I had the pleasure of being a vendor at this year’s Cogs & Corsets in Bloomington, Illinois along with my wife’s business, Ravenwing Creations. We both had a blast, despite last minute changes to the vendor locations. The staff and organizers were fantastic in keeping us informed and making sure we had what we needed. That’s just from a vendor perspective though, but they did a great job.
From a convention attendee perspective, this con is great. The event is very new, this year being its third year, and they estimate around 1000 attendees. The event itself is free, though there are some activities that require an entry fee. There’s so much to do, and downtown Bloomington is a great location for the event. Local businesses got involved, including a specialty spice shop whose owners dressed up for the festivities.
Along with Bloomington Spice Works, local restaurants and shops shifted hours and staff to account for visitors. The local art community and the museum also hosted events. Just a look at their sponsor’s page shows that this community really came together to create something fantastic. While we were working our booth we had people tell us they’d traveled for hours just to come to the con, despite the questionable forecast. I haven’t been to another steampunk convention myself, but we do a lot of other pop culture cons and this was one of the most fun events we’ve attended and we’ll certainly be back as vendors, and hope to get more involved with events and cosplay at future shows.
As an attendee there’s quite a lot to see and do at the con. A costume contest of course, and a fun teapot race involving RC cars with elaborately decorated teapots on them. A maker’s faire, classes, and even nerf dueling. The vendor market is full of jewelry crafters, costume designers, and all sorts of curiosities. The activities page on their site has all the details. While we were in the vendor area at the art center we were able to watch the tea etiquette class, the dancing lessons, and hear the tesla coil demonstration and concert held in the theater above. They have a lot of pictures on their Facebook page showing some of the events going on throughout the weekend.
Overall the weekend was a blast, even for those of us working it. My only regret was not having time to see some of the events going on in other parts of town. I hope next year my wife and I can steal time away to see some of the other stuff going on and perhaps show off our own costumes. We’ll definitely be back next year, and hope to see you all there. If you’re in the area, or even within reasonable driving distance I highly recommend attending.