The 29th Annual “Last” Chicago CoCoFEST! Is a Wrap!

With abject apologies for the delay in posting this (I had to take another trip immediately following the show and am just now getting caught up), I wanted to extend my appreciation for everyone who attended (virtually or physically), presented, or exhibited at the 2021 show on behalf of GCCC. As I’ve noted, Heron Point will always hold a special place in my memory (both for this show and the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest that also hosted events there for years). I’m convinced “Touch the Heron” will eventually become an inside joke separating the new attendees from those who have visited for many years. That said, I was excited to move into the Elk Grove Village venue and I believe the new home suits the club well:

  • I’ve always preferred the hotel and show venue share a space. It’s so nice to not have to brave the weather just to walk to the event from your hotel room
  • The new layout offers a nice place for registration/payment
  • More main show floor space
  • The side rooms offer similar square footage compared the Heron Point auction/registration/presentation room, but there are two (2) of them
  • Much easier load in/out capability. No more being “Stuck in an Elevator”
  • Ability to grab a quick bite to eat without leaving the venue.

In addition to venue upgrade, I was most impressed with our video capabilities. Each presentation was recorded and streamed for later reference (or for those like myself who could not attend all of them) in a professional manner. Folks appeared to find the live show floor feed(s) useful as well. I’ll try to post all of the videos at the end of this posting.

Events don’t just run themselves, so I’d like to thank some folks who ensured the work got done:

Show Organizer: Tony Prodraza

Presentation Staff: Steve Strowbridge, Randy Weaver, and Marc Bosley

Registration/Financial: Richard Bair, Eric Canales, John Mark Mobley, and Brian Goers

Auctioneer: Jason Timmons

I’d also like to extend many thanks to Marc Bosley for helping me demonstrate items during the 3 (three!) auction events we held, and a heartfelt Thank You to Eric Canales for helping with the many odds and ends (printer paper gofer, cord runner, etc.) during the event

The club also owes many thanks to Jason Timmons and Michael Lee, who organize the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest. Free of charge, they loaned GCCC commercial power strips, portable PA systems, projectors, projector screens, and wireless microphones. They also graciously agreed to store club materials until our next show.

As noted at the informal at-show business meeting, The 2022 30th Anniversary Annual “Last” Chicago CoCoFEST! is confirmed for May 14/15 at the Elk Grove Village Holiday Inn (I have the contract in hand) and will follow the same general configuration. I am eager to hear from attendees, exhibitors, and presenters, but I do know the following changes should be considered:

  • I didn’t see any value in opening the venue up Friday morning for club set up. Folks did not start arriving until noon anyway.
  • Coffee service. (I didn’t think about it, since I don’t drink it). We got it in place for later Saturday and all day Sunday, but we’ll get it in place formally for the next show.
  • More time between presentations. Back-to-back presentations were too hard to stay on schedule and gave no time for pre-talk prep and downtime for the A/V staff. For May, my thought is to start at 9:30AM, do 1 hour presentation, then a half hour of show floor time, another hour presentation at 11AM, lunch, then a presentation at 1:30PM, and a half hour downtime before the Saturday auction. We’ll lose a presentation slot, but I think the anxiety level will go down significantly. For Sunday, schedule at most 1 presentation in late morning (11AM, perhaps), and none in the afternoon.
  • More time for lunch. 1.5 hours seems OK. noon-1:30PM
  • Prioritize in-person exhibitor presentations to allow attendees time to visit presenter booths afterwards.
  • Real-time attendee count and financial reporting. I admit I was so focused on making sure people who did attend got their materials and tables and such, I didn’t think about statistics, but folks were asking about attendees (which is appropriate) and whether we had broken even on the show. It’s good information to know and have for the meeting.
  • I wasn’t overly wild about the evening business meeting. In my mind, after 6PM, the show is over for the day. I’d like to relocate the meeting.
  • Confirming table usage a few days prior. Without that information, it was difficult to pull the empty tables from the layout and so we ended up with more tables in the layout than we needed. It would have been an easy fix to do on Friday, but once people are set up, it’s a huge imposition to ask them to move.

Nothing above seems overly difficult, just some tweaks here and there.

The auction was an unqualified success. I’m not privy to previous year totals, but it appears we netted about ~$6,000.00 for the auctions alone. I do appreciate everyone who participated. Mostly, I’m even more happy that we’ve moved literally dozens of totes containing hardware and software into enthusiasts’ hands and greatly reduced the storage load for club officers and members. That said, I’d prefer we not repeat the auction pace in 2022.

I await more dinner reports, but those I did receive gave the entrees and sides an enthusiastic thumbs up. The desserts underwhelmed, so I’ll share those comments with the hotel.

If you missed the show or part of it, here’s a list of links to the recorded video:

Glenside 29th Annual “Last” Chicago CoCoFEST! Playlist

Show Floor Feed

Opening/Show Floor

CoCoFEST! NitrOS-9 Ease of Use for Beginners

Everything in the MC-10 but the (Kitchen) Sync!

Living the Dream as a CoCo Game Developer

CoCo Community Collaboration

No Minimum Bid Auction I

Glenside @Show Business Meeting

Saturday Night Bonus Auction

Raiders of the Lost Code (whipcrack!)

CoCoByte : CoCo friendship and Latin American Ambition

The 3D Printed CoCo Case

No Minimum Bid Auction II

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Less than 60 Days Remaining!

As you can see from the countdown timer at the top of glensideccc.com, we’ve just passed below the “60 days to event” mark. With that in mind, I wanted to give folks some additional details on the upcoming show:

  • The show is still happening! I’ll admit I expected the skies to fully clear by this time such that the show dates would be a largely normal time. It doesn’t look like that’ll quite be the case, but the BOD sees no current issue with holding the event on our scheduled dates.
  • That said, there are some realities that will intrude on our normalcy. We’re obligated to comply with local statutes in our venue. Currently, the state of Illinois has instituted an indoor masking policy. We’ll let you know if the situation changes as we creep closer to our show dates, but I’d recommend ensuring a mask or 2 follow you to the show. Since there’s some time yet, I’d recommend splurging for a custom printed mask with your favorite computer adorning it. Neil Blanchard has some CoCo-themed masks for sale at (https://www.facebook.com/commerce/listing/332771551273852/?ref=share_attachment) and if I find others I’ll link to them. The venue confirmed they’ll have a few masks on hand for compliance, but I’d not recommend assuming they have plenty for everyone. Likewise, we will arrange for some to be available at the show as well.
  • We will also arrange to have hand sanitizer at various locations for use by our attendees.
  • To both help speed up entrance at the show and to cut down on people standing in lines, we’re encouraging attendees to pre-register. If you do so and the show cannot be held, we’ll process a refund or your ticket will continue to be valid for our next CoCoFEST! face to face event.
  • To both cut down on paper currency handling at the show and enable pre-payment options, we’re encouraging folks to use electronic and/or credit card payment options this year, even for day-of registrations
  • The Saturday evening dinner is still a GO! The venue did not feel the current compliance requirements created any concerns. I will soon post an informal poll on our buffet serving options for some feedback.
  • While we obviously want to make this a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone, we fully understand if you are not able to attend. We are working to provide some virtual “presence” options for those folks, and we will try to stream all of the presentations and the auction to YouTube and Facebook.

There’s still a few tables left for late exhibitors, and we can always squeeze one more presenter into the lineup. But, time is indeed growing short, so work to finish your projects and plan to join us in early November!

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