Wednesday, October 7, 2015

CONtraflow Happened, and I Was There

Unlike San Diego, Atlanta, or even New York, New Orleans isn't known for a particular convention, but the Gulf Coast is home to several conventions held throughout the year. It's my goal, here at She-Geeks, to showcase those smaller (but no less enthusiastic) conventions. If there is a convention in or around the Gulf Coast that you'd like to see me cover, please send the convention details to

I spent a fun filled weekend of cosplay, panels, and shenanigans at CONtraflow SciFi! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite stops on the convention circuit. It's a small convention focused on science, science fiction/fantasy, and literacy. From gaming and panels to music performances and room party competitions, there's a little something for everyone at CONtraflow; and, the welcoming, family-type feel of this small con makes it a favorite among attendees.

One of the panel rooms was set up like a board room. I felt super important during my panels! (Photo: Scott Rivet)
This con is perfect for both established and aspiring writers alike with plenty of authors in attendance and panels designed to up your writing game. The above panel, with authors Leo King and Chris Hayes, focused on writing memorable characters was just one of nearly 150 fascinating panels offered over the weekend. In addition to panels specifically about the writing process, CONtraflow also offered panels for writers and the curious alike to be able to separate fact from fiction on topics ranging from biology and space exploration to law enforcement and even my own panel on accurate crime scene investigation.

As much as I loved the panels offered, my only gripe with this year's CONtraflow was the panel scheduling. With so many fabulous panels, I'm sure it was incredibly difficult to fit everything in. Unfortunately, that meant that some panels were scheduled at some very strange and inconvenient hours. This is not an issue specific to CONtraflow; it seems to be a habit for conventions to schedule panels starting at the same time as the convention doors opening. It's a disservice to both the panelists and their audience alike, as those panels are destined to start at least 10-15 minutes late in order to allow people to get there on time. It's annoying for the audience and extremely frustrating for panelists; with such great programming, no one wants to miss a minute!

Looking for something a little more interactive? Try your luck in a Tea Duel! Presented by the New Orleans Tea Dueling Society, this fun game tests your nerve and your steady hand in a game of chicken with soggy tea biscuits. The winner in this tournament style game walked away with a handmade, leather tea cup holder from The Man From Middle-Earth. I made it all the way to the final round before my biscuit failed me, but both the biscuits and the tea was delicious and I had way more fun than I thought I would.

Real food in the Hospitality Suite?? Of course that drew a crowd!
For such a small convention, CONtraflow paid attention to the details that really leave an impression. I'm always impressed with their Cadet Lounge, a monitored room for the little ones to play and craft while parents check out a panel or shop in the Dealer's Room. This year, the Hospitality Suite also stood out with well-stocked snacks all day, and free meals (scrambled eggs, nachos, red beans and rice, etc.) served at designated times. Once a convention staple, many cons are doing away with the Hospitality/Con Suite altogether; having one that was so well tended was a real treat.

Right out of Back to the Future, this room party took top prize!
Now, don't let CONtraflow's family-friendly day time programming fool you, one of the highlights of this con is the Saturday night Room Party competition. Each year, the convention and hotel designate a specific floor as the party floor and those staying on that floor are encouraged to decorate their rooms according to this year's Into the Deep theme, create specialty cocktails, and lay out a spread of delicious foods for a night of party hopping and competition. I was one of the judges, so I spent my Saturday night bouncing around from room to room delighting in the decor (some of them were unrecognizable as hotel rooms), the food, and oh my gods the drinks! The Apple Cider from the JordanCon room and the 1.21 Gigawatt from the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance were my personal favorites. So dangerously yummy!

Room parties are no joke at CONtraflow!
The shenanigans continued on Sunday when my friend and I decided that Sunday was pajama day, and ran amok in our onsies (her in her Figment jimjams, and me in my dino ones). We may have accidentally started a trend, but whimsy is one of the staples at CONtraflow so Sunday Onsies should fit right in.

CONtraflow may be small, but it's jam packed with quality programming and wonderful people. If you're in the New Orleans area next year, I recommend checking it out!

Now, let's take a look at some of the stand-out cosplay and vendor booths I found:

BoonDuck Saints! Clever cosplay is clever!


1. Mystic FX and Jesse Shoemaker teamed up to bring some fabulous creations to life!

2. The seamstress of The Peddler's Pack makes beautiful designs!

3. Talaxia Designs offer several creations, including these geeky clock faces!

4. The folks with the International Krewe of Chewbacchus brought out some of their toys, including the Lunar Party Rover!

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