If necessity is the mother of invention, then in September 2013 necessity gave birth to Blurriecon, a small convention in Erie, PA that ran in lieu of the then-recently dissolved Erie Anime Experience. The birth was unexpected and very early–the show ran with only about three full weeks of preparation and promotion–but the show was successful enough that it ran again this year.
If we drag the baby analogy out a little longer, we can note that this show is essentially 14 months old. If it was an actual child, this would be the exciting milestone time, where it’s likely a baby will begin to walk and talk. Blurriecon is showing those signs of development, but, like a child, they aren’t necessarily fully formed. There was a good amount of signage, but most of it was on Post-It notes. The show was three days, but Dealer’s Room didn’t open until Saturday and had weird hours as a result. There was programming galore, including the return of their awesome, old-school-console-filled game room, but for a 300-or-so-person show, it was too much programming. Staff all seemed willing and eager to please, but rule enforcement felt lax, and forethought seemed absent at the wrong times. At a cursory glance, you would think that Blurriecon was run by people who have been to enough conventions to know what’s needed, but don’t know how they actually work. This isn’t necessarily a problem at this stage of a baby con’s life, but if these types of missteps continue to happen at later shows, I’d be consulting a pediatrician.
What may buy Blurriecon some time to develop is its attendees. Every convention is different in terms of demographics and interests, partially due to every convention being in a different location. Erie does have a selection of colleges, but its largest enrolls less than 10,000 and the combined enrollment of the major schools is still less than the University of Pittsburgh. Throw that in with a metropolitan population of about 200,000 (one-tenth Pittsburgh’s metro population) and you are looking at a majority of attendees with a very “small-town” mindset. It likely would not have mattered what Blurriecon actually did do for programming, because the biggest attraction was finally meeting other people that liked anime. As a long-seasoned attendee, it was nostalgic and somewhat refreshing to see meeting and socializing be the biggest priority. However, if you were a programmer or a vendor, the show was likely a disappointment.
Now that Blurriecon had a full year to conceptualize and develop, it showed signs of an excellent show, but it’s not there yet. It’s up to the staff to learn and apply the proper skills and techniques of a professional-looking convention in future years. We like many others will be eagerly awaiting these developments, camera in hand to capture every important step along the way.