PortCon Maine is New England's oldest anime and gaming convention, held annually at the Hilton Doubletree Hotel in South Portland, Maine. The fan-based convention's organizers are committed to maintaining a relaxed, small-convention atmosphere which focuses on promoting socialization among attendees, guests, artists, and performers. PortCon Maine selected the theme "Top Secret" for its thirteenth annual convention, and broke previous attendance records with over 3,000 congoers participating in the event over the course of the weekend. The guest list was somewhat short this year; voice actors included Amber Nash, Keith Silverstein, and Lucky Yates, as well as the 3.5 Geeks podcast and special effects artist Eric Anderson. The only performers were the musicians Crunk Witch. The convention schedule also seemed somewhat sparse this year, though the major events remained: cosplay competitions, the boffing tournament, Anime Unscripted, and a garage sale for con attendees trying to make some extra cash - we oftentimes found that there didn't seem to be much to do. They did have an excellent game room this year with lots of original offerings including Atari consoles and fan-designed games. Unfortunately, PortCon continues to run up against issues with limited space in its current location, despite a growing attendee list. However the community atmosphere which attracts so many to PortCon year after remains strong.
Sketch and Shiva's Weekend Breakdown:
After having experienced a rather hectic PortCon last year due to other commitments, we were looking forward to a more relaxing weekend as we drove up to Maine after work on Thursday evening. We arrived at PortCon around 8PM, picked up our badges at the Doubletree Hotel, and grabbed dinner before settling into our hotel room at the neighboring Day's Inn. While staying at the Doubletree is more convenient, the Day's Inn is much less expensive and we have gotten into the habit of treating outselves to our own room for PortCon rather than splitting costs with roommates.
Friday morning Sketch got into his Captain Hammer costume and we drove over to the con hotel and dropped off merchandise for PortCon’s garage sale. After checking in all of our items which had become a rather painless process, we met up with Ellystar, who had made matching Princess Peach and Princess Daisy costumes from Super Mario Bros. for herself and Shiva to wear. Shiva was excited to try on Daisy, and although she was worried it would be too hot, the fabric was breathable and she was really comfy in it. We all wandered around the convention together for the morning and Sketch took a bunch of photos. That afternoon, we walked across the street to the Maine Mall still in costume, and Ellystar found a Question Block box from Super Mario Bros.. The box was intended to hold Wii figures, but she bought it to use as a purse. The Best Buy staff got a huge kick out of Princess Peach buying a Question Box from them at the register, and asked to take selfies with her.
On our way out, we stopped at the carousel in the mall and Shiva and Ellystar decided to fork over a couple of bucks and ride the horses. The guy running the empty ride was amused by their costumes and even more amused by the sudden uptick in business when a flock of little kids suddenly wanted to ride with the Super Mario Princesses. Shiva and Ellystar climbed aboard – side saddle, of course – and Sketch took photos as they whirled around, laughing. PatrickD arrived just as the ride was winding down, surprised to be waved at by horse-riding carousel princesses!
Saturday morning we got into our Sango and Miroku costumes from InuYasha and walked up the street to the con. We did a small photoshoot in the empty field next to the convention center; we especially were focused on getting some good shots of Sketch's Miroku since we didn't have a chance to photograph his new costume properly at Anime Boston. We also ran into several other InuYasha fans and took photos with both an InuYasha and a really cute Rin who were really nice! That afternoon Shiva changed into Nurse Joy from Pokemon as that costume was easier to perform in for Anime Unscripted. We both participated in the main Anime Unscripted cast in the main events tent, which wasn’t quite as funny as last year, but was still an enjoyable experience. Highlights included Shiva playing a character "obsessed with Frozen" during the dating game and singing all of her answers to the bachelor's questions as improvised parodies of Frozen songs.
After dinner, Ellystar and Shiva went about the process of destroying their Princess Peach and Daisy costumes to make post-apocalyptic versions. They cut them with scissors, tore them, took them outside and stomped on them in the dirt, lit parts of them on fire in the hotel room sink, and stained them with fake blood. Ellystar had made matching punk vests to go with the distressed gowns which had a mushroom on the back of Peach’s vest and a fire flower on the back of Daisy's. She had also painted plastic guns to look futuristic and match the princess colors. The end result looked pretty cool and quite a few people got the post-apocalyptic vibe. Sketch did a photoshoot of the costumes outside in a few settings once it got dark. We hit up the rave for a bit which was a lot of fun; Shiva ended up with glow sticks in her princess crown and other parts of her costume before she left the dance floor.
When we returned for the Days Inn for the night, we packed up all of our stuff other than a change of clothes and moved it into the car around 1am. We heard it was supposed to downpour in the morning and wanted to avoid having to move things in the middle of a deluge. When we woke up we were very grateful we had decided to pack up the car the night before it was raining so hard we could have called it a monsoon. Sketch backed up the car to the hotel entrance and Shiva still got completely soaked just running to the passenger door. We went out to a restaurant for breakfast and ran some errands before returning to the convention, sans costumes, for the afternoon.
Thankfully by lunchtime the rain had let up a bit, but not much, and we felt bad for the convention attendees trying in vain to protect their costumes from the water. One of the main drawbacks of PortCon is that the Doubletree is such a tiny venue that being outside is not particularly avoidable, even when staying at the host hotel. Main events and the boffing tournament both take place outside in the parking lot, and the hallways get so crowded that typically milling about outdoors is the only way to get some breathing room. When it rains, however, the situation can quickly become untenable, especially when it was raining as intensely as it was today. We stuck around until the garage sale let out at 3pm so we could collect our earnings and whatever items had not successfully sold; thankfully we walked away with less than one box of items left and a couple of hundred bucks each in our pockets, which was fantastic. While we had fun, we're not sure we’ll do this convention for much longer; with fewer of our friends going each year, it is difficult to stay engaged.