It's time to write about Okamicon, the new con in Sundsvall that was held on 9-11 March and which had marketed itself as being LGBT embracing. Don't get me wrong, pretty much all cons are LGBT-friendly (as it feels like a majority of congoers fit into that spectrum in one way or another), but Okamicon had it visible on their website and *prepare for it* ON THEIR MASCOT DOGGO. ♥
I'm not gonna lie, despite what my opinions about the con might or might not be I must admit that I am in love with their mascot and it's easily my favorite con mascot now and forever, period. I just love the representation of the different pride flags as the wolf's earrings and the design overall is just to my liking.
Truth be told, part of the reason I even went to the con was because I loved the mascot so much, lmao. #fanboynumberone
I'm gonna open up my wordy treasure chest and let's get to the summary!
Please note that the photographs have varying photo quality (aka light conditions) and that's simply because I didn't have a chance to take all photos during daylight hours as I was working a majority of my time there.
|Okamicon banner at the entrance.|
I pack all the cat stuff, my con stuff and finish whatever morning preparations I usually do and headed into the car. I got a ride to Carina's place and my cats stayed there over the weekend while Sacchan and her friend came to take care of them. I waited for Carina's daughters to get ready and then we drove southwards to Sundsvall.
I need to mention that a bit less than a week before the con I had still not received any kind of working time schedule and this deeply worried me. I knew that I was accepted into the entrance team but nothing more. I had sent a message to my team leader, asking about my work hours (twice, to boot) but hadn't received a reply and it had been days – and the con inched closer and closer. I found this really weird and unprofessional because, earlier, he had replied on a timely manner but now that the con was extremely close the communication had dropped dead. Nothing. Nada. Dead.
Needless to say, while I was sitting in the car driving 600+ kilometers from home I started to feel anxious. "What if I got there and they had actually cancelled my shifts? What if..." Driving from so far away and not even knowing your goddamn working hours was a stressful combination – what if we drove all that way for nothing?
I got desperate enough to write a public message on Okamicon's Facebook page and that's when I finally got a reply. Except not from my team leader but from another con worker. Thankfully I knew him from another con and he said that he would act as the middle-man between me and my leader as seemingly my leader was really busy right now.
We talked about the situation and he said that he'd send me the work shift hours. We had some issues with getting it to work as my phone couldn't open the files at first, but we found a way and... I was about ready to flip my shit when I saw which shifts I had been assigned.
I HAD THE VERY FIRST SHIFT ON FRIDAY AND THE VERY LAST SHIFT ON SUNDAY?! ME, THE PERSON WHO PROBABLY HAS THE FARTHEST TRAVEL DISTANCE BETWEEN SUNDSVALL AND HOME. How the fuck did they think when they wrote this? >_>
Okay, I appreciate that they tried to give me (and possibly everyone else) free time during the activities that we wanted to attend but... they're missing one tiny but crucial detail – I STILL LIVE 600+ KILOMETERS AWAY AND I NEED TO GET BACK HOME EARLY ON SUNDAY MORNING BECAUSE THE DRIVE BACK TAKES APPROX. 7 HOURS AND I HAVE SCHOOL ON MONDAY TO WHICH I HAVE TO WAKE UP EARLIER THAN A CHICKEN HAS TIME TO FART. I CAN'T WORK ON SUNDAY UNTIL FREAKING 17:00.
Fun part? Because I didn't know my working schedule, before the departure day, we couldn't plan on how early we'd have to leave so that I would surely be there on time for when my shift starts. We knew that the con opened 17:00 but we had no idea who'd work the first pass and thus we didn't aim to be there exactly when the doors opened. Also, there was a traffic accident and stuff and so the trip took a bit longer than usual anyway – I remember when there was 15 min left to the opening (and my shift, which I had now been made aware of) we were still in like Härnösand or something...
So yeah, very professional to give someone who lives 7+ hours away the first shift of the day and inform about it late as shit, aka on the afternoon OF THE ACTUAL CON DAY. Halleluja. -.-
Okay, enough salt for now.
We eventually got to Sundsvall, where we struggled to find our hotel (more like hostel) and there we quickly left our belongings before heading to the con. I was really tired and drained at this point and I think, most of all, I just wanted to eat and go sleep.
|We had room number 112. Send help pls.|
Amidst this mess there was a positive thing too; I heard that my shifts had been completely scrapped because the Okamicon organizers had deemed that the second entrance (where I was supposed to work) was pointless to keep and so they closed it. This in turn meant that I could personally jump in and choose what working times I wanted on the first entrance – holy frick my salvation!
|Okamicon entrance. It was held in Centrumvillan, some sort of school building|
me thinks, not 100% sure.
EDIT: I got it confirmed that he didn't, in fact, have any phone network on the train, which explains things.
|Inner entrance doors. Notice the doggos. Those were plastered|
all over the place, it was hilarious.
Also, I heard that when the opening hour was closing in that some con workers just stood there doing nothing when there was a lot of stuff left to do. Now there could be all kinds of reasons for that so I won't say anything more about it since I don't know the details. Another thing I happened to hear was that some stuff that the con had ordered had not yet arrived on Friday and that also contributed to the chaotic feeling.
|The con ticket was super cute with a galaxy color theme!|
|My pink weeb workshirt. :))|
|The back was better tbh.|
(yes, the photo is taken on a mirror but is flipped)
Saturday came. I went to eat hotel breakfast, which had the smallest variety I've ever seen but oh well, there was enough good stuff to get me filled and content.
Back in the hotel room I started attaching my shiny Mightyena gijinka's ears to the wig. I had literally sewn the ears in a hurry the day before the con and had some problems trying to attach them to the wig. After a lot of twisting and turning I managed to get them to stay on with the help of safety pins (I also tried handsewing them on but it didn't work).
My work shift would start at 12:00 and I got a ride from this same wonderful person who drove me to the hostel yesterday night when Carina couldn't. He arrived a bit late but everything went okay anyway and I jumped straight into my working shift. The con felt a bit more collected now and things seemed to run decently. I was working until 16:00 but I had permission to go and snap some photos, while the sunlight was still going strong, and so I did.
It was really chill to work at the entrance. Main tasks were greeting people, checking that everyone had con bands on their wrists (aka paid to get in) and check that the metal piece keeping the band secured wasn't loose. We also of course sold and scanned in tickets, watched so that no drugged or suspicious people etc came in and helped opening the doors for those who had their hands full and such.
Most of the time it was slightly boring (I felt a bit abundant as well, three people working at the same time felt a bit overkill on such a small con) as you were stuck sitting in the same place for hours on end, but that's a pretty obvious part of the job as you kind of double as a gateguard, lol. I must mention though that I was a bit disappointed that there weren't any candies for us entrance worker; we were kinda promised that on the online application lol, "come work here and get sweets!".
Also, one thing we noticed was that seemingly Okamicon had forgotten to inform that they had hired Centrumvillan for the whole weekend and that all other activites were cancelled for said weekend – we had several youths walking in and expecting there to be some sort of "fritidsgården" activity but we had to turn them around and explain that no, there is no such thing this weekend as Okamicon is here. It got a bit tiresome after a while. How come it had not been announced in advance?
|Okamicon seen from the entrance.|
|Entrance view but from a different direction. The green|
area is the cafeteria.
|Sloth cafe. (on Saturday they sold|
alcohol-free drinks, shame those weren't
available with food tickets, fml. :C)
And while we are on the food talk I must admit that there was something that bothered me with Okamicon's menu. While applying to work at the con we all had to fill in if we had any (food) allergies and I had mentioned ham in there – not because I'm straight-up allergic but because I avoid it on a high scale because the consistency and taste of a majority of pork products makes me gag. Okay, so when I got to actually order something I must admit that I felt let down that there were so few options... and none were ham-free or had it compensated with something else (any other meat, anyone?). I mean, Skecon last year had a myriad of Billy's pan pizza flavors (incl. Gorby's) but Okamicon only had *drumroll* the original one. The exact one that I can't eat to save my life.
Okay, so no Billy's then. My other choice was toast. Toast with ham and cheese and grill spice, if wanted. You could get vegan version and such but there was nothing to make up for the ham if you opted out of it. No ham just meant a toast with cheese and possible grill spice, nothing else. I'm sorry but that's so poor that even a poorfag like me feels disappointed. *headdesk* It wouldn't have been hard to have at least another option like chicken or literally anything else, just ~something~ for us that can't stand eating pork. Tuna would have been godtier, just saying.
Felt pointless to mention special diets in the first place when applying and then have it not accounted for. Blah.
|Literally what I lived on for two days. Toast with cheese. |
(except for candies and hotel breakfast)
There was little merchandise to buy and I'm not sure if there even was an Artist's Alley at all? Correct me if I'm wrong but I can't remember seeing it.
|Dealer's hall items. There ain't no con without Pocky and Ramune.|
|Second-hand video games and stuff.|
|Some kind of activity room...?|
|There was stuff to do if you got bored.|
While I was there I heard three guys singing together We are Number One and it was fekkin' glorious. Possibly the best part of the whole con. x)
|Shitty photo but whatevs, proof at least|
that I wore shiny Mightyena.
While in costume I had a group of really young kids asking me if those lenses were my real eyes. I just said that no, of course not.
|No con without drawn memes somewhere.|
|Chess and whatever-that-colorful-one-is.|
|Stairs leading downstairs.|
|Close-up on the cool video game sign and the tournament list.|
|Video game room.|
|Video game room.|
|The Harry Potter themed crafts and chill room.|
This means that I didn't go to any activities. I did consider the cosplay competition at first but I quickly scrapped the idea when it dawned on me that it starts super late on 22:00. I don't understand why the heck you'd put the main program of the con on such a late hour? I've seen some other cons do it as well (looking at you, Närcon) and I'm sitting here like "why the actual fuck?", lmao. The younger audience will probably leave to sleep before that and oldies like me will be too tired at that point anyway. I just don't understand why cosplay competitions can't be held on like the early evening or such? Would make a lot more sense. Heck, if I participated in the competition I would be too tired to even put on the cosplay so late and, if I had worn it since the con day began, then both me and my costume would look like a greasy potato once the competition finally got around. I guess it works for some people but for me it's just a major turn-off when I see that the cosplay competition runs until midnight. Just no.
|Okamicon posters galore.|
|The door leads to the cosplay workshop.|
|Cosplay costumes on display.|
|Okamicon general view.|
|The LGBT promotion booth.|
|I was surprised to see the sleeping accommodation in the|
con building?! Convenient (assuming it's not noisy).
Okamicon or Okamehcon?
I have really mixed feelings about this con, to be honest. There were many issues of varying degrees but things did, on the bigger scale, work sufficiently enough to make the whole experience feel like a con experience and not just a clusterfuck with brightly colored people in it. A lot of the con feel came from the funny decorations (doggos everywhere) and the kind people. Also, I am fully aware that this was the first Okamicon and thus some degree of error is to be expected and forgiven but, tbh, I've been to a lot of other (then) small first-time cons that did things better.
It was a slow-paced and relaxed "hang with your friends" type of con and I went in with low to average expectations – I did expect it to be bigger than the cons in the north and that's simply because Sundsvall is about half-way in Sweden and so I thought it could attract more visitors. I was disappointed by a lot of stuff but I would still say that I want to see how Okamicon will evolve and thus I would attend it a second time. It was decent – nothing extraordinary but not a complete flop either. There is a lot of room for improvements and I'm pretty sure that the organizers are already aware of what to do differently for next time.
One thing that I've forgot to mention, and which did bother me, was that there seemed to be no printed activity schedules or such anywhere – so the only way to know what was happening, when and where was to keep religiously checking Okamicon's website and/or social media. I also heard that it was pretty pointless anyway because seemingly a lot of the planned activities were moved, cancelled etc.
I feel like I've come to expect activity schedules to be visible somewhere at the con and thus the lack of any gave the false feeling of there actually not being anything going on. Okay, there were a few papers taped here and there informing about a single activity but there weren't many of them... and one of them was placed in a dangerous place. -.- I mean really, put a sign on one of the stair steps so that you trip on the stairs while trying to read it as you go up? I almost faceplanted thanks to that dumbass sign; whoever thought it was a good idea to place it there deserves a cactus up their ass. :)
tl;dr – Okamicon faced some major hiccups but it was still somehow enjoyable enough to deserve a second chance from me (aka I would go there again), possibly because it was powered by cute shibes and loafbutt corgis being plastered all over the place.
Thanks for reading and I promise, no hard feelings despite how savage I might have sounded. x) This is definitely not to be taken as a "I hate Okamicon" post!! I will likely return if Okamicon is arranged again.
I probably forgot to write something but oh well.
~ Shiro Samurai out.