Costume-Con 27 Convention Report
This weekend, my photographer and I attended Costume-Con 27 at the Crowne Plaza Baltimore-North hotel in Maryland. Even though this was a small convention (attendance was around 500), we had a really wonderful time! The Costume-Con 27 organizers made a lot of great decisions during the planning and organization process, and that paid off when it was time to actually have the con.
Now, let me just preface the rest of this by saying that Costume-Con changes locations yearly, so our experience may not be the same as someone who attended Costume-Con 26, or the upcoming Costume-Con 28. But, since the con is coming up on its 30th year, I imagine people keep coming back for a good reason. I think our positive experience is fairly indicative of the con as a whole.
One of the first things we noticed and appreciated was that Costume-Con 27 had not outgrown its venue (as so many conventions have). The hotel had ample (and free) parking. The hallways were nice and large, and you never felt cramped trying to walk down them. The vendors rooms were organized so that narrow aisles were completely avoided, and there was plenty of room to look at the vendors’ wears and not have to elbow your way through.
Each of the rooms for panels was an appropriate size, and had plenty of chairs. The panels were often full, but no one had to be turned away at the door for capacity reasons. The workshops had even more space to work with, and some of the conference rooms actually went unused (which means there was room to expand, if needed). Other benefits to this location included free water provided by the hotel, cool air conditioning (important if running around in 18th century garb), free WiFi internet, reasonably priced concessions (hot dogs, hamburgers and the like), and a nice hotel support staff.
The convention organizers really had their act together. Registration/badge pick up was quick and painless. All of the panels that needed technology had support from the con (and the technology all WORKED). There were drop cloths provided for picture taking purposes. The panelists were all knowledgeable and well prepared. There was a lot of variety in panel and workshop options. The con was usually running 4 to 5 different panels/workshops at a time, so there were ample choices. For the Masquerades, the con actually had full technical rehearsals and pre-judging. This is a well oiled machine, and as an attendee, it was absolutely appreciated. There was also a really nice con suite, filled with a lot of different food, snack, and drink options.
What really makes Costume-Con unique (aside from being one of the most well run cons I’ve ever attended), is the content. Each panel was incredibly informative and practical. My photographer attended a convention about costume and prop lighting (which had actual demonstrations) and one on creating and editing audio for Masquerade presentations. We both attended one on corsets throughout history, one on historical movie costuming, and one about sharing your costumes online. I attended panels on cosplay and how a Simplicity pattern gets made from start to finish. There were also some really cool workshops, which taught attendees about everything from Jacobean Crewel embroidery, to Victorian hairpiece creation, and costume dyeing.
If you are a costumer, this really is a convention you should try and attend. Costume-Con is a great niche con, and it is completely tailored to costumers and cosplayers. If you have any interest in meeting fellow costumers, learning new skills on-site, and being involved in some incredible costume Masquerades, then you should absolutely plan to attend Costume-Con 28 (Milwaukee)!