Duckon XI

Duckon XI was held over the weekend of June 7-9, 2002 at the Woodfield Hyatt in Schaumburg, Illinois, one of the western suburbs of Chicago. This is the hotel where Windycon is regularly held, so there was a constant lingering sense of disorientation, made even more intense by the various ways in which Duckon was doing things differently than Windycon always did. It seemed weird to be coming there in the heat of summer (well, technically late spring, but it was already summer-hot) when it "should" be late fall with wintery weather making heavy coats necessary.

One of the most obvious differences for us was in the handling of the dealers' room. At Windycon, it is strictly forbidden to pull vehicles down into the loading dock ramp, and anyone who does can be permanently banned from ever dealing at any future Windycon. However, Duckon let dealers pull their vehicles down into the loading dock ramp and unload right at the entrance, which greatly decreased the amount of time necessary to unload. This was especially true for us, since our tables were located right beside the loading dock door.

Then we just had to get all our stuff arranged and set up. This proved a little more challenging than we'd expected, since we had tables arranged in an L-shape, and couldn't rearrange them very much to win additional space. We had to do some really creative things to get everything in, and put our trifold wire rack right behind our tables.

We got things finished just in time for them to open. Here was yet another difference from the usual arrangement at Windycon. Instead of having the doors from the side hallway open and having the doors on the end (at the opposite end of the room from the loading dock) closed off, they had the doors at the end open. This made for a different traffic pattern, and I was constantly forgetting and walking to the hall where the entrance would be at Windycon, then having to go back to get in.

We also got our badges, and I got my stuff on the art show. They also used a different room from the one Windycon uses, so I had a little trouble finding it. But once I did, I got my art up fairly quickly, including some brand-new pieces I'd just produced.

I also went to look for the con suite, and ran into yet another difference from the usual Windycon procedure. Instead of placing it on the first floor in the group of rooms off to the right side of the rear entrance, Duckon had their con suite on the third floor. This meant that we had to use the elevator to get to it, which could make things challenging if the elevators got busy.

We also got checked into our sleeping room and got our stuff settled into it. Once all those things were taken care of, we settled into the dealers' room to try to make as many sales as possible. Because it was being kept open so late, we decided to just call in a pizza for supper rather than try to go out to a restaurant.

After the dealers' room closed, we went down to the hot tub. We quickly discovered that the Hyatt had redone their pool area and eliminated the indoor hot tub, leaving only the outdoor one. It was good and hot, and we sat there for a while as the sun went down and the sky grew dark. Unfortunately, we realized that this change would mean that we would not be able to use the hot tub at Windycon, since by November the outdoor pool and hot tub would be shut down.

After that we went around to the parties. At least Duckon had a good selection of parties to attend. After we'd made the rounds, we called it a night.

On Saturday we got up early and got our tables open for business. Sales remained slow, and I spent a lot of time messing around with notes for a novel. I'd been wanting to do more work on my current novel, but I was too tired to manage the intense concentration necessary to produce actual text. Just making notes about possibilities doesn't take near that level of alertness.

In the afternoon, not long before the dealers' room was going to close, I got a massage from one of the students from the Chicago School of Massage Therapy. They regularly offer free massages on a volunteer basis at various Chicago-area conventions as part of their training. I found this a very welcome relaxation, and a relief for a lot of aching muscles.

After the dealers' room closed, we walked over to Joe's Crab Shack, which is just down the street from the Hyatt. We had a fairly long wait to get a table, but it was worth it to get some really good seafood.

After supper we took another trip to the hot tub and did some more soaking. While we were there, we talked with some other fen.

In the evening we made the rounds of the parties. There were some fairly good parties, and we also dropped by the con suite before turning in for the night.

Unfortunately Sunday wasn't quite so pleasant. I woke up with a horrible rash, which was apparently a reaction to soap residue in the sheets. After we got our personal things out of the room, we complained to the management, and they got me some antihistamine to knock down the reaction.

However, I was still feeling pretty miserable the whole time we were sitting in the dealers' room. I couldn't even help pack and load out. My husband was able to get a gopher to help him carry out our unsold merchandise, of which we had far too much.

Once we were finished loading out, we went up to the con suite for one last time to get some food and say a few last good-byes. However, due to someone's bad planning, the convention had lost access to the rooms in which the con suite had been before the convention was over, so they moved everything that was left to another set of rooms that became an alternate con suite. Even so, the fare was getting pretty skimpy by that point, and I wasn't extraordinarily impressed.

Then we headed back to mundania. I was so wiped out that I slept most of the way.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.