May 25, 2023

Kummacon 2023 – Stop, working time!

Hello geeks!

This year's rendition of Kummacon was held this past weekend in Oulu again, during 20-21.5.2023 and yes, this effectively means that I've attended Kummacon back-to-back with no other con inbetween. :'D That's because last year's Kummacon was held so late and this year's was pushed forward to be on the first half of the year! Anyways, as most people probably know by now Kummacon is a small, low threshold anime and literature convention held annually in Oulu and it's one of the few popular culture events with a free entrance.

Let's dive in!

Kummacon host building, aka Oulu's International School.

Kummacon is one of those cons that change host building almost every iteration and where it ends up comes down to things like budget and such. This is the second time (I think?) that it's held in Oulu's international school – last time was back in 2018. And I gotta say that this is one of my favorite locations because of how well-lit it is and it's very close to the train station and centrum as well, which means it's easy to find and to get to and from.

Kummacon info desk. Very visibly pro-LGBTQ+ vibes.

Already by the end of last year's Kummacon I had signed up for to return as a con worker this year. I figured why not as it gives me something fulfilling to do and well, non-profit free events like these need all the extra hands they can get to be able to go around; no people willing to donate their time equals no con and that is big sad. :'( And I knew from last year that Kummacon struggled with last-minute worker cancellations and I have plenty con worker experience under my belt by now so I didn't need to think twice before applying for round two. Except this year I ended up at the Kumma Kahvila (cafeteria) and not as a general con worker.

Entrance viewed from inside.

As I mentioned above Kummacon has been in the international school before and I felt instantly familiar when I stepped in. I think most of the layout were used similarly to 2018 – the Artist's Alley was split in two halves with one half downstairs and the other half upstairs on the second floor. There were quite a lot of artists and some I had not seen before, which is always nice! Sadly I am quite poor at the moment so the only thing I ended up buying at the whole con was a Diluc (Genshin Impact) keychain from one of the sellers upstairs for myself and two other characters as gifts.
Half of Artist's Alley was on the main floor.

And the other half was up the stairs. (sorry no pic)

On Saturday I worked from 13-17 local time at the cafeteria upstairs. We sold some sweet and salty treats like vegan 'härkis' burgers and sandwiches, homebaked buns and peanut butter cookies, coffee, Japanese snacks, homemade 'sima' (a traditional Finnish Easter drink similar to mead) and some few others. 
I gotta admit I was quite nervous at first when I arrived at my work station. I had slept poorly and tried to mask my growing anxiety as good as I could but luckily I was fretting for nothing as it was a pretty chill job and there were never any rushes or massive customer flows. My workmates were also friendly and there were no weird situations that cropped up, except for the obligatory technology hiccups with the card reader refusing to connect with the app and such. But we also took cash so when it did act up there was always a plan B to fall back on. And apparently the card reader hated my phone more than the other phones cuz no one else had it act up as much as I did lol.

Kumma Kahvila looked like this on Sunday.

As I spent the majority of my time at the con behind bars at the cafeteria working I gotta admit that I don't actually have so much to say about the convention itself. I saw some friends briefly but as I was the only one who worked I couldn't join them for some juicy shenanigans and thus I don't have any fun stories to share as, well, nothing out of the ordinary had a chance to happen. So I'm sorry but this summary might come across as a bit more dull than what I usually write. :')
Selfie with Firith! Yes I was in alt casual gear.

I did meet the lovely Firith in some Hatsune Miku inspired setup and we shared our sleeping accomodation as he and I have a mutual friend who so happens to have a study apartment in Oulu where we could crash over the weekend. Saved my ass because yeah, as I said I'm poor right now and on sick leave so the money ain't saying clinkety clink right now.
One of the staple vendors, Manga Cafe.

Some other geeky merch seller.
On Sunday my work shift were from 10-14 and it went by much the same as on Saturday, except a bit calmer still. I have no idea how much leftovers there were as I didn't stay until the closure of the con (I had to leave earlier) but I do assume that whatever were left from the cafeteria were handed out to the Green Room and to con workers to take home. 
Next year I will most likely apply to be a con worker again as I find it quite an important and delightful little side hustle and well, I do appreciate Kummacon staying as a free entrance event and for them to be able to stay that way they need volunteers to make the con happen year after year. :)

The obligatory art wall. Notice the 'poorly drawn Sasuke' meme. xD
I found this year's Kummacon experience to be a pleasant one. I did not attend any panels or programs or the like and spent like 90% of my time at the con working but I don't really feel like I missed out on much either as I'm a very lazy goer on any kind of activities and I'm trying to refrain from buying stuff as I feel like I own so much shit by now that I don't even know what to do with it lol. 
It doesn't take that long to traverse the building and see what the con has to offer and aside from the occasional crowding and the building being packed with people in lines waiting for popular programs to start (like the cosplay competition and cosplay date) then it was easy to navigate and move around in. I did feel some slight annoyance because upstairs there were a few cases when people would randomly sit or just stand next to the stairs for a longer time and clog up the passage, which wasn't that wide to begin with. Maybe there was a lack of chairs to sit on, I'm not sure? I didn't check every corner of the con but I know there were chairs in the same corridor where the Kumma Kirppis (second-hand store) was, although I'll admit I didn't step my foot in there.
Upstairs also had pretty crummy air flow/quality, I felt a bit nauseated several times while working and had to take breaks to go outdoors to get some fresh air; I heard that the windows upstairs couldn't be opened and that was one of the main reasons it was like that – luckily on Sunday someone brought a portable air conditioner to the cafeteria so it was a bit more manageable. Air quality was fine downstairs.

All in all Kummacon is a worthwhile con to visit if you happen to live in the north. It boasts a welcoming and safe atmosphere, a decent amount of activities to keep you entertained and it's just a breath of fun to liven up a dull week. We need to hold on tight to what few cons we have left with free entrance because yeah, I personally believe that low-threshold cons like this are a great way to get new and young hobbyists into the scene – it's a great first step to gauge if it's where you feel a sense of belonging. 

Thanks for reading and stay fresh out there!

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