TODAY'S FEATURE IS BLOG #4012 - I am back from the three day Wizard of Oz convention that was called Winkie Con 50. As mentioned in blog #4011, this would be my first Winkie Con, although it was celebrating its 50th Anniversary!
For the previous twenty-nine years it was held in Asilomar on the Monterey Penisula., which was just too far for me to attend, without more of a comics background to it. I have attended sci-fi cons, anime cons, Xena cons, Quantum Leap cons, etc., but usually limit myself to the Southern California area to travel to.
Oh, and Yes, there are several Oz comic books out there. And more are being produced each year! Here is the link to just a few that I have review blogged in the last seven years of this blog.
Anyways... This year, (and next year!) Winkie Con is going to be located in the Mission Valley area of San Diego, at the Town and Country Resort. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the days it will be held.
So I purchased a membership, and was at all three days and two nights of the con.
So what are my thoughts of this con?
Well... First let me give you a little history of this con. It was started in 1964 at a home in the Los Angeles metro area. Several years later it moved to Yosemite, and then for the last twenty-nine years it was held at Asilomar. The current chair of the club brought the Winkie Con to San Diego for the first time this year, and it will be held again in 2015 at the same location, Town and Country Resort & Convention, in Mission Valley.
Also, this Winkie Con is a member of the International Wizard of Oz Club. That organization's history can be found at this Wikipedia link. That is a good read, which I encourage you to do.
So, knowing that this was a club's convention, and that it had dwindled down in size to less than 100 attendees last year in Asilomar, I didn't know what to expect at this year's convention. I had already attended other conventions at this same Town and Country Resort, (CONdor, CONjecture, and San Diego Comic Fest among others), so I knew what could be done with the conference center area of the facility.
First, the parking.... Excellent parking site! And it was only $4 a day for parking. That is a very great price for metro San Diego area. I drove in and then out at night very smoothly.
Con location in the resort property was the Regency Tower Conference Center area. Just like with the other conventions that I listed above are located in. The Winkie Con did not take the Regency Tower's 9th floor, so there wasn't any directions problems between the Center and the Tower.
The panel / program rooms were utilized very well. The registration was in the Ascot room, which was right by the other rooms that held the panels / programs.
Signage. There were tripods set up for signage, but there was NO use of those tripods. So it was a good thing that there was a map on the last page of the program book. Signage is a MUST for cons in this resort. Especially for a first time con located here.
Speaking of programs... There was a program book... And it was a well written book! It had the schedules of the days / nights activities in the front, with a lot of OZ articles in between that and the last page containing the site map. Very good read, and I still have to spend a few more hours to finish it up!
Programs: Friday's programs were pretty good, and Saturday's programs were fantastic! Sunday's programs were a little 'light' in number, as most of the atttendees seemed to be going to the Hotel del Corando for Sunday Brunch. There is an 'Oz' connection with L. Frank Baum, so I could see the attraction that would make. Since I am a San Diego resident, I didn't go there, but took in the Sunday morning programs instead.
Speaking of Friday... I really enjoyed these programs I took in:
So This Is Your First Winkie Convention! - Which was a very good overview of what to expect of this year's Winkie Con. More conventions should have a welcoming program like this one!
Creating Oz Comics - Coming from a comic book background, I found this program to be of major interest to myself.
Spotlight on William Stout - I have seen him at Comic-Con International before, but found out a lot about him in this program. Too bad the Audio-Visual didn't work.
At 1PM I saw the program "Arnold Gillespie: The Wizard of Special Effects. His grandson Robert Welch had an excellent slideshow which went with the talk. Very good!
Fifty Years of the Winkie Con - I had met Peter Hanff at the registration, and found out he was one of the original co-founders of Winkie Con 50 years ago! The history presented at this program was outstanding, even to one who was at Winkie Con for the first time!
At 3PM I attended 'Meet the Wicked Witch!', with Kurt Raymond transforming himself to that role. The program actually lasted almost two hours... But was very interesting!
At 5PM I took in the Winkie Con Reception, the first of three communal meals. The hot dogs, burgers, beans etc., were very good and those that attended this were very happy! Good job organizing this event!
7:30 was 'Interview with the Wicked Witch', where Batton Lash interviewed the Wicked Witch, whom I had seen transform himself earlier. I have a video of this twenty minute interview to upload, (soon).
Then the evening schedule went haywire... Aljean Harmetz went on earlier than scheduled, and I enjoyed listening to her talk. The L. Frank Baum - the San Diego Connection went on afterwards... But I didn't stay for that, as it was getting late. Once again there was Audio-Visual troubles. Oh, and the last program didn't go on as scheduled.
Saturday I was back bright and early, taking in the Winkie Con Costume Contest at 9AM. Very well done, with some outstanding costumes!
I then went to the Oz Collectibles panel. Interesting aspects of collecting presented.
At 11 AM I attended the 'Oz Books for Beginners'. Very good, and I took a few photos of the Power Point presentation, to share at my Facebook fan page.
I also attended the Winkie Con Auction - Afternoon Session. That was fun seeing old Oz books I had never seen. Plus other Oz related items.
The 2PM program with 'Toto of Oz, a Great and powerful Film Career' was entertaining!
At 3PM I saw the John and Bjo Trimble program. Although it mostly was on the topic of Star Trek (TOS), there was some Oz topics mentioned.
4PM I was going to split between 'Meet Priscilla Montgomery' and 'Meet the Baum Bugle Editors', but Priscilla was so fascinating that I stayed through the whole of her program.
Well then... Next was the 6PM Winkie Con Awards Banquet. The meal was not delivered timely, and I was in the first five tables to be served. However, I totally enjoyed the salad, the salmon dish, and the dessert! The Awards presentation was at the end of this dinner.
Then there was the stage musical 'The Tik-Tok Man of Oz', which had not played in San Diego for 100 years!
I was sitting in the back, so my viewing was somewhat limited... There was a lot of heads in front of me. However, the musical was very good, although just a little out-dated. After all it was a play from 100 years ago! But I could see a lot of energy went into this musical and I could appreciate it for what it was meant to be, and the time period from which it was from.
Sunday... The programs started at 10AM as the Sunday Brunch in Coronado was taking place at the same time. I saw Aljean Harmetz's 1979 Wizard of Oz Documentary. Very good showing!
11 AM found me at the 75 Years of the MGM Wizard of Oz panel. Enjoyable panel.
I skipped the next set of panels, and took in my final looks at the Dealers Room, and the Judy Garland gowns exhibit.
At 1:30 PM there was the 'Tik-Tok Man of Oz Audience Talk-Back'.
2:30 PM was the 'Upcoming Oz Events', which ran into the 'Winkie Con Closing Ceremonies' program. There was the talk back from the audience about how this year's con fared.
I noticed that few of the old timers were not happy about the lack of communal meals, (there was only 3 meals together this year), whereas in Asilomar they ate all the meals together.
I also noticed that this con was a turning point. The current Executive Director and Chairman of the Con, David Maxine, asked for feedback. Several points were brought up that were discussed. Too many programs, not enough communal meals, liking of the limited turnout of previous years, and the liking of newbies, (like myself) to this year's con.
Whereas the annual turnout in the past was less than 100 attendees, this year's 50th Celebration reached 400 total attendees. So yes, with this many attendees in a brand new facility, there would be a few problems.
For myself, I found the programming to be outstanding! Just a little light on Sunday though.
The communal meals were fun, but I don't remember any other cons I've attended with meals like this Con had. I attended 2 of the 3 communal meals. The two I attended were fun... But not really necessary IMO for a con. However, this had been a club's con in the past 49 years, so I could see the point the old timers made.
This Winkie Con was a fun one for me to attend as a 'newbie'. Other 'newbies' expressed their liking the Con. I believe that this Con needs to assess what went right and what didn't really go right this year, and tweak next year's Con. There is plenty of time to do. I think the club's adminstration needs to figure out if they should stay a club's convention, or transform more into a mainstream convention. That would settle the communal meals question.
My 'comic book grade' for this 2014 Winkie Con 50 is a Very Fine / Very Fine Plus (VF/VF+) 8.25 out of a possible 10.0 comic book grading scale. I would suggest anyone who enjoys the Wizard of Oz MGM film, or Oz books to check out next year's Winkie Con, which takes place July 31 thru August 2nd.
My photos taken at Winkie Con 50 will be found my Facebook fan page photo albums. Here is the link to the first photo album.
The videos taken will be uploaded in the future at my YouTube Channel.
Here is the Winkie Con's Facebook fan page link.
Here is the Winkie Con's Facebook event link.
Here is the web site link for Winkie Con.
Here is the web site link for the International Wizard of Oz Club.
Thanks to David Maxine & Eric Shanower for bringing Winkie Con to my attention! It was a Fun three days convention!
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