that do everything from costume jewelry, steampunk, and even a rock ‘n’ roll band.
Plan. Host. Conduct. Maintain.
Plan – simple yet complicated; sorry!
Set a date! Research what is going on in your area, so you don’t overlap with other events.
VanCise – See if you have any local area groups or organizations that fit your criteria or theme. For example, we have the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), who are willing to come and bring all of their fighters, craftspeople and will show off what they do! They, too, use their own network to bring in even more people to our event.
Find your interest groups out there. Post ads in different groups such as through Facebook and other social media platforms. There are lists and websites where you can reach out to other groups, as well, to drum up excitement.
Big plus is that you are promoting local groups, but also bringing in people and attracting attention outside your area – they’ll bring in their own fan base!
Host – tips and tricks for public librarians!
VanCise – Biggest thing is your space. Utilize your space indoors and outdoors. Don’t be afraid to too little or too much. You can always make room! Shift your furniture and shift your mind set!
You can also partner with local groups, such as a community center or hotel with a meeting room that you can utilize for an off campus portion of your con.
Conduct – conducting the actual con
J – On the day of the con, what sort of things would a host need to ensure on that day?
VanCise – Biggest thing is to ensure that your exhibitors have plenty of set up time. For instance, the SCA takes 2-3 hours to set up. So, if your event starts at 9am, you’ll need someone on site at 6am to open the doors! If exhibitors are coming from out of town, they might want to store their items overnight. Thus, a two-day set up might be what happens!
Additionally! For your parking area, exhibitors are to be parked in a way that no exhibitors are not still unloading when your guests arrive. Thus, a half hour or hour before the event starts, exhibitors need to be parked in their designated exhibitor parking area.
J – So, the Astor Library Geek Fest has almost half a decade of conceptual continuity under its belt. How do they maintain it or than just doing it just because you do it every year, no matter what!
VanCise – Perseverance! We have several groups that return each year, which is a good foundation. Cosplayers, a robotics and engineering group, the SCA, they’ve been here since the start. These groups want to help the library out, and thus you need to maintain a positive working relationship with them. Your community wants to see their favorites come back, too!