Bring Your Own Con(vention)
BYOCon 6(67) - The Neighbor of The Beast
February 28th, March 1&2, 2013 in Hutchinson, Kansas
Call & Ask for BYOCon block rates...
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!
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, 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 five years running now. So we don't have any excuse to not do it again...
What is it?
It's a 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. Following the traditions of the past three 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 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 will probably 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 fivr 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...
What does it cost to get in?
I'm not sure what the current Room Block fees are--you'll have to call the hotel and ask. In the past we've arranged a room special for $80 (plus tax) which includes pool privileges and continental breakfast. We have a room block (of 10) until they're filled or Mid February arrives. If you reserve after that 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 make sure they give you the 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.
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 a minimal $5+ contribution per person. 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.
Other contributions may take the form of food and drinks for the suite. Nobody is making any money on this thing so there is no budget for food in the "con"suite. BYO for sure but "blessed are they who bring their own and some extra to share."
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: "Be nice."
Any questions? Suggestions? Pass the word. Let us know. The clock is ticking.
Notes on the Previous BYOCons
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
(formerly the Grand Prairie Hotel and Convention Center)
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
also listed as the Ramada Conference Center in Hutchinson
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)
1) Again, there is no registration or membership fee: come when you can, leave when you want. (any freewill contributions toward the cost of the con suite are appreciated but not mandatory)
2) There is a room block at the Grand Prairie Hotel and Convention Center for the special rate of $80 (plus tax), good until February 19th! (be sure and mention "The Dawn Patrol Group" when making your reservation)
3) Thanks to popular demand, the ConSuite is on the 1st Floor this year, making the option to stay at any of the finer (or lesser) accommodations in the Wichita/Hutchinson area nearly as practical.
4) Programming and Activities (if any) are up to you. See below for the guiding principles of BYOCon I:
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
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.
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.
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|