"Jenny and I drove straight through starting very early on Friday morning. It was a pleasant drive and we didn't encounter any delays until we reached Dallas proper. On the way down, we stopped at one of the "Ozarkland" rest area/truck stop/tourist locations, and I inquired about any damaged Porcelain dolls that we might acquire for their clothing. I got two 16" dolls and an outfit for a larger doll for a total of $10. One of the dolls was a purple fairy, with jointed shoulders and legs; she was a quality doll and her outfit was gorgeous.
Once we hit Dallas, we were in the middle of rush hour traffic, so that slowed us down a bit. We arrived on-site around 7ish. Many of the parking lots for the outlying hotels were already crammed full of convention folks. Fortunately, I was able to get a spot in the Fairfield parking lot where we were staying. The Fairfield is an excellent hotel to stay in for this event. It is very close, has a pool, and the staff is extra friendly and helpful. It's also a lovely hotel with comfortable beds. We were adjacent to the Denny's restaurant, but they were understaffed and overworked all weekend. The main hotel is stunningly gorgeous. I'd be tempted to stay there the next time I visit Dallas simply to experience the hotel (when there's not 20,000 people in it.) It has an asian theme, with displays of Indian, Japanese and Chinese art, architecture, and styling. The atrium had a mall of stores and eateries, though once again they were easily overwhelmed by the crowd.
Doll A-Kon had its own space in the "Plum Blossom" rooms. It was right off of the beautiful atrium with seating nearby so you could sit and socialize with other doll people in between programming events. The programming was excellent. Many hands-on workshops and engaging discussions, plus two "socials" each day; one for breakfast and one at the end of the night. The socials were loads of fun, with people bringing in their dolls and showing them off. There were door prizes and sometimes swap meets at the socials. The second room housed the special Doll-A-Kon Marketplace, a small dealer's room of BJD-oriented vendors. I'd say they had about as many dealers as we did, in much smaller space. Mint on Card was there, as was The Doll Peddler, Sweet Dolls, and some artisans.
There were some wonderful guests, including DeAnne Stephanic (VampireAngel13), and it was great to be supporting one of our local people! Eileen Bowen was a special guest, too, and she constantly told everyone how AWESOME the St. Louis convention is and how they REALLY needed to go. She pimped us hard! WE LOVE YOU, SILVERBEAM!!! Also, Don Kinney of Bishonen House was there, and he was charming and engaging and an excellent speaker. Jenny got to see the whole resin-casting discussion panel, and we agreed to talk to him about becoming a future guest of our convention. He's seriously interested, and I'm going to try to pursue him for our 2015 convention!
Friday we got there and registered and everything just in time to catch the end of the Friday Night social. We handed out flyers and met some lovely doll people (and lovely dolls!) As we were tired, we grabbed a bite to eat and headed back to the hotel room to sleep.
Saturday morning we got some breakfast and I got dressed up for the day. We headed over to the convention center and I went to the tail end of Silverbeam's body blushing panel, and showed off my Octoboy that I got from her at our convention. Anna attended the whole panel, and did some gorgeous work on her new teeny tiny 3D printed critter.
We cruised the marketplace, tried to get some lunch (that took forever) and then decided to check out the artists' alley and dealer's room before the Display Contest got started. We registered our dolls first, then headed over to the Dealers/Artist's Alley area. It's a bit of a hike, but both rooms were absolutely HUGE. We didn't even make it all the way through the dealer's room before we had to head back to put our dolls in the display contest. The Artist's alley was pretty spectacular, though, and I got to say hello to Jeannie Breeden, as well as several authors and artists we know. Back at the Plum Blossom room, we set up our displays. There were two categories, each with two sub-categories. In the "Costume" category, one could display a doll in a completely original costume, or a commissioned/purchased costume. I put Sambuca on display in the purple fairy outfit from the porcelain doll I got on the way down. (See why I told that story?) Jenny displayed Rocky in his Cool Cat emo gear. The second category was "Face-ups/Modification" and you could submit a doll to be considered for its face-up only, or display something in the Modification category if there was body modding or body blushing. I chose to display Crikey the Crocodile for his all-over body blush. They allowed me to display him without clothing because he was anthropomorphic, but I had to sit him down because I didn't have a stand for him. I thought that the white soles of his feet might detract from the display, but then decided that this way everyone could see his original resin color.
Mind you, my plan had been to display in both categories because I like to show off my dolls. I had no designs on the awards, and hadn't even really realized that they had real prizes other than the trophies. I wasn't feeling well, and went back to the hotel to lay down and take off my wig and headpiece, as I had a headache. After a bit of a rest, I saw that I needed to get back to the display contest to retrieve my dolls. I walked over and discovered that I had won an trophy for Crikey! There was also a prize swag bag with clothes, a wig, jewelry, and other fun goodies! Jenny says that they applauded for me when the award was announced, and that my darling little crocodile was a huge hit with everyone. She accepted the award on my behalf and had her photo taken with the trophy for me. She also announced at that time that the St. Louis BJD convention would give away a membership as the door prize at the social that evening. So after putting away our suitcases full of doll stuff (and in my case, changing my outfit) we headed back over for the social and swap-meet. I met a lovely girl and traded with her for a short blonde SD wig, which I wound up giving to mom's Sweet William because it looked great on him. (Sorry, Carmine.) I traded for a pair of MSD boots that hadn't really worked the way I wanted them to, but were perfect for one of her characters who didn't have any shoes.
We chatted up the crowd and mentioned our convention, handed out flyers, and gave away a membership! The young woman who won happened to be the daughter of one of the people who runs Doll-A-Kon, but she was a convention member and won it fair and square and there were no hard feelings about it that I could see.
On Sunday, we cruised the Marketplace again, checked out the programming, including Silverbeam's panel on 3D printing, which she did a really great job on despite the fact that they couldn't get her projector to work.
I did a thing I rarely do; I waited in line for an autograph. Though I must say that it was a friendly, talkative crowd of fun people, so it was less annoying than I expected. I got to meet J. Michael Tatum, Taliesin Jaffe, Caitlin Glass, Amy Howard Wilson (old school!!), and I got to see (but not talk to) Kyle Herbert. Who are all these people? Voice actors for Anime English Dubs. Tatum voices Sebastian for Black Butler (as well as a TON of other stuff.) Jaffe is also a screen actor and was in Explorers, and was heavily involved in all of the Helsing dubs. Amy Howard Wilson was one of the first American voice actors to do voice over work for Japanese anime. Herbert was the voice of teen-aged Goku on Dragonball Z. All of them were charming, engaging, and fun to meet. They were very respectful and friendly to the fans, and stayed extra-long to meet all the people. (I was at the back of the line, so I really appreciated it.)
Meanwhile, Jenny schmoozed with the doll people and had a nice time making new friends. We got on the road later than we intended, but we made it to Tulsa in time to hang out with my awesome cousin, Audrey. (Audrey is part of the team that put together the Tulsa Trek Expo.) Today we drove from Tulsa to St. Louis and other than the rain it was generally pleasant.
Overall, we had a great time. I loved interacting with the doll people and it was really interesting to be a "fly on the wall" and listen to the commentary of everyone. In our home city, we're kind of popular so it's hard to "people watch" but in a new space like this it was great to just listen to the crowd and talk to people. We have some new thoughts to incorporate into our own events locally, and we'll discuss them at upcoming meetings."