Springfest 2013 – There are Better Ways to Spend Twenty-Five Bucks

There has always been a hesitation in the convention scene about college conventions.  At times it can be a great success, and other times not so much.  This is the latter.  As much as the con and the staffers tried (or the lack of trying), it just did not work out as planned.  This is my third Springfest and each time I have gone, it just didn’t feel right.  So let me tell you my adventures.

Well some of the problems began before the con itself.  Let’s begin with press.  I sent in the application as per usual to have my staff cover this shindig.  I get a response of “Thank you, but you weren’t chosen.”  I get this from time to time and I sent a reply asking why, that way when we apply next year, we will have the information that they require.  I know that convention press heads are more than happy to help you with that, unless you’re Anime Boston.  But the request I got was similar to AB.  And by similar, it was a run around of reasons and excuses why we weren’t picked.  For the record, there were many other blogs and websites pissed on our behalf that we weren’t picked.  But I did find out later that con weekend that there was not a list of approved press outlets and simply showing up with a business card got you in for free.

So I after I licked that wound, I go and reserve a ticket.  A few days later, I get a call asking to help judge their masquerade and I would get a badge to help them.  Sure no problem.  Friday before the con, things begin to fall apart.  Evidently, they forgot to add Uncle Yo to the schedule.  He is hosting the masquerade, as well as having a stand-up comedy show, even though he’s advertised on their website to make an appearance.

Let’s move on shall we?

Saturday I get there and they have no idea who I am and what I’m doing.  After about twenty minutes of waiting around and talking to con goers, I make my way in.  As I was talking to people on the registration line, I was told that there was up to a 45 minute wait.  Understandable.  But when I got to the registration table to pick up my badge, you had four people there working and about five more standing around not doing anything.  Insert big sigh here.  Upon meeting up with Dokudel and Mike, our staff liaison, we go to setup the cosplay table.  As this was a very last minute addition to the schedule, Mike was with us every step of the way, helping us get anything that we needed.

Once setup, I went around began taking pictures of cosplayers and events.  Usually, Springfest is on floors 1, 4, 5, or any combination of floors that would require an elevator.  This time all events were on floors 1, 2, and 4.  This makes it easier if anyone wants to either walk or take the elevator, because think about it… Are you going to walk seven flights of stairs to get to the game room?  I didn’t think so.  Now when I got to the fourth floor, there was a paper sign, written with a pen, the directions of panel rooms.  You’d think that a college convention would have access to a printing department.

As you can see, the printing department for the con got shafted on funding.

Looking at the schedule, I noticed that there was at least 30 minute break between panels, which is good.  You need to give time for people to clear out, clean up, and setup for the next panel.  Upon reading the schedule, there was six hentai panels (and one yaoi panel).  I know that anime cons have one or two for each night, but six?!  That’s way too much.  The reason for so many, is because they’re that popular.  I understand the popularity, but in all seriousness, six is four too many.

1 Yaoi panel, 2 hentai panels, 2 hentai dubbing panels, and a "I Can't Believe it's Not Hentai" panel.

1 Yaoi panel, 2 hentai panels, 2 hentai dubbing panels, and a “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Hentai” panel.

So after my first shoot, I run into Keiko Hiratashi, one of the panelists.  It seems that her panel was pushed back by an hour, and attendees were not aware of it.  Also, there was no signage to tell people of the change.

Speaking of signage, there was virtually none.  There were white sheets of paper written in ink, what direction to go in for panels and events.  Down in the cafeteria where at least half the attendees were, a giant cardboard sign was posted for bag check.  On my way to the auditorium I run into one of the staff heads.  She asks me what I thought of Springfest.  Long story short, we are going to talk and discuss things later that can make a big improvement over the con (hopefully).

As you can plainly see yet again, the budget for signage is nil.

Let’s talk masquerade.  Truth is that masquerades will put butts in seats.  So this year Springfest did one.  As Dokudel was doing craftsmanship judging, a staffer rolls in and moves everyone to the second floor to some back area classroom.  Going up there with lights half on and whatnot, made me think that I was in a FPS.  And because of all of this, the masquerade was pushed back about 45 minutes.

But then we get the show on the road and it went pretty well.  No masquerade is perfect, including the halftime show, which consisted of Elderberry, Mei Hoshi, and a small child on the stage.  Now, as we were judging, Dokudel comes up to us and tells us that the staff wants us to hurry up with the judging so that they can clear out the auditorium for another event.  There are some things you don’t do, and rushing judges to pick cosplay winners is one of them.

So after that, I went off, did a couple more photoshoots and went to the cafeteria.  By now, people were calling Springfest, Cafeteria-con because that’s where EVERYONE was… Unless you were in the game room.  Upon arriving, people were up in arms about the coat check.  Evidently, it was closing up two hours before the rave/dance.  After enough people raised hell, they decided to keep it open.  After that debacle, I left, got food, and came back to the “rave”.  It felt more like half-assed high school dance.  I did dance a little, but I found myself mostly leaving to chat with other friends before I grabbed my things and left.

And then Sunday rolled around.

I proceed to registration to request a five dollar refund.  The person I spoke to, was the con chair and press head (or so I’m told).  He tells me that there are no refunds whatsoever.  And I try to explain this to him, he continues to get belligerent with me.  Now, you tell me if this makes sense to you… If I preorder a badge for your con, but I’m given a free badge to help run one of your events, shouldn’t I just get a refund on the badge I preordered?

Speaking of badges…

When you get a con badge, it will say on there if it’s an attendee, staff, guest, press badge.  They were multicolored and pretty much no one could tell what type of badge it was.  Also, because these badges were printed out on simple cardstock from a color laser printer, people went out and made photocopies.  Looking at mine, it could pass for a bootleg.

As you can see, they went all out on badges.

Eventually I did get a refund, thanks to our cosplay liaison, Mike.  Back to Cafeteria-con, I noticed that the cardboard coat check sign had another one above it, for lost and found.

I finished up the last of my photoshoots and headed over to Keiko’s 18+ cosplay dating game.  The dating game was hilarious! Even I participated! I was looking for love, but ended up doing it for fun.

And back to Cafeteria-con.  This is where all the cool kids are.

Pro: It’s a small con where a lot of the locals from the NYC are will come out and play.

Con: If you don’t live in the five boroughs and/or there another con coming up, save your money.

Overall: I have gone to Springfest a few times before and it simply feels like nothing changes, as if the staff doesn’t care because people will show up regardless.  Friends do make the con, but if you’re spending the majority of the con in the cafeteria, then you may want to rethink your options.  I’ll go back next year because I have a soft spot for college cons, and for some odd reason, I think they have a chance to pull it together.

DJ Ranma S

DJ Ranma S is cosplay veteran. He has won numerous performance awards with his friends over the years. He has staffed conventions in the past, ran panels, judged a couple of masquerades, a jack of all trades. He's worked dealer's room too! Running this site is his way of giving back to the cosplay community. He feels that it's his turn to give a future cosplayer their fifteen minutes of fame.

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