For anyone interested in adding a new Midwestern convention to their summer lineup, Glass City Con is worth checking out. Hosted at the newly renovated SeaGate Convention Center in Toledo, Ohio, the venue has a downtown location with great access to affordable parking garages, and its spacious halls provide a comfortable space for anime fans of all ages to come together and have fun.
This weekend I had the honor of serving as a press member for Hype Crew Cosplay, a northeastern Ohio group known for its cosplay photography and music videos. Though we were only able to attend Glass City Con on Saturday (it ran until Sunday), our experience gave us a great taste of what the convention had to offer. Compared to the nearby Colossalcon, which typically kicks off the season, Glass City Con takes place during mid-July and serves as a much-needed boost during the summer slump. It may be on the smaller side, with only 1,800 projected attendees for this year, but it made up for its size in a number of ways.
A full schedule of panels. With nine locations available to host panels, Glass City Con took advantage of its space. Events were scheduled back-to-back in nearly every room, offering attendees many opportunities to discuss their favorite fandoms or learn something new. The convention also hosted a variety of anime screenings and musical performances, which created a relaxing environment for those tired of walking around. A favorite performing group of mine was The Harp Twins, whose concert was chocked full of nerd culture cover songs and fun dialogue before each tune.
A gigantic game room. One of my favorite things about Glass City Con is its impressive game room, and this year was no exception. The convention’s game room is at least twice the size of the one at Ohayocon, and it caters to a wider variety of gamers. The room is divided into sections, each of which features a different type of gaming. On the left side, rows of long tables are perfect for playing card games or D&D with friends, and the back of the room has dozens of dance and rhythm games. On the right is a foam fighting court, something I have never seen at another convention. There are clubs around the country dedicated to this popular sport, so it’s a smart move to incorporate it into a convention!
Interesting backdrops for photoshoots. Located in the middle of a city, Glass City Con is lacking when it comes to natural scenery. The convention staff was aware of this shortcoming, so they went out of their way to set up designated areas with props and backgrounds for cosplay photography. One backdrop was simply a white sheet, but decorating it with twinkling lights produced a dreamlike atmosphere that reminded me of prom. Another location featured a beautiful wrought iron gate that was draped with purple flowers, which would have been perfect if not for the cars cruising by in the background.
While the convention had many highlights, there were also some problems. Food options were scarce, since only one concession stand was open in the convention center. This may have been improved by opening the concession stand in the game room and allowing attendees to use the seating in there for dining, but I understand not wanting to risk the safety of expensive electronics. Some convention goers were also confused about the lack of maps and had trouble finding certain rooms, but each space was well marked and easy to locate after learning the convention center’s layout.
Even with these shortcomings, this year’s Glass City Con featured some considerable improvements from the convention in 2016. Large sections of the convention center were blocked off due to construction last year, so having more room to spread out made the experience feel much more comfortable. The vendors in the dealer’s room also had more diverse merchandise, which made it easier to find something from a particular fandom. Last but not least, the masquerade was organized better and had a speedier deliberation time.
Overall, Glass City Con is a great little getaway. 2017 was the current convention staff’s last time in charge, and I absolutely appreciate everything they have done in the past seven years. I look forward to seeing what the new staff has to offer, however, and I have faith that future Glass City Cons will only continue to improve!