This weekend, kitanzi and I drove up to Chatanooga for Galacticon.
I had been to the first couple of Galacticons, and the last few Magic Carpet Cons before it, and it had always been a nice low-key little literary based con with a good filk presence, and I had no reason to think it’d be any difference. Boy, was I wrong.
A few years ago, a chapter of the Klingon Assault Group decided to make Galacticon their annual spring break event, and the con played that up. It was a cute little bit of colour in an otherwise strongly lit-based convention, and the Klingons were largely well behaved fen who kept to themselves.
Unfortunately, over the last couple of years, it appears that they’ve gone from being a sideline attraction to the main attraction, and the primary activity at the convention seems to be getting drunk and partying. Which is ok, for as far as it goes, but it’s not really how I enjoy myself. As a result, the convention itself was a bit of a bust.
The trip was still worthwhile, though. We got to spend a lot of time hanging out with catsittingstill and cflute, who were there as the filk guests, and quadrivium, who drove up from Alabama after I told her about the con a few weeks ago. Randy and Diane Walker were also there, and I hadn’t seen them since they were Toastmasters at Gafilk a couple of years ago, so that was fun. We had a really good circle on Saturday night, and I picked up some CDs from Southern Fried Filk, who was there as a filk dealer.
On Saturday night, the entire filk presence at the con went out for Indian food, which I’d never really had much of before, so that was a fun adventure (and thanks to cflute for her menu advice!)
We had originally planned on doing a bit of Chattanooga sight-seeing, since kitanzi has never seen the Tennessee Aquarium, and neither of us has ever done the whole Lookout Mountain/Rock City/Ruby Falls area. We had even thought to hook up with cflute and make a day of it, but by the time everyone was ready to go, I was realizing how badly my sleep dep was catching up with me, so we regretfully bowed out and headed home.
I can’t say that any weekend which includes filking with Echo’s Children and Mary and Randy and Diane is a loss. But it wasn’t nearly as much fun as the con had been in previous years, and according to Clara Miller, one of the concom, they are not planning on having a filk guest next year unless “the local filkers want to pay for it themselves”. Given that the con is essentially tell us that we’re not important to them, and the literary track has also been gutted, we probably won’t go back. It’s a bit of pity, but what can you do?
Save your money to attend OVFF every year instead! *hugs*
Oh, fear not, we will always be at OVFF. That’s our anniversary!
But still, this used to be a fun little con with a strong filk-friendly concom, and is nearly local — Chattanooga is only 2 hours from home. This is the con where I first got to meet Dr. Jane and Cindy McQuillen and Heather Alexander and
and had such a good time chatting with Andre Norton and Marion Zimmer Bradley, once upon a time. It’s sad to see it….fall so far.
I’m sorry the con was a bust for you, but glad you were still able to have a good weekend.
I’ve only been to Galacticon once (a couple years ago), as a filk guest. I was surprised at the near-total lack of interest in our performance; I had assumed that a con that wanted to import filk guests had a strong filk presence. There was a nice little circle Saturday night the year I went, but it was mostly as you described it. I don’t remember as much drinking, but the overwhelming (to me) smoke drove me out of some program areas after short bursts so that could explain it.
I do remember a long drumming session out in the courtyard, which was both fun and somehow incongruous with everything else that was going on.
I should stress that the convention chairs were very kind and friendly to us, accommodated my Shabbat issues easily, drove me to and from the airport, and even gave us hand-made gifts to take home. I had a bit of trouble finding enough food I could eat, but they tried. (Quasi-vegetarians just don’t belong in parts of the south, it appears. 🙂 ) In fact, I don’t think anyone treated me badly there; there was just a bit of a disconnect between what I expected and what actually happened. I didn’t have a bad time, but I’m not likely to make the trip again either.
The consuite is now smoke-free, there are vegetarian dishes at all the hot meals.
If we don’t hear feedback from people, we don’t know what they liked or disliked.
As I mentioned below, I won’t discuss board of director’s business on a public forum.
I will say that filkers, be they professional or amateur are as important as any of the Klingons.
I’d like to hear from you. Perhaps you can show me where publicity for our filk guests would likely encourage more attendance? More attendance means more $ for Guest of Honor.
One easy suggestion would be to make a clearer mention of filk on the webpage. I may be overlooking something, but other than seeing Echo’s Children mentioned as filk guests in the guests list, I don’t think I saw the word filk on the website at all. If I were someone coming to casually look that site over for an idea of what to expect from the con, I wouldn’t have imagined there was much of anything filkish to expect -- and that’s a pretty easy thing to fix, with no extra cost.
Just a thought.
I do want to stress that the convention folks treated me well when I was there. I wasn’t treated badly by anyone; I just had a bit of a disconnect between what I expected and what I saw (e.g. the modern-dance party was much more popular with the folks there than any filk programming was). And, of course, there have been a couple cons since then, so I’m not working from current data any more. I did try to provide feedback after the con that year, by the way. I’m glad to hear that there’s now a smoke-free con suite; I know I mentioned the smoke issue.
Forgive me if this is something you’re already doing; I’m not from down there and don’t know who all the key players are. If you want to build more of a filk presence, maybe the folks who run GAFilk could provide some useful advice? Do you advertise Galacticon at GAFilk, which is conveniently a couple months before Galacticon? Are there regional house filks where you could find more filkers who might be interested in the con? Just some ideas.
I’m sorry you didn’t have a good time because of the con.
In the staff’s defense, there was considerably more literary programming than last year. I also got the filking room open earlier on Saturday night than originally planned.
While I can’t discuss Board of Directors business on a public forum, perhaps we could talk more about it in email? There’s a link in my user info. I’ll bring your comments to the next meeting.