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What Happened to Quinni-Con? May 7, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Histories.
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In 2012, a good friend of mine told me about a free fan convention that was going to be held at Quinnipiac University. It was called the Quinni-Con, and focused on anime, cosplay and video games. As a fan who had to spend their late teen years repeatedly traveling to the other side of his country to participate in any fan conventions, a local convention seemed like a pipe dream to me. So my friend and I packed up in my car and drove to the Quinnipiac York Hill Campus.

The inaugural Quinni-Con was being held in the Rocky Top Student Center. The venue not only looked cool, but it had plenty of space for all of the attendees. The cafeteria area was perfect for vendors and an artists’ alley. The high tech classrooms on the second floor were perfect for screening rooms and Q&A panels. There was even a maid cafe in the back which was offering tea and small cakes free of charge. What followed were two days of fandom bliss. We had a blast.

I wasn’t much of an anime fan in my youth, but the person who went with me was the biggest anime fan I know. Because of my lack of anime experience, I was a little confused when deciding which panels we should attend. Thankfully, I did recognize something on the list, Pokémon. Q&A panels for a webseries called Pokémon ‘Bridged were being held throughout the weekend. The panels were being hosted by 1KidsEntertainment and Nowacking, two of the three creators of the series. I used to watch episodes from the early seasons of Pokémon back when they aired on Kids WB!, and Pokémon ‘Bridged took those exact same episodes I remembered and redubbed them with hilarious results. I had such a nostalgic blast watching their series and I became an instant fan! Ironically, my anime friend was not familiar with Pokémon, but I was able to explain it to him well enough for him to understand the panels. We also had a blast attending the Q&A panels hosted by Voice Actress Lisle Wilkerson. She and my friend were fans of some specific animated shows that aired in Japan during the 70s, and they had a spirited discussion about it. Overall, it was a great first year and it looked like it would be an even better second.

Quinni-Con 2013 was even better. Before the con started, I bought my first Nintendo handheld in twenty years, the 3DS XL, and made the decision to get into Pokémon games. OneKids and Nowacking were returning along with a new guest, voice actor/director Chris Cason. Walking onto the York Hill Campus that second year was like stepping into a real-life Pokémon Center.

Yep, that’s what it looked like!

Voice actor and director Chris Cason hosted a few Q&A panels during the day. Some of them were more formal and focused on his work and others were more laid back, where he got to know the attendees at the show.

Chris was a funny guy with a great personality and listening to him talk about what it is like in a recording booth directing people like Briana Garcia was amazing. Overall it was an incredible experience and certainly better than the previous year. The next event could not come soon enough!

Quinni-Con 2014 was held about a month earlier than usual, but it was very welcome. The cherry blossoms were in bloom at the Rocky Top Student Center, making it the perfect photo spot for tons of cosplayers in kimonos. The complete cast of the now named Elite 3 was in attendance for the first time, and they had an all-new episode of Pokémon ‘Bridged to show us. It was great to finally meet xJerry64x. Quinni-Con even held a real-life Pokémon Center panel, where attendees were encouraged to use the time to trade, StreetPass and battle each other with their Nintendo handhelds.

However I would be remiss to say that Quinni-Con was entirely without problems. A quick search of the hashtag #quinnicon on Twitter will bring up posts by a few angry Quinnipiac students resentful of the people hanging out in costumes at the Rocky Top Student Center. Some convention attendees responded kindly, others were not so kind with their responses. By the end of Quinni-Con 2014, the word started to circulate that the organizers wanted to expand the con and started taking ideas from the attendees.

I had previously done video reviews of the convention, so I attended the idea panel. I spoke to them honestly about what I liked about the event and how some panels could be improved in the future. Apparently, some of the people in the panel room were aware of my videos and told me they appreciated them. My favorite bit of advice remains the request to put up something on the projector during the Pokémon Center panel. The organizers loved that idea and said if they couldn’t put their own live Pokémon feed for the projector they would be fine showing a Pokémon Let’s Play on it. I made it clear that overall I thought the con was fantastic the way it was, and part of the reason the con was so great was because it was local and it was free. I begged the higher ups not to move forward with their plans for expansion.

There was no Quinni-Con 2015, even though there were plans for it to happen. The event organizers sent out a mass email to former attendees and stated their expectations for the next convention were grand and required at least another year of planning. I was disheartened to hear that, but I understood their perspective. The reality, it seemed, was worse than I expected.

It turned out new management took over the con. By itself, this is understandable and is actually more common than you think with a student-run convention. Students graduate, and organizations are meant to shift to new student managers each cycle. The problem is new managers may not be as up to the task of running an elaborate event as the previous ones were.

Quinni-Con 2016 was announced, and it would be held off-campus for a fee of $15. The con organizers planned to host the event at a Hotel/Waterpark/Convention Center in Waterbury, CT. While this sounds like a fine place to hold an event on paper it was the worst choice for a venue the organizers could have thought of. Geographically, Waterbury is pretty far away from Quinnipiac University, and getting there requires at least an hour drive on Connecticut highways that are always jammed. The hotel they chose had a two-star rating online, and even worse, it was planning to close the day after the con ended. What incentive did the cleaning crew have to actually sanitize a hotel that could get dirty very easily if they were all about to get fired? The Elite 3 was invited to come, and they were willing to tough it out despite cleanliness concerns, but only if they were booked at another hotel. The con agreed, but it turned out to be all for naught.

Six days before the event was to be held, Quinni-Con 2016 was cancelled in the worst way possible. No official announcement of the event’s cancellation was ever posted on the convention’s official website (which is now defunct) or Twitter feed. The ONLY place on the entire internet that mentioned the event’s cancellation was on their Facebook page…which at the time had a tendency to lock out non-Facebook users from even viewing it.

It’s all quite a shame. In its prime, Quinni-Con was a well run fan event. It brought locals together in a way this part of the country sorely needed. I’ve been a fan of Pokémon ‘Bridged since finding out about the series at the first Quinni-Con and I consider to be a huge contributor to my return to Pokémon fandom. It would be nice to see the event return to the Rocky Top Student Center some day, and when that day comes I’ll be there.

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