July 15-17, 2005
Durham, North Carolina
Trinoc is a con of polar opposites. There was really cool but poorly organized programming, and enthusiastic but small attendance and a friendly, but mostly invisible staff.
Programming was great, the panels I attended were interesting and the critter contest (create a costume for a plush bear and then enter it in the Masquerade) was too cute. They also had a lot of crafty stuff for people to do. The major problem was finding out where it was. There was no schedule in the programming book, just boards in front of each room announcing the schedule. This meant you had to run to each board to find out where any event was. Even guests seemed to have trouble figuring out where they were supposed to be.
Attendance was down, even the bartender for the hotel commented on this. I understand that they had some competition so maybe a new date is in order. Or maybe it’s still fallout from their last date change.
The staff, the ones I saw, were all very friendly. A couple of times when I asked where an event was held, I was referred to a board. Politely. But it wasn’t really the info I wanted. Moderators in the panels were knowledgeable and knew when to go with debate and when to move on and the people helping with the craft panels were very hands on and available. Unfortunately, there was no way to discern who was on staff and who wasn’t. I only saw three people all weekend that I could identify as staff members and this was mostly because they were standing behind the registration desk.
All this combined to cause a fair amount of frustration for people. I saw (and heard) many people searching frantically for where they needed to be.
The Gaming Room… Gaming was well attended, more so then the rest of the convention. Trinoc used to be a mostly literary con but is now drawing more gamers. Not a bad thing, but they may want to start billing themselves as a gaming convention. I walked through the room a couple of times and discovered that the Gaming Dealers were in the Gaming Room. Logical, right? I do game but not at cons and had I not been searching for the Dealer’s Room (which wasn’t to my mind very clearly marked) I would never have found them. Fortunately, it turned out that Gaming Dealers were the people who had what we wanted to buy.
I did get some face time with Joe Lansdale at the Nth Degree room party, one of my all time favorite writers and perhaps the coolest guy in the universe, so I had a great con.
No one was angry or disappointed, just… somber. Trinoc has so much going for it, a bright, creative staff, a good central location and great taste in guests. If they work out a couple of what are really minor bugs, this will be a wonderful little con.