Good afternoon everyone! My sister and I were at Mechacon in New Orleans from Thursday through Sunday. They had moved venues from the Hilton Riverside hotel to the Hyatt Regency this year, which wasn't the best decision they could have made.
While the Hilton hotel was too small after so many years of growing attendance, the Hyatt was too large. I'm not sure who designed the Hyatt, but it is a convoluted mess. While I like the hotel rooms being designed around an atrium (it gives you the peace of mind of not hearing people outside your room at midnight like it would in a normal hotel with hallways), the first through third floors were a maze built around sculptural columns and walls.
My sister and I made the mistake of eating at Vitascope in the hotel on the first night and spent $50 on two burgers and an appetizer. All the other restaurants in the hotel were expensive and the same went for any food in the hotel shops. Even the Starbucks was charging an extra two dollars on Frappuccinos.
The next morning we took a walk over to Willa Jean's bakery and restaurant for breakfast.
O_o".........so delicious!!!! I had a sausage biscuit with an egg on top and pimento cheese. I wasn't a fan of the pimento cheese, but the sausage and egg were fantastic with the biscuit, which was soft and flaky in the middle and chewy on the outside.
Our first day at the convention was an odd experience compared to the previous years we had been there. The dynamic of the audience had changed completely. People we had been used to seeing every year weren't there. I saw one guy I remembered from last year (he had bought my bunny sundae amigurumi last year), but I didn't recognize anyone else.
The Mechacon staff decided this year that they would combine the artist's alley and the dealers' room to give the feeling of a 'bazaar,' which you think would have been a great idea, but it was a death knell for the artists. People were walking right past the artist tables to head towards the dealers' room.
The hall that they had the artists and dealers in had the WORST lighting I have ever seen! The artists side of the hall had a lower ceiling, which meant that anyone who had tall displays were cutting their lighting off on their booth. The overhead A/C pipes and ducts were blocking light in certain areas.
The staff ended up moving tables over to help the artists in the dark sections get a little light, but that put other booths in semi-darkness. The better idea would have been to move the artists in the dark to unoccupied tables because there were quite a few artists that didn't show.
Another problem with the room was the A/C. It was barely working on Thursday when we came by to set up our booth....by Friday morning it was COLD!!! Extremely cold......my sister never complains about the cold and she was freezing. We had several customers complain about the cold, but what could you do. The hotel was trying to compensate for the fact that there were hundreds of people milling around the room.
After an bizarre day, we packed up our merchandise and headed to our hotel room. Which took about 15 minutes. You wouldn't have thought it would take that long, but the Hyatt decided they wanted to have fancy elevators, which you operated with a dial pad. Which sounds fantastic, but it isn't practical for a convention crowd.
When you put in the floor you were going to, the dial pad would say which elevator you needed to go to.....like car A or D or F, etc. Multiple floors could be using the same car.
Downside to that fancy technology, you can't randomly get on an elevator and go to the floor you wanted because guess what?!?!? there are no buttons on the inside of the car expect for opening and closing the door and the emergency call button.
There were so many people trying to use the elevators that the hotel staff had to lead groups of people to the service elevators........it's enough to drive you insane.
I felt sorry for the staff of the hotel and any guests in the hotel that weren't connected to the convention.
For dinner we found Company Burger, which was on the same block as Willa Jean's. It is ranked in the top 30 burger joints in the US. Definitely worth the visit!!!
Saturday morning we were back at Willa Jean's again :) I had a biscuit with blueberry jam and a bowl of cheese grits.........I could live at this restaurant!!!!
Downside of the day, I came down with allergies.....which I think might have been the down pillows in our hotel room. We made a stop by the CVS store to get Kleenex and some Nyquil, which seems to be the only medicine that seems to get my nose to stop itching and sneezing.
By Sunday we were ready to leave the convention. While our total sales weren't bad, they weren't the best we've ever had either.
I blame that on two things:
1) The choice of venue which is across from the superdome and isn't in a tourist part of town like the Hilton Riverside. While the convention sold out of Saturday passes, I still think they lost regular attendees because they weren't in a nice area or touristy part of town.
2) The staff's silly decision to combine the dealers' room and the artist's alley. That doesn't give a chance for the artists to make any sales if people pass your table to get to the other side of the room.
We packed up early at 2pm and left the hotel.....we had to pay $70 for parking, which is absolutely ridiculous, but the hotel doesn't have its own garage so we had to use the parking garage that connects to the hotel by elevator.
We headed to our home away from home when we visit New Orleans, Sucre on Magazine Street.
I had their doberge cake, which had an almond joconde cake with caramel and chocolate and topped with a macaron (I think the flavor was chocolate and peanut butter, but I wasn't sure). My sister had her usual C3 sundae and we shared their blackberry/lemon mousse.
Overall, we had a good time despite the oddness of the convention. We had fun talking to the vendors on either side of us. Two guys from Louisiana who drew traditional comic art and a couple from Tennessee who made shadow box artworks and clocks with hand drawn and colored backgrounds.
I came away with some goodies. You know my love of bags......I use them for my crochet or cross stitch projects. I bought several bags from Melissa H Francis (the Hogwarts, Final Fantasy, and sushi bags) and three bookmarks. I bought a bag from the couple beside us which has a lovely futuristic landscape on it with a building in a tree).
I bought the last two books in the Beast of Birmingham series by T.S. Barnett. I had bought the first one last year and quite enjoyed it. I was glad she was able to make it to the convention this year so I could get the last two books :)
My sister bought me two brooches to add to my collection. A purple cabochon with a Venetian carnival mask underneath and a 'Shade' umbrella enamel pin.
I won the Manga Man book from the New Orleans Public Library. They had a fan table in the artist's alley and every hour they had a contest where you could present your library card (regardless of where you were from) and you could spin their prize wheel. I had the choice of an audio book or a the Manga Man book. I chose the book because audio books can be iffy depending on who is narrating.
My sister and I won't participate any conventions next year unless I do something local with my friend Kristina in order to sell the last of my amigurumis.
I find that I like making things for myself or friends as gifts more so than continuously making amis to sell at conventions. It is more rewarding and satisfying :)
Thanks for sharing in our bizarre adventure.
Until next time ^____^