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Katsucon 2017

Katsucon 2017



Katsucon was held February 17-19, 2017 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in
National Harbor, MD



Location


katsucon_170218_160518_3825.jpg?m=148798Katsucon has found a home at the Gaylord since 2010 and makes great use of the venue year after year. I've sung the praises of the location for many years now. It's easy and convenient to get to. There's a large number of food venues nearby with only a short to medium walk, only sometimes hampered by cold winds coming off the river. There's plenty of hotels to choose from. The on-site Gaylord hotel has great rooms but the hotels just across the street tend to be less crowded, have more amenities, and cost a bit less, too. The convention center itself is well put together with plenty of meeting spaces and open spaces to allow the easy flow of traffic -- with the exception of the "gazebo level" which is part of the hotel, anyway. The areas around the hotel lobby are filled with light and even if you've only seen pictures, you know why Katsucon is a big destination for cosplayers in particular.

Food Options



katsucon_170217_164334_3068.jpgIn recent years the hotel itself has moved away from its standard corporate convention offerings (usually focused on upper-middle class executives with per diem accounts) and more towards services appealing to the fans who visit. Katsucon has merged its Maid Cafe experience together with the hotel facilities quite successfully. The lobby restaurant partitions for certain hours into a regular buffet (which is fairly good) and a "maid cafe" where in addition to light snacks guests can partake in the cafe activities like playing games or answering jokes. There tends to be a line for the maid cafe so long as it's open so it seems to be a success.

katsucon_170218_113655_3384.jpg?m=149054Even outside the maid cafe hours the restaurant has shifted towards a buffet style offering. In the early years it was a standard menu restaurant with prices generally outside the comfort zone of many convention attendees. Contrast that to this year, where it was a buffet ($21 if I remember correctly, and worth the price before you even take into account the convenience) with many of the deserts fashioned in the appearance of sushi or video game items. As another contrast to the first few years, many affordable restaurants have popped up in the National Harbor along side the more expensive (and in some cases tourist trap) options.

Programming



As in years past Katsucon puts on a good AMV contest and costume contest. They're highlights of the event and worth considering going to. But there are plenty of other activities, too, and not just fan and guest panels. The rise of internet commerce has taken a lot of the thrill out of exploring a dealer's hall for uncommon or hard-to-find merchandise. But the artists' alley folks have picked up the slack and offer a lot of unique, often hand-made, items that really are unique. Katsucon dedicates a very large space to dealers and artists and most booths are easily accessible thanks to wider aisles than I commonly see elsewhere.

katsucon_170217_152041_2890.jpgThis year the weather was particularly nice with temperatures rising into the 70s all weekend. For many Katsucon represents a chance to meet and relax with fellow fans and the relaxed programming schedule (and this year, weather) drew a lot of people out onto the patios and grassy knolls along side the river. Many attendees ventured out into the dock area and further along the riverbanks. The nice weather and nice location also brought out a lot of non-attendees who were out for a walk, as well. The many cosplayers who ventured out to get photos were a bit of a surprise attraction for those just on a stroll. Much as Baltimore locals grew to expect people in costume during the late summer, I think National Harbor locals have come to expect the same at the end of winter.

For me, this was a great opportunity to get photos and I probably broke some personal record -- at least for Katsucon or another 3-day convention. I took just shy of 2000 photos and only did two major photo shoots. Cosplay photography has become pretty hectic with a lot of prosumer-level photographers working with semi-professional costumers showing off their work. But for a lot of people cosplay is still all about fun and it's still a good way to meet new friends.

Katsucon will return in 2018, February 16th-18th, in the same location.

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