by Transmute Jun
SiliCon (formerly Silicon Valley Comic Con) returned to the San Francisco Bay Area August 28-29, 2021. Walking through the show, there was a common sentiment amongst attendees, guests and staff: it was great to be back.
This was definitely a scaled back con experience, but everyone understood the restrictions necessary due to COVID. The convention center mandated a reduced capacity of 5,000 people per day, and including tickets sold at the door, that maximum was reached. Show organizers admitted that the con was losing money with such a small number of attendees (attendance was approximately 20,000 people in 2019) but they decided that it was still important to hold the con this year. If it had been 2 years off, they felt that it would have been more difficult to come back in the future.
Someone has to be the first, and SiliCon was the first post-COVID comic con in the region. In that light, the con was a massive success. Everyone had a great time, and everyone was safe. The show clearly demonstrated that both things were simultaneously possible. Fans dressed in cosplay and wandered the exhibit floor, eagerly connecting with each other, everyone staying at a distance with which they felt comfortable.
While masks and temperature checks were required, the most uncomfortable part of the post-COVID era actually turned out to be the lack of food options. There were no food vendors (save for a minimal presence from one window on the exhibit floor) and it was clear that attendees were being encouraged to go outside to eat. Also disappointing was the unexplained ‘unmanned mission’ from NASA. They had their usual large space on the exhibit floor, but no one was actually present at the booth. While NASA hosted a number of panels, every panelist and moderator only attended on Zoom. Apparently, COVID issues kept their people away from the con.
On the positive side, the low attendance meant that this con was incredibly approachable. Celebrity guests wandered around, chatting with fans and interacting on a more personal level. Lineups for panels were almost non-existent, and there were always seats available in every room. Everything was so accessible that it almost felt as if attendees were being spoiled for future cons.
While the highlight of the weekend was definitely the appearance of William Shatner (Star Trek) on Sunday, fans also enjoyed panels with the likes of Mark Sheppard (Supernatural), Denise Crosby (Star Trek: the Next Generation), Lana Parilla (Once Upon a Time) and con organizer Adam Savage (Mythbusters). There was also a large Maker presence, with attendees encouraged to take part in hands-on projects right on the exhibit floor.
Did you attend SiliCon? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!