Costume-Con 24 in Des Moines wasn't all we hoped it would be, but it was fantastic.
The flight in to Des Moines (through Denver) was relatively painless. We got through security in San Jose quickly, the flight to Denver was quick and the connection to Des Moines was too. We landed in heat and humidity, but it wasn't too bad. Picked up the rental car (a HHR; for those of you who haven't driven one, they're not so great) and drove in to the Hotel Fort Des Moines without getting too lost (not that there's much in Des Moines to get lost in). The rains started as we got to the hotel, but getting loaded out wasn't too bad, and we got our suite and picked up our shipped stuff pretty quickly.
The Hotel Fort Des Moines is a grand old railroad hotel right downtown. Unfortunately, Des Moines is one of those cities that rolls up the downtown sidewalks on Friday night and doesn't really re-open until Monday. Well, it would if Monday was a business day, but we were there Memorial Day weekend. Downtown was quiet on Saturday (with some businesses and restaurants open) and dead on Sunday and Monday. It was a bit difficult finding food on Sunday and Monday. That was, though, something we expected.
It being Thursday afternoon, though, we had no problem getting a bit to nosh at the Raccoon River Brewery, just at the other end of the block. Raccoon River is a nice little microbrewery with a great kitchen, and Henry and Sandy & Pierre joined us. The Chocolate Porter seasonal beer was just vile, but the Rye Beer, Stout and Maibock were very popular with the table.
Even though the convention hadn't started yet, Registration was open, as was the consuite. We got our badges very quickly; Rachelle was running a great reg desk. Iowa being Iowa, the party started early and ran late in the Consuite. We found night_x_walker, reddheart, karisu_sama, didjiman, C&R's youngest daughter, jeff_morris and Mary (I think, I'm running on memory) along with a bunch of non LJ-ites congregating and having a few drinks. Rachelle finally closed registration around 9 or 10 (I think) and brough her whole pack up to consuite so she could process pre-reg folks there while enjoying the party.
We didn't stay up way too late, but we did stay up too late, what with the ICG Annual Meeting scheduled for 10:00 on Friday morning. This was kind of important, I had a committee report to present, a little motion on the agenda, and there were other motions I cared about. The meeting was actually rather refreshing; there was a clear agenda and Nora needed far less hand-holding to run the meeting than several previous presidents. The new ICG Guidelines passed (I still owe Jeff updated files for the website, though). There's plans to form a committee to deal with "orphaned" members should a chapter leave the ICG in the future. The Archives Publishing committee report was well received.
K did a few panels in the afternoon and I sat at the CC26 table selling registrations until the dealers room closed. The dealers room was pretty sparse; two jewelry dealers, two hat makers, an ImageCraft Studios display table and Lance Oszko's beads was pretty much it. There were, unfortunately, way too many major events the same weekend that had a greater-than-anticipated effect on the convention.
The Red Carpet reception (Friday night social) was a blast. K and I went down in our Stargate SG-X uniforms and had a reserved table with a bottle of champagne-like-substance since we had picked up a "Studio Mogul" package to support the Costume-Con Archives. The hotel put out a pretty nice snack buffet of vegetable and cheese trays, and ran a cash bar at the back of the room while the con tech crew ran music. There was some really great costumes. After the reception we adjourned to the consuite yet again.
Saturday was more time spent at the fan table selling CC26 memberships for me. We did a quick grocery run around lunchtime to buy party supplies, but it was mostly table time. Then I went up to the consuite to decorate it for our loeg party. The posters actually went up pretty quickly, but the vinyl and cloth wallpapers were both just nasty. Nothing wanted to stick. Still, the help from Ann and David was invaluable, and made getting the posters up in time possible. K was judging F&SF masquerade for Elaine, and I had reserved seats for the show thanks again to the "Studio Mogul" package. The show ran very smoothly, and after all the entrants completed their presentations I headed back up to the consuite to prepare to put out the food for the party.
The hotel had a bit of an air-conditioning problem. The third floor (consuite and panels) was getting no useful a/c. The second floor (events and dealers) was a meat locker. The latter was fine if you were wearing substantial costumes, but otherwise a bit chilly when there wasn't a large quantity of people. The former was a mess, particularly when we were hosting a party there that most of the convention was expected to attend. While the judges were deliberating, Susan and I got the room ready and waited for the masquerade to end.
Awards were given, the show wound up, and the people came up to the consuite. Sheril helped us hand out "Minion" ribbons to everybody who came in. K and I helped people earn "Lab Rat" ribbons; this party's experimental substances were "Cat Juice" (a German semi-dry riesling in cat-shaped bottles), experimental space food from the first all-hippie mission to Mars (freeze-dried Tofu) and Finn tar-licorice (which needed no euphemism). There was also good strange food. Henry and K made up martinis for people. At around midnight we let people snag the posters they liked; we're switching over to the new set printed for this year's baycon so it seemed like a good time to get rid of them. I did save the signed "Licensor" poster, though.
Sunday morning came way too early; K had a 9:00 call for the Future Fashion show; if you want more information about that see his journal. I got up in time to be seated for the show at 11:00. Show was very good, but the runway set-up was too narrow; the models' return pass took way too long because they each had to do it individually.
Sunday was also quite a bit more time sitting at the table selling memberships.
Neither K nor I had any commitments for the Historical Masquerade, so we just got to watch it. There were only about a dozen entries, but they were all fabulous. Half-time was Rachelle's belly-dance troupe, and they were actually pretty good. After the show we again went up to the consuite, where the newly seated Baltimore 2009 costume-con was hosting and selling memberships. We turned over the rest of our booze from Saturday's party to them.
Since the ICG meeting has shifted to Friday, Monday has become a pretty mellow day. There were a few panels, closing ceremonies and initial tear-down. A gang of us headed out to the Iowa Beef Steak House. It was a bit farther from downtown than many of us expected. Way farther downtown than many of us expected. We did drive past the strangest building though; a three-story red brick florist's shop (I think, it might have been a cleaner) with cast-concrete Art Deco gargoyles on the front of it.
Iowa Beef was in a rather unassuming buildign with a big ugly sign. Inside the decor was pretty rustic, with barn-board panels, trestle tables and antique farm implements. There was a huge grill (two, actually, as it turned out, but it was a quiet night so the second wasn't in use) and a refrigerated case of steaks. Everything on the menu was $24, $23 if you cook it yourself, or $28 if you wanted to split with someone (split got you an extra potato and salad bar). The smallest cut was a 14 oz bacon-wrapped filet. There were several 24 oz steaks in the selection. On the upside, they definitely knew how to do rare. Food was huge but excellent.
We got back to find the dead-dog party in full swing. There was plenty of food and drink left. There were also people who had tried to leave with connecting flights through Chicago returning to the hotel; bad weather had most flights in and out of Chicago canceled. Dead dog was good, and most folks just enjoyed their extra night in Des Moines.
Tuesday we packed up, shippped out the party crate, had lunch at Raccoon River again, and hauled reddheart and night_x_walker with us to the airport; their re-booking put them on our Denver flight. Return was pretty calm, particularly compared to what everybody else went through.
Things learned from Costume-Con 24:
- Memorial Day Weekend is a bad weekend for Costume-Con
- The hotel contract must include a clause that covers availability of the HVAC engineer
Pictures are up at:
Wookie's Smugmug Gallery (official photos)
didjiman's ImageCraft Photo Studio Gallery