Tuesday, December 4, 2012

con review: airship pirate days

Many apologies for not updating about the Airship Pirate Days convention outside Pittsburgh at an earlier time.  It will be a busy month for me at both work and in my so-called "leisure" time.  

The convention was the weekend after Thanksgiving- November 24 and 25, at the Washington County Fairgrounds.  With normal traffic patterns it would be an easy 45 minute drive.  Unfortunately there was a major problem with the highway leading directly to the convention on November 24, the day I traveled out to the con- there were numerous accidents- some of them deadly.  I ended up being very late but arrived in one piece.

When I got to the spacious Fairground building reserved for the con, however, I noticed that pretty much every single individual there was a vendor.  Surprisingly enough, so was I- vending for both House of Broken Needles.  

The season's first snowfall and the accidents may have contributed to the poor turnout of actual attendees.  Most of the vendors themselves were Renaissance Faire vendors, but a few participants had excellent steampunk costumes:

A pickpocket!

There was also a band playing, story time (with yours truly) and some kids games.  Unfortunately there were only four kids there between the ages of 0 and 12, all the children of vendors.  Of those kids there was only one who was of proper age to appreciate my faerie wings, and she seemed afraid of strangers. *sigh*

There were also some feats such as whip stunts and firebreathing:

There was also a costume contest.  

Sadly enough  I was not in the running.  But two Steel City Steam Society members- Gina and Narla- snatched up 1st and second place respectively:

My assessment of the convention isn't the best.  Forgive me any harshness- the con has promise, but it has a long way to go before it can reach the caliber of even modest steampunk cons.

The pros:
  • Close to home
  • Only a $7 entry fee
  • Tons of goods to buy (if not always steampunk)
  • Cheap and decent food
The cons:
  • Seemingly lack of leadership.  I was not impressed with the con's organizer- she wasn't eloquent or organized at all.  Part of it was beyond her control- the bad traffic made the band late by over two hours.  But I actually interviewed her for more details on the con on an internet radio show a few weeks ago and she was not doing a good job of explaining herself or the goals of the con other than "It's family friendly."
  • All attendees who did make it were adult, defeating the purpose for a steampunk family-friendly event.  
  • Hated the venue- felt it was too far out in the boonies (but at the same time one would be hard pressed to find a "nicer" venue and only charge $7 for people to attend.)
  • Not advertised well at all- seems like the word only got out to Ren Faire vendors.
With some better advertising and organization this con might be able to grow... might.  And there are people in Pittsburgh willing to take such a job on.  Heck, if the Airship Pirate Days staff had reached out to the Steel City Steam Society at all we would have gladly promoted- and we offered our services for next year.  But the offer wasn't met with much enthusiasm.  Maybe we'll try again in a few months.

As for me, I had a good time hanging out with friends, looking at goods, and talking to the vendors for the most part.  My outfit was more conservative as I was slatted to read a story to kids that never came, topped with a Black Hearts corset as I was representing the Black Hearts table:

Yours truly with George Kosana, the Sheriff from "Night of the Living Dead"
I also spent time vending goods with several friends from both Black Hearts and my sewing group:

House of Broken Needles table
House of Broken Needles table
House of Broken Needles table
Bustle pads
House of Broken Needles table
House of Broken Needles table
"Ice Queen" Faerie Wings
My contribution to the House of Broken Needles table

"Tinkerbell" Faerie Wings
My contribution to the House of Broken Needles table
"Firebird" Faerie Wings
My contribution to the House of Broken Needles table
House of Broken Needles table

Overall it was a good time, but the event itself needs to take a serious look at its mission and its marketing before considering another go at it.  The second day of the con had few traffic issues and yet suffered less attendance than the first day.

A group photo of The Steel City Steam Society:

1 comment:

  1. What gorgeous costumes! The pickpocket one is so awesome! What a wonderful idea!

    We're still pretty new to the idea of separate steam themed events around here, although there are quite a lot of steampunk people. I hope we will have more in the future, especially daytime events where we can really chat and get to know each other. The main one is a sort of show, so you don't get to chat much. I tried to organise one a while back and it failed, but now that I know more people, maybe I will get something going in the future.I'd really like us to have a big steamcon. there's one next year in another state, and then hopefully it will come to Sydney in 2014.

    You look fantastic, and it's great to see everyone in costumes!