ChambanaCon is a small relaxacon held every year on Thanksgiving weekend at the Chancellor Inn in Champaign, Illinois. The quiet, intimate nature of this con makes it possible to sit back and socialize with fellow fen in a way that often isn't possible at the larger cons. Also the small size of the con prevents some of the snarl-ups that have occurred at cons that have gotten too large too fast. For instance registration was quick and unmarred by problems such as plagued DucKon IV last summer.
ChambanaCon happens to be one of the few cons that still serve liquor in their con suite. Therefore they have a two-room con suite. One room has the bar, while the other one has soft drinks for those who do not or cannot indulge. The bar room also permits smoking, while the soft-drink room is non-smoking (the choice of place to socialize if one happens to be so unfortunate as to have allergies to tobacco smoke). However it appears that liability issues may force ChambanaCon to go dry in the near future. The con suite also serves sandwich fixings at meal times, so it is actually possible to get through the con without having to go to a restaurant and still eat reasonably well. (However there are also some excellent restaurants within easy walking or driving distance from the hotel, for those who want to sample Champaign-Urbana's culinary fare).
ChambanaCon also has an art show and an auction on Saturday night, although they are both small. The auction is quite laid-back, with none of the feeding-frenzy bidding that characterizes larger cons such as Capricon. This means that it isn't as much fun to watch, but it's safer to partcipate in because one is less likely to get caught in a bidding war for a particular piece and wind up spending more than one can afford.
The dealer's room was surprisingly well-stocked for such a small con. A number of people had used books for sale at reasonable prices, and there were two dealers of new books as well. Plus there was the usual assortment of costuming equipment, gaming aids and other things of interest to fen.
An entire room was set aside for gaming, so that people who wanted to play games or just talk about gaming could congregate without disturbing others. However this didn't keep a few impromptu games of Magic and Furry Heroes from happening in various corners elsewhere.
For the fourth year in a row there was a world-building panel, in which the members created an entire world from the ground up, working out its orbit around its sun, the layout of its continents, the evolution of its flora and fauna and the nature of its civilizations. At the close of the con the world was opened to the public domain with the sole request that people using it give credit to the Con.
There were a number of other activities, including the "I Wish I'd Missed That" panel discussion, author readings, films, and even a small writers' workshop meeting. On Saturday evening the banquet was a big attraction, such that anyone who chose not to attend would have a hard time finding anyone to socialize with. (ChambanaCon is unusual for small cons in still having a banquet).
ChambanaCon is a good con to go in order to just hang out with other fen and have a laid-back good time. It's certainly no working con for writers and artists in the way something like ConFluence is, but if one is interested in getting involved in con-com work, something like this would be a good place to learn the basics of planning before becoming involved in larger, more involved cons.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.