PerSimmons: BYOCon

Bring Your Own Con(vention)





















BYOCon 7 - Tucker Tales

February 27, 28 & March 1, 2015

(Well this update is a little late - I've been in suspended animation for over a year - but better late than...)

Once again, BYOC will be held at the "Hotel That Shall Not Be Named"! (As of now, it is not the Ramada any longer but is called 'The Atrium'.) The location is still 1400 N. Lorraine Street, Hutchinson, KS 67501.


The BYOC Suite will open around 4 pm on Friday, the 27th!

It's the suite (Rm #322) on the north end of the hotel opening onto the atrium that the hotel is named after.



What is BYOC? 

It's a Once-A-Year, Weekend gathering of people with roots or interests in science fiction and/or fantasy fandom.

Is it a convention?

It's a "get-together."  For people who have done all of the panels, attended all of the events, schmoozed with the special guests, and now think the best times they have at most conventions are hanging out, catching up with old friends and acquaintances, making new ones, going out to eat and staying up late with fannish folk as we help each other detox from another year of life among the Mundanes.  Conventions have structure, staffs, program tracks--all that stuff that gets in the way of just chillin'.  So, if you've spent more time outside of the program rooms at last year's Cons than inside, if you remember the three-hour dinners in the Chinese restaurant across the street from the hotel more fondly than the masquerade or the auction, then BYOCon may be the perfect solution for getting together with fen and friends and avoiding all the guilt that comes with blowing off panels and readings and whatnot.

What is the structure?

There is a "Con Suite."  It is also The Film Room, The Video Room, The Dealers Room, and The Filk Room depending on what people bring and/or what people want to do.  It's our "gathering" center.  The suite opens out onto a semi-private lobby.  Which is next door to the indoor pool and hot tub and splashdown area.  Most activities are spontaneous and up to the individuals and groups that want to put something together.  Activities and gatherings spill over into whoever wants to host something in their own room, as well.  For the most part it just a lot of hanging out.

Following the traditions of the past six years, Friday and Saturday night dinners will probably take place at The Carriage Crossing and The Anchor Inn respectively but you're all free to go where and when and with whom you like.

Is there any programming?

Not in the pre-packaged sense.   Again, that's up to the people who participate, hence the BYO suggestion.  If somebody brings a DVD player and some movies, well, you're the "Film Room."  If someone has books or other stuff to sell, post info in the suite and your room is a "Dealer's Room."  One year we were able to get a back-room tour of the Cosmosphere's training rooms and flight simulators.  As always, the Cosmosphere and Strataca (formerly the Underground Salt Museum) are options for individual or group visits (just minutes away).  Any activities (fannish or otherwise) are up to you and if you wish to pre-advertise, I'll post it here and you can post it wherever.  Some of us are filkers so there may be some of that.  In the past we've had an author's reading and a presentation on "Electronic Self-Publishing."  Who knows who will show up and what will happen?

How big is it?

We try for intimate.  We've never aspired to be big and convention-like.  We've averaged 20 to 25 people over the past six years and we'd be just as happy with five to ten.  Anything over 50 would be kind of scary.  Of course, scary is all part of the genre so we're game if that happens, too...

What does it cost to get in?

Tickets to BYOCon are still $0.00. (No, that isn't a typo because BYOC literally means "Bring Your Own Con" so it's a little like Stone Soup)

In the past we have not charged a "Membership Fee," relying on freewill offerings to help defray the costs of the suite and any snackage therein.  This year we would like to suggest some kind of minimal contribution ($5 a person?) to the Con Suite "cookie jar" to help defray the costs of snackage, paper plates, cups,  Since there are no official badges and paperwork, this is fairly easy to circumvent so the suggestion is more in the realm of a guideline and request than a guardian-at-the-door sort of thing.  If the Generosity Fairy should smile upon you, please feel encouraged to bring and/or contribute to the meager stores of food and drink in the suite.  Nobody is making any money on this thing so there is no budget for snackage in the Con Suite; just what is donated on the fly.  B.Y.O. for sure but "blessed are they who bring their own and then some extra to share." 

The BYOC Room block is under Dawn Patrol Group and is $75 a night*.  (*The Room Block "officially" closed February 14th but you might check with the hotel for availability)  Phone is (620) 669-9311.

Rooms in the atrium area have a door to the hall and another to the atrium. You can go from your room to the party through the atrium.  Rooms include pool privileges and continental breakfast. If you book late or just show up, you might end up with a different room rate or on the other side of the hotel. Use "Dawn Patrol Group" when making a reservation and try to get an extension on our rate.

If you can find a better deals elsewhere (Days Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Econo Lodge, and Comfort Inn are within short walking distance) feel free. The Hampton Inn is across the highway. The room block doesn't help toward the suite so nobody should feel obligated to use the room block.

What are the Rules?

The Basic Rules and Boilerplate Disclaimer: people are responsible for themselves. There is no Con Comm, no official "convention contract" with the hotel, no official BYOC "entity."  We're just some friends getting together for the weekend and expect that you won't engage in anything illegal, dangerous, or overly obnoxious.  In the immortal words of Dalton in Roadhouse: "Be nice."

Any questions? Suggestions? Pass the word. Let us know. The clock is ticking.

This Year's Theme*

(*the first time we've even had one)

The theme will be "Tucker Tales" so bring your juiciest stories about Bob Tucker. And, although Bob often reminded us not to let the facts get

in the way of a good story, they can be stories that are factual (to the limits of your memory!).

We have reserved Room 322 again, the downstairs suite that we normally try to rent. The sliding glass door of the suite allows us access to the

block long atrium, The suite has a small wet bar, a nice table with chairs and some overstuffed furniture that has seen better days. The

hotel provides extra chairs on which weary people can sit and continue their chat (yes, there was chatting before the internet!).

Also, we have extended the suite rental by one day so we do not need to leave 322 until late Sunday.

Internal Directions

From the front desk, you walk toward the pool area and turn left at the first corner. You leave the Lobby through a door, make a quick left then right, the next door may or may not be open but neither need key cards, go along the small hallway into the atrium space. When things are most active, you can follow the noise. If quiet, travel almost the entire length of the atrium and we will be on the left. The east and west doors leading into the atrium are often unlocked during the day.

External Directions

Coming from the North, get off of I-35 at McPherson and follow K-61 to 17th street. Turn right at 17th, go to the 2nd set of stop lights and turn left onto Lorraine. Go a couple of blocks and the hotel is on the left.

East or west, K-50 to K-61, go north to 11th street, turn left and almost immediately turn right onto Lorraine, a few blocks and the hotel is on the right.

From the South, I-35 then I-235, exit to K-96, follow K-96 to almost South Hutchinson, take the first K-50/K-61exit (on the right just past the truck stop), go to the K-61 turn, follow K-61 north to 11th street, turn left and almost immediately turn right onto Lorraine, a few blocks and the hotel is on the right.

From K-96, a shorter route is exiting at Yoder. Exit right, turn right at the stop sign, go slowly through Yoder and continue north on the county road (known locally as the Yoder road until it reaches K-50 then it becomes the Airport road). At the Airport, you can turn left onto 11th street. It is a sharp turn so if you miss it, just keep going. The road curves from a north/south road into an east/west road, 17th street.

So, get to Hutchinson by any route, get onto 11th or 17th, travel until Lorraine. The party is on Lorraine!


There is no fixed schedule but we typically try to gather for a fanivore on Friday night and another on Saturday night. Saturday, interested people often gather for Strataca, the Cosmosphere, or maybe the Antique district.  (Times are based on group interest and Chaos Theory)

Strataca (once know as The Kansas Underground Salt Museum) has various packages. A basic ticket includes a walking self guided audio/video history of the mine, the reason why salt is important, and a section covering the history of Underground Vaults and Storage (that stores a huge amount of Hollywood's films and the end of that section includes things like George Clooney's Batman costume). You can add a tour on the inactive part of the mine with a history trip on the tram (the Dark ride) and/or or a different route on the Underground Train (low ceilings).

The Cosmosphere has an All Day Mission pass. The Pass includes an Imax documentary, a planetarium show (may not be open because of remodeling), Dr. Goddard's Lab (basic rocketry/oxygen show) and all day use of the museum. There are individual tickets for each venue so you can select what you see. The All Day Pass is typically less money than the cost of the museum admission and one show. For $0, you can enter the museum lobby, see the SR-71 Blackbird, the full scale Lunar Module, and the stained glass memorial to the astronauts of the Apollo 1 fire, and the last flights of Challenger and Columbia (including a piece of Apollo 1's launch stand and tiles from earlier flights of Challenger and Columbia). There are often other exhibits in the lobby area.

Both venues have gift shops. The Cosmosphere has the Lunar Outpost (a place to buy a meal or a snack). The Salt museum does not allow food or drink because salt dissolves.

Of course, you can spend the whole weekend relaxing!




A Little History

Over the years I've had conversations with friends and fans who urged me to start an SF Con of my own--even if it was a merely a "Relaxicon."  Clearly they were insane.  Not so clearly...I am not. 

There came a day, however, when I got to thinking how nice it would be to have an unofficial get-together of friends and fen--especially in the dead of winter, when nothing much is going on.  The idea was to do what we love to do at all of the other well-organized, well-staffed, and seriously programmed conventions that we attend.  In otherwords: hang out and go to dinner (breakfast, lunch, second breakfast, etc.) together.  Or separately.  Or in disorganized. small groups 

A lot of us have reached the age where we've done all the panels, schmoozed with the pros, and find the most satisfying aspects of the yearly pilgrimages to be seeing old friends, making new friends, and getting to know each other a little better.  So, Charlie McCue (my fellow exile in Hutchinson) and I sat down and began talking.  What if we could do all that stuff (hanging out and kicking back and eating and partying) without all the other stuff that we skip to do the hanging out, kicking back, eating, and partying?  Best of all, without having all the other stuff on our schedules, we can do the fun stuff a lot cheaper and guilt-free!

Thus Bring-Your-Own-Con was launched in February of 2009 with the help and support of Roger Tener through the auspices of The Dawn Patrol, followed by the second in 2010 and so on.  We sorta didn't expect anyone to show up the first time but we were surprised.  For seven years running now.  So we don't have any excuse to not do it again...


Notes on the Previous BYOCons


BYOCon 6(67) - The Neighbor of the Beast


Why are we still doing this?  We don't know!  Please make us stop!

But, since we're doing "nothing" the end of February/beginning of March,

we'll be doing it with our old friends, our new friends, and our future friends

who just happen to wander in by mistake!


BYOCon 5: Fandom takes "The Fifth"

March 1-3, 2013 in Hutchinson, Kansas


BYOCon 4  (Because every successful Trilogy deserves one last chance to bomb)

February 17-19, 2012 in Hutchinson, Kansas

We thought we were done... 

We thought we could go back to doing nothing in the month of February...

But you insisted! 

So once again we'll be doing "nothing" the third weekend in February but we'll be doing it with our old friends, our new friends, and our future friends who just happen to wander in by mistake!


BYOCon 3-D(uh): The Third Time's a Charm (and it's Magically Delicious)

February 11-13, 2011 in Hutchinson, Kansas

Yes, my friends, against all odds and logical expectations, the last two experiments in unstructured fen fraternization have not sucked enough to prevent us from a third trip off the con reservation. 



BYOCon II: The Redundancy Effect will be more of the same except for what will be different! (2010)



The Original Invite & Explanation for BYOCon I (2009)

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. I wish to extend a special invitation to those kindred souls who could do with a break in the tedium or an escape from the drumbeat of the incessant responsibilities of the daily grind.

I invite you to a small gathering of fen and friends - old and soon-to-be-acquainted - the weekend of February 20th through 22nd, in Hutchinson, Kansas.     

Wm. Mark Simmons

Why in February for Ghu's sake?

My Cage-Match-to-the-Death with Mortality has gone 55 rounds so far and I'm still standing. On February 20th I'll celebrate Round 56.

I didn't specifically plan this as a Birthday event. My original idea was something away from the December holiday block but avoiding the spring thaw/Tax Meltdown/Kickoff the early Convention cycle time issues. I don't want this to compete with any of the Midwest Cons. And springs, summers, and fall are filled with all sorts of activities.

Winter can be pretty fallow after the holidays: a good time to pull up a chair with a cuppa and have warm times with good company while the wind howls outside. No date is going to be optimum for everyone but I kicked this around with Charlie McCue and we found our best scheduling window to be the weekend of February 20th, 21st, 22nd. Synchronicity.

And gas is much more reasonable right now than it was when we first started discussing the idea.

Is it a convention?

It's a gathering of people with roots in fandom. That sounds like a convention. Activities and such are an open process at this time so I'm inclined to label it as "BYOCon" (Bring Your Own CON) not to be confused with the old BYOB-Con that launched ConQuest. Some people suggested it be called "Mark I" but my ego isn't nearly as big as the rest of me. If we're going to bring names into it, I prefer Chilly-Con-Charlie.

Is there programming?

Again, that's up to the people who participate, hence the BYO suggestion.

Charlie and I are happy to host the weekend. If five people show up we'll have a nice time, and expect things to be much more laid back. If 25 people show up, well, the more the merrier and the options for more variety abound. 

We've arranged for a room block of 10 rooms but can probably expand that if more people sign up early.

What might we do?

I'll have my guitar and if people want to filk, we can do that. (And we won't wait until 11 p.m. to start - I promise you that.)

If people have manuscripts that want to share or discuss with other like-minded writers or readers, I'm for that - I'll toss a couple of my own on the pile.

Is there a dealers room? 

No, but I have no objection to anyone offering anything (legal) for sale.


That's up to you. I still have my many sided die and a stack of D&D books. You want variety; you'll have to step up.

Formalized discussions?

If you're coming and we can find like-minded participants, why not. Give me suggestions.

Movies? Media programs?

Bring your VHS or DVD player and solicit some interest or choices ahead of time.

Outside activities?

You mean besides the potential for snowball fights and ice sculpture?

First of all, there is the famous Cosmosphere & Space Museum just a few blocks away. With an IMAX dome theater, planetarium, and vast museum containing the 2nd largest collection of US space artifacts in the world and the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Russia, you can spend the day and not see everything. I highly recommend Dr. Goddard's Lab! And ask Charlie about the Space Camps and the Future Astronaut Training Programs! Among the exhibits of this Smithsonian affiliate are the recovered Mercury capsule "Liberty Bell 7" from the ocean floor and the actual Apollo 13 Command Module, "Odyssey." With 15 or more we can get a group discount.

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum is just a couple of miles away and 650 feet underground.

Food ranges from home-cooked Mennonite fare at the "Carriage Crossing" to Mongolian Bar-B-Q and Chinese to Mexican, with standard chains like Applebee's and Chili's, as well as the offbeat like "Burgers 'N' Bait" and "Sacks 5th Avenue."

The "Con Suite" is the "Celebration Suite" at the Grand Prairie Hotel. This will serve as a social nexus, main programming, and kickback room. Since we're not charging admission or membership fees, we're not budgeted for "Con Suite Food & Drinks." I'm open to suggestions from those who want to come, otherwise, BYO.

Aside from the Suite, my house is just a few blocks away and we can go there for some things if necessary. You want to plan something for your room? Great!

Why should you come?

That's up to you. We're not looking to create a major event, here. We're aiming for an intimate, low key, laid back weekend for a few old friends and like-minded folk who need to get away for a day or two. Can we talk business? Absolutely. Do Con-like things? If you like. But that's up to you. It's "BYOCon" and I invite you to throw your ideas out here and see if anybody else wants to join in.

But what if I don't know anybody? 

The whole point to this is to get to know people better. Old and new.

But it's winter, you say.

Yes. It is winter! It's cold and dark and it's been too long since I basked in the warmth of good friends, good conversation, and slipped the bonds of the mundane. How about you? April seems a long way away. I need something in the meantime. How about you?

You say: But I've already budgeted for my maximum number of Cons this year!

Believe me; I wouldn't want this to take the place of any other convention out there. That's why we picked February and consider it a non-con AND have done everything to keep costs down short of suggesting arctic camping gear in our back yards.

It's up to you how much you want to invest over the baseline.

The rooms at the Prairie Hotel are $79 (plus tax) and come with pool privileges and breakfast. Use "Dawn Patrol Group" when making a reservation and make sure they give you the rate. Tell them how many in your room so everyone will get a pool pass.

If you can find a better deals elsewhere (Holiday Inn Express, Microtel, and Comfort Inn are within short walking distance) feel free. Best Value motel is down the street about two blocks and the Hampton Inn is across the highway. The room block doesn't help toward the suite so nobody should feel obligated to use the room block.

The Basic Rules and Boilerplate Disclaimer: people are responsible for themselves. There is no Con Comm, no official contract with the hotel, no attendance fee (aside from any love offering you might want to make toward peripheral expenses, if any). We're just some friends getting together for the weekend and expect that you won't engage in anything illegal, dangerous, or overly obnoxious.

Any questions? Suggestions? Pass the word. Let us know. The clock is ticking.

Keep in touch, even if you can't come. As I've said: we're approaching this as a small, semi-intimate gathering but we won't be upset if more people want to come.

But we'd love to have you.

And, hey, it's gonna be my birthday. Wish me a Happy.

In person if you can.

Wm. Mark Simmons


Photos from BYOCon I: Chilly Con Charlie at MidAmerican Fan Photo Archive