Borough Con 2017: Too Much Too Soon?

This con Report fought me.  This is more of a what not to do to when hosting your first convention, because quite frankly, this convention failed miserably, and makes me wonder how they’re able to afford to do it again this coming year.  ~Mako-Chan

 

On Memorial Day weekend, some of the Anime Jam Session crew took the holiday to head to a new local college con.  Borough Con 2017 took play between Friday, May 26th and Monday, May 29th 2017, at St. John’s University, in Queens, NY.

Borough Con is a spinoff of the convention Knightrokon, which was held in Orlando, FL.  After the last event in 2014, the con, with no other notice, other than to say that it was the last con, closed its doors. A few years later, Borough Con started to be announced.  Right away the con sounded amazing, tons of amazing actors, voices, and guests.  However, the number they predicted for a first-year con, 20,000 warm bodies, was quite laughable to many.

And that is the first issue when getting to the convention.  After predicting 20,000 warm bodies, by Saturday afternoon, they ran out of badges.  Not due to the amount of people on the campus, but due to not printing enough.  The layout wasn’t bad, a few buildings all on the same walking path, straight up from the parking lot.  Unfortunately, there really wasn’t enough content to need that much space.  Perhaps the con toned down the layout after not getting the pre-con numbers they were looking at, but the con layout itself while more than was needed for amount of people that showed up for the con, it would have been nowhere near large enough for the predicted numbers.  The content of the con was also nowhere near enough for 2000, let alone 20,000 people.

The host school for the event was so out of the way, that while only 15 miles from the AJS main base, it still took almost an hour and a half to drive there, and mass transit wouldn’t have timed better due to how many change overs would have been needed to get into the area.

Of the two days, out of four that I went, content was very slim.  At most, besides gaming, there really were only 2 or 3 panels happening at each timed interval, and that’s if the panelists even showed up.  Of the two panels, I tried to attend on Saturday, one didn’t happen, and the other had a host that blamed her photog inadequacy on the cosplayers.  I was hearing similar stories about canceled panels throughout the day on Saturday.  Most of the time I sat in the small theater that was host to all the Q&A panels from the extensive list of guests.

The cosplay contest was kind of a joke.  What was in the schedule for a 2-hour block only took 30 minutes and ultimately became an impromptu photo shoot.

Sunday was little better.  I either walked the dealer hall or sat in the theater for the guest panels.   While the guests were amazing, voice talent the likes of Jess Harnell, Cree Summer, Steven Blum, and Mary McGlynn, and actors like Dante Basco, Sean Aston, and Chester Rushing, the only reason I was able to see these panels is basically because the con overshot its mark so much.  We left day three before 6pm and decided not even to go to day four.  Volunteers were even told not to bother coming in for day four. (And I use the term Volunteer lightly.  As far as I know and have heard, due to no housing for volunteers, the staff was actually paid instead of given other incentives such as free room and food during the con.)

While I had an amazing opportunity to speak with some of the guests, it never should have happened.  The reason I was able to do this is because there were just so few people even at the convention.  This con never should have been four days as a first-year con.  Heck, it probably should have only been two days.  It was also very intimidating and, well, odd, that the Featured Guest wasn’t someone more mainstream to attract attendees, but the Founder & CEO of NA3AM, one of the sponsors for the con itself.

By the end of Sunday, with one more day to go, panels (even guest panels) were being canceled, staffers being told to go home early or not come in for Monday at all, and the fact that a large portion of the artist (including cosplay) tables in the dealers hall were never used at all, I’m surprised this con did well enough to host a second event.  However, surprisingly they’ve already announced the dates for 2018 (Father’s Day weekend) With larger cons in the area the weeks before and after, many people may choose to skip the event this year once more, hoping to save up for the likes of Colossalcon or AnimeNext.

Here’s to hoping that the change in venue, time of year, and a year under their belts will help the convention do better this year, however the fact they’re still trying to push 3 days out of the event may show they’re still thinking too large.

 

Cons of the con – Just about everything you can think of. Location, dates, panels, content.

Pros of the con – Because of all the cons, I was able to chat with the guests one on one which never should have happened.

 

Mako-chan

Mako-chan isn’t just a writer and co-host… She’s also the resident baker and chef of all things yummy. Mako-chan has been working behind the scenes helping out where she can for the Podcast. Officially joining the team in November of 2011, first as a writer and editor, and later as an on air personality for the show, and now Assistant Editor, Mako-chan embraces the five main sureties in life that make a person great; Beauty, Intelligence, Talent, Creativity, and Honesty. ^_~

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