February 19, 2012

Review of SheVaCon 20

I’m going to try something new for 2012.  I’m going to review the conventions I attend, with an eye to how they were organized.   I’m starting with SheVaCon 20, because, well, that was my first con of the year.

SheVaCon was in Roanoke, VA.  This year, the con was held at the Hotel Roanoke (Double Tree by Hilton) on February 17-19. 
The Good
The hotel gets placed on both the good and bad list.  The hotel is, frankly, the most beautiful con hotel I’ve ever seen.  The layout of the consite is spread over 2 floors, allowing for lots of space for fans to hang out.  The panel rooms are spacious with good acoustics. 
The greatest feature of the hotel, however, is the main lobby of the hotel.  It has an old world feel, with a really nice fireplace on one end.
The dealer room was large and had a nice variety of dealers.
The art show had some very nice art, but the best feature was the kids track portion of the art show.  The con had some tables set up with coloring books and crayons/markers for the kids.  Once the kids were finished coloring, the art show staff would offer to hang the kids’ artwork on a spare art panel they had set up.  This was a really nice touch.
The guest list was interesting, covering Lit, Media, Art, Music, and Costuming.
Programming was typical for a southern con.  I’m going to count this as “good," because I like traditional programming.
Possible Areas of Improvement (The Bad)
I have to list this one first, because it happened to my wife.  The con misspelled her last name in the program book and on her badge.  This is not acceptable when they have her bio, and her web address, they can refer to if they want to check the spelling.  I’d suggest the ConCom proofread the program.
This next thing is simply a pet peeve of mine…  the names on the badges were small and hard to read.  Likewise, it was hard to distinguish the guests from everyone else.  (See my earlier blog post.)
As I stated earlier, the hotel was beautiful, it was also expensive for a con hotel in this area.  Sleeping rooms started at $125, and went up based on the number of occupants.  This actually prevented us from coming to the con on Thursday night.
Gaming was very limited, with tables only being set up in the prefunction area.   I also didn’t see any gaming guests on the website.  With the amount of space the con had at its disposal, they probably should consider dedicating better space to gaming.
Finally, the con sent Timothy Zahn to an off-site event for 2-3 hours on Friday evening.  I’m guessing they had hoped to generate some advertising for the con, but all it really seemed to do was deny access to Zahn, during the con, to the members who had already paid to be there.
Final Rating
I can only give the con 3.5 out of 5 stars as there weren’t enough great things about the con to offset the negatives (primarily the cost).  The con wasn’t bad, but there wasn’t much at the con to make me want to go back.

Okay, that’s it.  Feel to ask questions if there is something I didn’t cover.


  1. Yeah, that's a little pricey for the rooms; I'm generally shy about paying that for a con I haven't been to before.

  2. It's especially high if they were adding on for each person staying in the room. If it had been $125 for up to four people, that would have been a better price, though still a little high for that area. Part of it was it being a Doubletree, which is a higher end hotel than most, I think.

    1. The price of $125 was for two people. It went up by $10 for each additional person (up to 4 total people).