Every late February, the Nerd Nation team makes our annual trek over the Great Smoky Mountains and down into the Tennessee Valley to invade one of our absolute favorite conventions… the one and only Con Nooga.
Held annually at the Chattanooga Convention Center and Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel in Chattanooga, TN, this marked the tenth consecutive year of the three-day multi-fandom convention, and ninth consecutive year that Nerd Nation has been a part of it.
It also marked a year of transition as one of the aforementioned home venues, the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel, has transformed the usual hotel spots into efficiency apartments, therefore causing the con to move more of its festivites over to the Chattanooga Convention Center. As with any great event, both staff and con-goers persevered as we anticipate a new home for 2018.
Over the past decade, Con Nooga has grown into one of the most successful non-corporate run fandom conventions in the United States, quickly garnering a reputation as not only being family-friendly to the daytime crowds, but recognizing, and even embracing the fact that there is a night-time crowd that needs its own programming, and more importantly partying. This duality and now-famous late-night party scene has earned them the distinctive nickname “DragonCon Lite” for having the same flavor as the famed Labor Day con back when it was considerably smaller than the monstrosity it is today. Indeed, many have even went on record stating this fact, including our editor Dave Harlequin who now-famously stated that “Con Nooga is everything DragonCon used to be before it got too big to fully enjoy.” Given that they’re only about a two-hour drive straight up I-75 from Atlanta, you’ll also see many of the same faces at both cons.
Much like previous years, Con Nooga continues to deliver on fair pricing, accessibility to basic needs that people have, having a massive party atmosphere that is also one of the safest, an absolutely huge lineup quality programming that is truly a mix of just about everything in the fandom world (including many things you might not even think of), and now getting the rest of the city of Chattanooga involved by bringing in food trucks, as well getting other local establishments involved with discounts or other perks over the weekend. The Con Nooga App (which is free for iOS and Android devices) is one of the coolest and most convenient tools for both con-goers and guests/panelists alike, and Con Nooga TV provides a continuous 72-hour stream of rapid-fire amusement all weekend long on the closed-circuit channel in the host hotels for added entertainment.
But with massive growth comes new, massive needs. According to convention organizers Todd and Amber Patton, who spoke with Nerd Nation following the event, 2017 was indeed the final year with the Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel, and the 2018 event will instead be hosted at the Chattanooga Convention Center for daytime programming/events, with the new host hotel being the Staybridge Suites next door to the convention center for late-night programming/events, and of course the famous room parties. Tie this in with the several other host and overflow hotels around the immediate area in downtown Chattanooga, and you’ve got a massive upgrade to the overall weekend experience next year.
Speaking of next year, Con Nooga has already announced February 23-25, 2018 as the official dates for Con Nooga 2018, with discount pre-registration tickets available soon, along with vendor registration, panel submissions and everything else within the next couple months. All of this and more can be found at their official website: ConNooga.com.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Con Nooga continues to be one of the hands-down best conventions on the east coast, far outdoing similar cons in several areas including programming, entertainment, gaming, and especially partying. What they lack in celebrity guests they more than make up for in just about every area. Plus, with the con continuing to grow and expand on a yearly basis, they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and will definitely remain a destination event for years to come. Nerd Nation has been invited back for 2018, and we will absolutely be there ready to party! If you’ve never been to this one, do yourselves a favor and mark your calendars. You’ll be glad you did.
CHECK OUT SOME OF THESE PHOTOS FROM CON NOOGA 2017!
-Dave Ward and Dave Harlequin
Nerd Nation Staff