Duckon 7 was held over the weekend of June 12-14 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel O'Hare in Rosemont, a Chicago suburb. This convention has a furry (anthropomorphic animal) emphasis, and I've been attending for the last four years. Duckon 4 in 1995 was the first convention at which I showed art, and the one that got me interested in furry fandom.
Unfortunately this year's Duckon didn't quite seem to be up to the standards of previous years. The hotel was the first obvious problem. Not only was it right beside the airport (so that we got to hear the noise of commercial jumbo jets taking off and landing at all hours), but it was also so spread out that you couldn't get anywhere without a *long* walk. There was a stupid "flood control" hump in front of the back entrance which made loading and unloading for dealers into a total pain, especially for people who were handling heavy stuff like crates of books. Someone said it looked like several different old motels that were all bought up and minimally remodeled, then joined to the convention-center area. It also had minimal parking, so that you didn't want to try to move your vehicle after you parked it, lest you return to be told you'd have to park in the nearby pay lot and fork over 7 bucks a day to park. That wouldn't have been bad if there were some decent restaurants nearby, but there wasn't anything but a McDonald's and the grotesquely-overpriced hotel restaurant. The only decent thing about the place was the indoor pool and hot tub, but that wasn't so great on Saturday, since someone had apparently turned off the heater on the hot tub and it was tepid instead of hot. A lot of people were strongly hoping that the concom would find a new hotel for next year.
Also the programming just didn't seem to be up to the standards of previous years. I didn't even see any panels that I wanted to attend, and instead spent the bulk of my time helping in the dealers' room, when I wasn't checking for bids on my art in the art show (I sold two pieces, and had some people express interest in two others and got contact information so they could find me when their financial situations improved) or grabbing a bite from the con suite. There was actually some real food in the con suite, but the hotel was being real skunky about letting us take anything out of it, apparently in an effort to force us to patronize their overpriced restaurant.
There was a Furry Artists' Den where artists could sit at tables and draw stuff for people or sell copies of their own works. In past years I've spent some time in this, but this year they required artists to buy a $5 button (apparently some of the dealers felt the former arrangement was unfair competition with them, particularly artists who bought tables to sell their own works). Since I was desperately short of cash and didn't have that much in the way of prepared prints or an established following, I decided that the cost wasn't worth it. So I just went through a couple of times and talked to the artists who were there.
Although people seemed to be holding their cash tight in the dealers' room, the art auction was unusually big this year, lasting well over two hours and having some truly excellent pieces. Every one of Cheryl Storm's dragon sculptures went to auction and bagged good prices, and Ed Reck had almost all his paintings go to auction (he's an artist who's really found a following in the last few years -- the first time I saw his stuff on the art show, none of it seemed to be moving).
Unfortunately the parties really weren't much to speak of. There was only one on Friday night and four on Saturday night, and none of them seemed to be particularly active. There was no sign of Sunshine's cow party with the black-and-white-spotted Had A Cow ribbons, although Sunshine had a number of pieces in the art show and I saw her briefly in the hallway.
The Internet room was fairly good, although they had only terminals, nothing that could support a graphical browser like Netscape. That hampered me somewhat, but I was still able to check the story queue for Critters, the online writers' workshop of which I'm a member.
On Sunday people were actually buying some stuff in the dealers' room, apparently since they no longer felt the need to hang onto money for art in the auction. However sales weren't exactly stellar and most dealers started breaking down and packing before closing time. Of course having to negotiate that stupid "flood-control" hump with every load didn't help the process of packing.
After everything was taken care of, I made one last trip to the con suite to grab last-minute munchies and say good-bye to some friends that I probably won't see again for a while, at least not until the next con I attend. Then I headed out to my car for the long drive back to Carbondale.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.