What the hell?! It’s What the Hell Con
From board games to video games, from the Iron Chef: College Edition competition to the Geek Auction, from bad movies to bad anime, it is no wonder that Guilford College’s annual What the Hell?! Con is such a large event. Sponsored by the Yachting Club, this self-advertised geek convention offers something for anyone with an interest in science fiction, fantasy or gaming.
The convention this year hosted events and shows including the fire-dancing group Flaming Faeries, a debate on “the relative awesomeness of things (con-goers) love” in the realm of geekdom and two wizard rock concerts, featuring music based on the Harry Potter series performed by the bands The Blibbering Humdingers and Hawthorne & Holly.
WTHCon also reprised its classic events such as the Crapathon, or “the worst clips of crap your con organizers can find,” and the Geek Auction, where bidders buy dances with “young geeks” to benefit charity. These events traditionally bring a good-sized crowd to Guilford.
Unfortunately for the vendors and artists at WTHCon, this year’s turnout was not as large as it has been in previous years, with only 300 attendees. Last year, attendance was at an all-time high with over 500 people coming from across the nation to go to the MC Frontalot concert.
“I’ve made less this year than I have in the past few years,” said Keith Barch, owner of Gorgeous Chain, a company that creates chain mail clothing and accessories. “The con just isn’t drawing as many people as it used to.”
One issue this year that may have affected attendance is that advertisement about the event started late.
“We were unable to advertise as much as we would have liked,” said con staff member Alan Rhodes ’08. “There were a lot of things that we just couldn’t get done or didn’t have time to do.”
Despite these problems during the planning of the convention, there were no major issues during the con besides a cut-off microphone during the Geek Auction.
“It’s rather shocking,” said junior Adam Bertling, head of the Gophers, all-purpose staff for the con. “Usually something will go wrong, but we have managed to avert anything serious this year.”
A few of those in attendance expressed distaste with the convention’s programs. Some stated that the convention was growing boring due to the repetition of the same activities and events.
“We would like to see some different artists, different guests, or different events rather than the same stuff each year,” commented one con-goer who asked not to be named. “Last year they got MC Frontalot; why could they not get another big name guest this year?”
Unlike last year’s MC Frontalot concert, which packed Dana Auditorium, this year’s wizard rock concerts drew very small crowds. This may be due more to MC Frontalot’s popularity than to lack of effort on the part of the Yachting Club.
“We did try to find someone big for the con,” said senior Kalyn Howard, Yachting Club librarian and clerk. “The problem is we didn’t have the funding for another big concert like last year.”
Other attendees claimed that the con was not well organized. Concerns such as these are natural, as Jennie Breeden, the creator of the webcomic “Devil’s Panties,” noted.
“I have been attending the con for six to seven years now,” said Breeden. “The best and worst thing about these college conventions is that you have a new group of people running it every four years. Next year’s con will be much better, I’m sure.”
The general feeling of attendees was that this year’s organizers were not as experienced as last year’s. Events on Friday had to be pushed to Saturday with little to no notice, causing confusion for those interested in the events.
“It was just too disorganized,” stated senior and con-goer Brian Jones. “There was no way for me to attend as many of the events as I was interested in. This year’s (WTHCon) … was more of a learning experience for those in charge, and hopefully they will learn from the mistakes this year.”
The success of the con relies on those attending to comment on what they would like to see changed and what they would like to see improved.
“People need to come into the planning meetings and suggest what they want to see at the con, otherwise we have no idea,” Howard said.
WTHCon is one of Guilford’s oddest traditions, where anyone can come out and talk about what they are passionate about. Despite its challenges, this year’s con shows that the Yachting Club sails on. Until next year’s WTHCon: may the Force be with you.