A few of us hit up NewBo Con in Cedar Rapids back at the beginning of February. Here's my review of the event as well as my hopes & dreams for next year!
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Well, this post was a little slow in coming to fruition, but I wanted to put together a quick recap & review of NewBo Con 2015 in Cedar Rapids, IA.The convention was held on February 7 at the NewBo City Market in the New Bohemia district of Cedar Rapids. It only ran from 10am-6pm, but in that time saw over 3,500 visitors. This was the first year for this con and, in my opinion, it was a remarkably successful event. There were a lot of things done well – especially considering the whole event was organized by a single person.
I have to say, I was pumped for this event & waiting in anticipation for MONTHS. Like, since it was announced in October (I think that’s when it was?). Going to Wizard World Minneapolis last year was what really jolted me back into obsessing over all these things I love – and even got me thinking more & more about comics in general. I was thrilled to hear that Cedar Rapids was getting its own convention AND that it was free admission, making it easy to convince everyone I knew to at least consider going.
If you can’t sense my enthusiasm about this event, you’re completely blind. So, without further ado, here are some of the highlights from NewBo Con ’15.
*sidenote: I was trying to corral my 4-year old daughter in the morning & my slightly inebriated friends in the afternoon, so I didn’t take any photos. Most of these photos were hijacked from the NewBo Con Facebook page*
NewBo City Market is a great venue – and It was the perfect choice for the first year of this event. NewBo has a huge following of people who visit every single weekend. These non con-goers increased attendance and (I can only assume) sales for the vendors just by letting their curiosity bring them over to the convention side of the market. I think this was an incredibly smart decision on the part of the organizer to tap into a demographic that normally wouldn’t have any interest in attending such an event. Really, it was mutually beneficial because peckish con-goers could just walk across the market to any of the regular (exceptional) vendor locations & get a drink, snack, or a full-blown meal. Top-notch choice for year one.
Unfortunately, the size of the venue was not adequate to support the amount of interest this event generated from convention vendors. There were a total of something like 30 spaces available and 80 interested vendors had to be turned away. That’s huge. I know they’re looking into bigger venues for next year, making the name “NewBo Con” & the totally rad logo now obsolete. Collector’s item. Doneski. I’m just really pulling for the new “Cedar Rapids Comic Con” to be held at our new Convention Center. There are multiple spaces that would be suitable to the event and I just feel like it’s the right place to host the event going forward. Unfortunately, cost could easily affect the likelihood of this happening, as I know the organizers want to keep the event free for the foreseeable future.
Bye, bye, logo </3
The downside with the way this event was organized was that all vendor spaces were first-come, first-serve. I get it. That seems like the right way to do things the first time around. I just feel that we ended up with too little variety in the limited number of vendors that were set up. Don’t get me wrong – the majority of vendors were awesome & their products were well-curated and/or well-crafted. I’m not here to bash on anyone, but I will say that there were a few items for sale that really caused me to raise an eyebrow & I hope there’s some level of screening for next year’s vendors. Here are a few of the stand-outs for me:
I know I’m (incredibly) biased here, but I genuinely feel that Geek City Games had one of the best booths. I could barely walk up to the table at a few points throughout the day due to the crowds gathering around to check out the merch. They had games, collectibles, omnibuses (omnibi?), boxes upon boxes of comics, and even had 2 guest vendors sharing their space. It was really well organized & the displays made everything easy to find. Good work, boys!
A to Z Toys & Collectibles was right next door to Geek City & instantly captured the attention of my husband & friends. They seemed to have a great selection of vintage collectibles, as well as some new items. Now, I know nothing about vintage toys & whatnot, but the boys sure seemed impressed, so I give you a thumbs-up, A to Z Toys & Collectibles!
Candle Light Press. Now, I didn’t get to chat with the guys like I would have liked (again, dude to the drunken state of certain companions) but these guys had it going on ALL. DAY. LONG. scores of people walked up to the booth, chatted, and walked away with mad stacks of comics. I’m gonna need to get my hands on some of those in the near future.
Lastly, 515 Comics seemed like a pretty awesome vendor. I didn’t even glance at his booth until the end of the day & I saw what turns out to be my favorite item I couldn’t buy that day (because he was sold out). It was this glorious shirt, and I am ordering it very, VERY soon.
I also bought this pretty cute steampunk necklace and a Rainbow Dash keychain (for the kiddo) from another vendor, but alas, couldn’t find any information on the shop responsible for such cute tchotchkes. Womp womp.
Overall, I was SO impressed by this event. It was incredibly well-organized and just made me happy to spend my Saturday there. There are clearly a few improvements that could be made for subsequent years, but I’d say for its very first con, Cedar Rapids gets a 10/10.
If you live anywhere in the Midwest (or farther, I’m not here to pigeonhole you) and are looking for a fun, casual convention – check out the Cedar Rapids Comic Con webpage & sign up for email updates so you can come visit in 2016!