CONVENTION REPORT – Con Nooga 2018 (Chattanooga, TN)

February 23-25 marked the 2018 offering of Con Nooga – Chattanooga, Tennessee’s largest multi-fandom convention, and one of the largest of its kind on the east coast of North America.

(image courtesy of Con Nooga)

Con Nooga has been an annual tradition for the Nerd Nation crew since its inception over a decade ago – back when the majority of our staff worked for other publications – and they have welcomed us back as media guests each and every year since. I’ll admit, I didn’t know what to think the first time I personally attended back in 2010, but it surprised me greatly and hopefully you dear readers (who haven’t already) will give it a chance to do the same for you.

Let’s start with education and intellectual exchange. You can edify yourself if you attend a panel on just about any subject under the sun. This year offered such instructional panels as, Fur-suiting 101, Conquering your Character (which is a good workshop for shy people), Cosplay Materials (in case you are considering doing it yourself), Mech Mania (which i assume is a discussion and love of all things Robot Suit!),How to Swing Foam 101, and LED electronics for Beginners! – Basically these are FREE classes on all things nerdy that you might want to get into! Cons are fun!

There of course is LARPing of all stripes and Tea Duels aplenty. (If you don’t know what those are, look them up. They’re fun.) You can even attend the local Wizards Wizengamut. Which if you aren’t in the know is some serious Harry Potter fandom that’s sort of like a “Who Dunnit” evening of mystery-solving.

Speaking of games there has always been large space set aside for people to play just about any tabletop game you can imagine. This year there was a room with video came consoles for people to play and some large cooperative space battle game where many players all flew one large starship and fought off enemies. The programming is always so vast that it would take FAR too much space for me to list everything here you can do. I will tell you that it ranges across the whole spectrum from Star Wars vs Star Trek Debates and Physics to Drunken Big Wheel races. Over 500 hours of programming including British media discussions and many other fandom topics. To be honest, it’s fairly ridiculous the amount of programming they fit into this three-day convention… but luckily there’s a free app (for both iOS and Android devices) that’ll help you easily navigate through all of it. If you ever do a con of this size, and they have an app like this, I highly suggest you download it.

You can also meet authors and media guests Like John Anderson (IMDb him now) or a pro-wrestler or two. I ran into wrestling legend Marty Jannetty just walking around. It was a real experience. There are comic artists and animators of all levels to check out for you autograph hounds. Con Nooga doesn’t over-saturate itself with celebrity guests like a lot of other cons out there, instead putting more focus on the actual stuff to do, but their guest list is always impressive nonetheless.

Another thing that Con Nooga has quite a lot of it CONTESTS! So, SO many contests! I encourage you to look up any of these on the website as well if a name jumps out at you: Saber Idol
ConNooga Costume Constest
Harry Potter House Debate
Trash Can Cosplay
Mech Mania
Big Wheel Racing
Charity Poker
Drag Race
and Scream Queen contest!

There are gaming tournaments both video and tabletop as well. These are different each year on the whole but there are some staples. You’re sure to find something that you like if you want to show your skills as a wizard or a keeper of cute little monsters.

… and then of course there’s the legendary Con Nooga Nightlife:

Something for the parents yes? As I have grown up going to cons I have noticed a sense of family among many people that you see at many cons. There are even strangers you might run into that exude this feeling that you are at a family reunion. I make friends at every con I go to but cons like this one are great for getting to know people. At night the sanctioned celebrations go on in a predetermined area where IDs are checked and security patrols. Parties are encouraged to be open to the public so that they may be judged . The winner of “Best Party” gets a prize and a place to try and defend their title the next year. Its here that you really see con people look out for each other whether it’s handing you a drink to make you smile, telling stories, or making sure you get back to your room if it looks like your landing gear isn’t operating properly. Sometimes I am reminded of the spirit of the Quidditch World Cup atmosphere. So many people are here for the same reason; smiling, reuniting, sharing giant lies, and laughing until its time to go home.

And when it is time to go home you know it. You feel it in your back and legs all bloody week because you walked to see so many wonders.  I didn’t even touch on there being crazy costumes everywhere you look or a giant dealers room with any art, clothing, comic or toy you can imagine..and a lot you can’t. I take it that even to people who have never gone to one of these that its a given. The new digs look great and the layout and architecture should prove to be really fertile ground for more nice memories to come. So next year come out… watch a little CNTV with us and count the Klingons.

The Bottom Line:
Con Nooga remains one of the absolute BEST conventions in North America, an absolute must for any avid con fan, and a great starter for new people. It likely always will be. No bones about it, we love this con! This is of course a purely biased opinion, admittedly, as they’ve been very good to us over the years, but you will see for yourself if you ever get up there in later winter. If you’ve never been, do yourself a favor and make the trip to Chattanooga… you’ll be glad you did!



-James Nimmons
Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine



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