On June 6, 1997 I drove up to the Hyatt in Oak Brook for the sixth annual Duckon, a convention devoted primarily to furry (anthropomorphic animal) fandom, although it also welcomes a wide variety of other sf/fantasy fandom. Unfortunately this was their first year at that hotel, and there were problems. Another convention had been scheduled for the days immediately before Duckon, and thus no time had been allotted to breaking down the other con and setting up Duckon. Thus when I arrived at 11AM, everything was in chaos. I was not even able to locate anything to do with registration and get my badge or sign up to help until well after noon. However I was able to help a friend of mine bring in his things for the dealers' room shortly before noon, which did help.
When I finally got my badge and was signing up to help, someone came in with the announcement that there was a desperate need for gophers to help bring in the con suite supplies and the pegboards for the art show. So I went with a number of other fans up to the loading dock, where I found myself put to use as a human doorstop. I held the door open for about an hour while they carried in several pallets worth of food and all the pegboards. After that I went down and helped set up the art show. Once the pegboards were in place, I joined in on putting up mail-in art before finally hanging up my own works.
Because of the problems, the art show was late opening to the public, which created some difficulties. However the art show staff decided to also extend the hours that evening, so that artists and potential buyers didn't lose out on the time because of the initial screw-ups. Afterward I went to the con suite and saw some old friends, then went up to visit the parties. Actually there were very few parties this year, which may have had something to do with the hotel problems. I did get to the MSFFA party, which seemed to be going fairly well.
The following morning I went down to the con suite to grab something to eat before the dealers room and the art show opened. While I was there I heard that there had been some problems with mundanes being put in a room right beside a party and then complaining about the noise. (Apparently there were some really clueless people in the hotel.)
I spent most of the morning helping at the art show or with the table of my friend the dealer. Two of the panels I wanted to see were cancelled, but I did get to the airbrushing demonstration by the Artist Guest of Honor and the furry art color workshop by the Furry Guest of Honor. In the latter I learned some interesting techniques for layering and blending marker and colored pencil, which I have since tried (although I also discovered that I'm going to have to invest in a higher grade of markers and pencils).
In the evening I spent about an hour in the Furry Artists' Den, drawing and watching other people draw, until it was time for the art auction. I had two charity pieces, but otherwise none of my stuff went to auction (one of my pieces did make direct sale). The bidding seemed rather slow, but there were a few pieces that did go for reasonably high sums.
Unfortunately I apparently missed the MSFFA meeting that was held that evening. However I did get to several parties after the Art Auction was over. The Chicago in 2000 people were having their usual party, and I was able to pick up two more cards for my collection, taking me that much closer to a free upgrade to attending membership. However I didn't win the drawing and get three free cards. Afterward I went down to the computer room and did some searching on the Web before turning in for the night.
Sunday morning I went down to the con suite and got a bite to eat before heading down to the art show to help with checkout. When I got there, they were desperate for people, since there weren't any gophers at all and the staff was having to do everything. However several other people showed up within an hour, so by noon there were enough people that I could check out my own art and leave. Then I had to go to registration and turn in my gopher sheet, since I'd done enough hours to earn my membership and a free slogan on a con T-shirt. Then I said my good-byes to various friends before heading for my car and the long trip back home to Carbondale to begin summer session at Southern Illinois University.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.