Got Con? is a three part series originally written and posted the summer of 2009 for Northeast Wars’ web site. It is republished here over the course of three Mondays for completeness’ sake.
Too often we hear the cry, “But I didn’t hear about the convention until yesterday!” And sadly, this lament is uttered two days after the con ended. It’s a sad truth that many conventions are stealthy events, under-advertised and unknown outside of the right social circles. They can come and go with little notice, particularly if people in the know just assumes that everyone else is going, obviating the “Are you going to Mudcon?” conversation, which can be a handy clue for the sharp-eared convention-goer.
The point is that these things don’t just stroll up to the convention-goer’s door. Even with the most widespread, far reaching advertising efforts on the con’s part, the odds of finding one improve by taking active measures to do so. In the interest of helping fellow enthusiasts and hobbyists, we present the Got Con? series, detailing ways to find conventions in your area or field of interest. In this part, we’ll start with squares one and two. The initial modes of attack in chasing down a convention are behind the jump.
(Keep in mind, we’re gamers first and foremost. Many of our examples will skew that way, but the overall techniques should hold true regardless of what your interest may be.)
Your Friendly Local Hobby Store
The hobby-oriented store, whether it serves players of games, builders of model railroads or knitters of spun wool, is often a social hub as well as business. People may pause to chat with the staff while shopping. You could strike up a conversation with someone browsing the same section as you. If you’re a newcomer to the area, use opportunities like this to find out about the local hobby scene, whatever it might be. Is there a monthly get-together, a game-a-thon or a knit-along?
A traditional part of any game store is the bulletin board. In addition to the notices of people looking to join a roleplaying campaign or sell off the army of miniatures they no long want to play, the board can be a promising place to find promotional fliers for local or regional conventions, perhaps even notes from people looking to share rooms or rides.
Sometimes, the hobby store may be the one that sponsors the convention, as is the case with Northeast Wars. In that case, it should be a snap to find when, where and how much the convention is. Just talk to the store staff to find out who’s spearheading the effort.
If you need help finding a local, or at least drivable, hobby store, that’s a whole post in and of itself, but try starting off with The Master List.
Word of Mouth
Often, this seems to be the number one way people find out about anything, let alone conventions. So put it to work for you. While word of mouth would seem to just be part of making use of the collected knowledge of the people you meet in your local hobby shop, it can also work in wider social circles. Don’t be reticent about letting people know what you’re looking for. Pump them for information. Even if your friends and acquaintances are not the convention-going type, they may have heard or read something somewhere. Even a half-remembered mention of “something over in Shelbyville” can give you a direction in which to snoop further.
In the next part of the Got Con? series, we’ll cover two more techniques to try in your quest for con-tentment.