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Is Acen even considered an anime convention anymore?

#271 User is offline   Tiny Dangerous 

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 02:29 PM

I agree with a lot of this. Granted, last year was my first at ACen, but I've been to enough cons to know what a great one looks like.

I think the thing that upset me the most about last year was the Masquerade fiasco. They really couldn't take a few hours out of the rave in order for the skits that many of us came to see to perform? My group and I were sorely disappointed by that, but not that alone. Speaking of the rave, it wasn't as 'soapy' as we expected. But that's for a different time.

Almost every panel we tried to attend was canceled, moved, or the person who was supposed to run it didn't show up. I had planned to attend at least seven panels a day, and was only actually able to go to two during the con. It was ridiculous. I don't know if my group and I were unlucky, or if it's like that every year, but I've neverhad that problem at any other con I've been to. Generally, panels are where they said they'll be, and if they aren't, there is a notice on the door to the room about it. ACen has been the only exception to that norm.

The lack of actually anime related panels was disappointing as well, but there were still plenty worth attending (if they'd been there..) and the ones I did go to were phenomenal. My opinion is if it isn't anime/manga/Japanese culture related, I don't see why it should be allowed as a panel at an anime convention. But if so many people want a non-anime panel, I'd guess they're not the easiest to stop.

On the flip side, thanks to all of the odds and ends at ACen, I was able to see some non-anime things done very well for the first time in a long time. Like some of the Steampunk outfits, and the Lolita booths/fashion shows were very cool. And the bands aren't necessarily a bad thing either (but not something I care too much for), I could go on and on about how I'd rather see X than X.

In all, I did have a great time at ACen, but I'm not seeing it as much if an anime convention. Kind of a conglomeration of pop culture things with a dash of anime and Japanese culture.

#272 User is offline   reptoJane 

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:55 AM

View PostHello My Name Is Bob, on 01 May 2012 - 07:50 AM, said:

And to those speaking of the fashion shows. Not once did I suggest getting rid of all fashion shows. It's quantity that is a problem. Lolita fashion is one of those things that you need to be young and female to really enjoy. I get that and am glad you enjoyed it. Now, is there a reason to get three different designers with their own show taking up a good chunk of time in main programming when there's a ton of people who just don't care. It's all about balance. There is only so much time for major events in big rooms. That means there needs to be discussion of how much time any given thing should take. When the space gets 3 fashion shows, two raves and 5 concerts while the masquerade gets truncated, it seems that there is a bad lack of discipline in providing for the fans of other aspects of the on topic stuff.

ACen is going the route of C2E2 and ComicCon very quickly. Just the later two are far better organized and have enough variety to appeal to a lot of nerddoms. ACen isn't really even doing that all that well considering where the major event focus is.


And that is what I feel ACen has become: a less sanitary, haphazard version of the general geek cons.


There is truth in that last statement...

I've been going to cons for about 25 years, starting with GenCon and a Star Trek con held in Harvey, IL, and moving forward. I discovered Anime at GenCon--a gaming convention. Long before the internet was a thing <gasp!>, you could view anime 24/7 there. It was so fun to delve into!

Because ACen is all volunteer, you can see the lack of professionalism when you compare it to many other conventions. This is not all for the bad! I love the homespun feel to it at times. The volunteers in the Anime viewing rooms continue to be some of the best sources of information about the hobby out there and I routinely seek out the guy who seems to run the section for tips and ideas on new series to check out. The downside of the volunteer spirit is that the Con is quite simply overwhelming for someone who's not getting a nice salary to pull the event off. I mean, really, last year the attendance was over 24,000. @@ The logistics of pulling something off this big when you don't have seriously well trained event staff--who are getting paid to do the job full time--is astounding. This is a BIG, complex convention. And it's completely run by volunteers. That alone is an amazing statement.

The biggest problem, as I see it, is the lack of organization. It's hard to find your way around the con. It's hard to find panels. It's hard to learn about events in advance. It's hard to get answers to questions. The website is confusing and hard to find answers on. Let's not even speak of the horror of buying a badge on site or even badge pick up (6 hour lines?!?) Are staff trying to be helpful?--overwhelmingly, yes. Do they do a good job?--most of time, yes. Are they well trained?--depends on the department, age of the volunteer and his/her experience. Are they well organized?---er...

Also, because I"ve been doing some cons for ::cough::cough:: 25 years, I can speak to the fact that a vibrant Con is one that gracefully adapts and changes. GenCon is a far different beast than it was when I started going. It's gone from being mostly about tabletop roll playing games, to including war games, to a huge video game presence, to tabletop card games like Magic: the Gathering, to losing war games and later most of the video games. With the exception of an unfortunate buyout by Hasbro for a couple of years in the last 90s (until they bailed and sold it off to someone who actually did RPGs), GenCon has morphed and twisted, changed and changed back again, all with seeming grace and agility. Even ACen has changed in the 5 years that I've been going to it. We came for the Anime, but discovered much more. My daughters fell into Lolita here--and are now into it to the tune of their future inheritance (but that's another story). They LOVE the fashion show events and the fact that Angelic Pretty had a booth at ACen in 2012. It was the highlight of the Con for them. Since we've discovered ACen, we've gotten into Japanese culture in a big way. We drive close to an hour 3x a year to go to Mitsuwa Marketplace for delicious fresh ramen and "weird" groceries. We go to JapanFest each year. We've been to the Buddhist Japan Festival in Chicago. My son is investigating doing a youth exchange with JETS. All because we were introduced to Japanese culture via ACen. While I will always love Anime, the other stuff is just as fun and interesting to my family. Do I want to lose the Anime in Anime Central? Of course not! But I just as much don't want the convention to become stagnant and die. If it's always the same old-same old, why would you bother coming back each year?

There are other outlets for general geek culture in Chicago: ChiCon7, C2E2, Chicago Comic Con, Brickworld Chicago, Official Stargate Convention, etc. I see no reason that Anime Central can't continue to be a treasure trove of Japanese Animation and culture. It just needs to be aware that there is a lot of very talented, EXTREMELY well organized competition out there that it tends to fade when put next to in comparison. Part of the solution is to know your niche and to pull off a "good" convention. I wonder if ACen isn't to the point where it should consider going professional, or at least semi-pro to pull off a better con. I haven't done any other Anime Conventions, so I can't compare it on that front, but I have done many other geeky cons (as well as lot of mainstream conventions for work). ACen has a lot of rough edges that could bear with some polishing.
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#273 User is offline   Valkyrie 

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 09:43 AM

I'm pretty sure that the reason why we haven't gone "pro" like GenCon, Wizard World, etc. is because that involves money. Anime Central is a not-for-profit organization, hence why we have volunteers for staff. This also helps keep costs down for our staff and attendees, and is why you won't see things like guests charging for autographs.
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#274 User is offline   YoungBirdcall 

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 09:43 AM

View PostreptoJane, on 02 April 2013 - 12:55 AM, said:

There is truth in that last statement...

I've been going to cons for about 25 years, starting with GenCon and a Star Trek con held in Harvey, IL, and moving forward. I discovered Anime at GenCon--a gaming convention. Long before the internet was a thing <gasp!>, you could view anime 24/7 there. It was so fun to delve into!

Because ACen is all volunteer, you can see the lack of professionalism when you compare it to many other conventions. This is not all for the bad! I love the homespun feel to it at times. The volunteers in the Anime viewing rooms continue to be some of the best sources of information about the hobby out there and I routinely seek out the guy who seems to run the section for tips and ideas on new series to check out. The downside of the volunteer spirit is that the Con is quite simply overwhelming for someone who's not getting a nice salary to pull the event off. I mean, really, last year the attendance was over 24,000. @@ The logistics of pulling something off this big when you don't have seriously well trained event staff--who are getting paid to do the job full time--is astounding. This is a BIG, complex convention. And it's completely run by volunteers. That alone is an amazing statement.

The biggest problem, as I see it, is the lack of organization. It's hard to find your way around the con. It's hard to find panels. It's hard to learn about events in advance. It's hard to get answers to questions. The website is confusing and hard to find answers on. Let's not even speak of the horror of buying a badge on site or even badge pick up (6 hour lines?!?) Are staff trying to be helpful?--overwhelmingly, yes. Do they do a good job?--most of time, yes. Are they well trained?--depends on the department, age of the volunteer and his/her experience. Are they well organized?---er...

Also, because I"ve been doing some cons for ::cough::cough:: 25 years, I can speak to the fact that a vibrant Con is one that gracefully adapts and changes. GenCon is a far different beast than it was when I started going. It's gone from being mostly about tabletop roll playing games, to including war games, to a huge video game presence, to tabletop card games like Magic: the Gathering, to losing war games and later most of the video games. With the exception of an unfortunate buyout by Hasbro for a couple of years in the last 90s (until they bailed and sold it off to someone who actually did RPGs), GenCon has morphed and twisted, changed and changed back again, all with seeming grace and agility. Even ACen has changed in the 5 years that I've been going to it. We came for the Anime, but discovered much more. My daughters fell into Lolita here--and are now into it to the tune of their future inheritance (but that's another story). They LOVE the fashion show events and the fact that Angelic Pretty had a booth at ACen in 2012. It was the highlight of the Con for them. Since we've discovered ACen, we've gotten into Japanese culture in a big way. We drive close to an hour 3x a year to go to Mitsuwa Marketplace for delicious fresh ramen and "weird" groceries. We go to JapanFest each year. We've been to the Buddhist Japan Festival in Chicago. My son is investigating doing a youth exchange with JETS. All because we were introduced to Japanese culture via ACen. While I will always love Anime, the other stuff is just as fun and interesting to my family. Do I want to lose the Anime in Anime Central? Of course not! But I just as much don't want the convention to become stagnant and die. If it's always the same old-same old, why would you bother coming back each year?

There are other outlets for general geek culture in Chicago: ChiCon7, C2E2, Chicago Comic Con, Brickworld Chicago, Official Stargate Convention, etc. I see no reason that Anime Central can't continue to be a treasure trove of Japanese Animation and culture. It just needs to be aware that there is a lot of very talented, EXTREMELY well organized competition out there that it tends to fade when put next to in comparison. Part of the solution is to know your niche and to pull off a "good" convention. I wonder if ACen isn't to the point where it should consider going professional, or at least semi-pro to pull off a better con. I haven't done any other Anime Conventions, so I can't compare it on that front, but I have done many other geeky cons (as well as lot of mainstream conventions for work). ACen has a lot of rough edges that could bear with some polishing.


While I might not agree with everything you've said, you make some very valid points. More importantly, your post is thoughtful and constructive. I'm replying to you so that I can commend your intelligent, well-reasoned post.
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#275 User is offline   Arachne 

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:25 PM

View PostValkyrie, on 02 April 2013 - 09:43 AM, said:

Anime Central is a not-for-profit organization, hence why we have volunteers for staff.


Being nonprofit in no way disallows an organization to have paid staff. There is nothing wrong with ACen being volunteer-run, but I object to using a fallacy as an explanation for doing so.

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#276 User is offline   YoungBirdcall 

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:43 PM

View PostArachne, on 02 April 2013 - 12:25 PM, said:

Being nonprofit in no way disallows an organization to have paid staff. There is nothing wrong with ACen being volunteer-run, but I object to using a fallacy as an explanation for doing so.


Replying to give props for truth.

This post has been edited by YoungBirdcall: 02 April 2013 - 12:44 PM

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#277 User is offline   Valkyrie 

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:50 PM

View PostArachne, on 02 April 2013 - 12:25 PM, said:

Being nonprofit in no way disallows an organization to have paid staff. There is nothing wrong with ACen being volunteer-run, but I object to using a fallacy as an explanation for doing so.


Very true. (Somehow I apparently forgot that I was once employed at an animal shelter. Mea culpa!)

At the same time, funds are one reason why we don't have paid staff, among other benefits that the bigger "pro" conventions provide. Costs and budgets play a huge role. For example, a while back someone asked why we don't have professional security guards alongside or in place of IRT. The costs for that would go way beyond what we could afford. (People tend to say we don't have enough coverage, despite having 200 people on our team spread over different departments and shifts. Consider how expensive outsourcing just one team of professional security officers would be for one day, then picture having over 200 for the whole weekend.) This plays a role in other areas of the convention as well.

That being said, there's always room for improvement, no matter what convention you are or what department you're in. That I will agree with, and it's what we aspire to every year.
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#278 User is offline   Bard-kun 

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:53 PM

Supposedly PAX pays its entire staff minimum wage but does not cover their hotel rooms. I wonder how that'd work out with ACen...
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#279 User is offline   Roark 

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 10:04 PM

Gen Con has the right idea on volunteer policy. It's pretty sleek: http://www.gencon.co...teer/volunteers

This post has been edited by Roark: 02 April 2013 - 10:05 PM


#280 User is offline   Fate Averruncus 

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:20 PM

I never thought I'd say this, but I question this, too. I've been attending since ACen 2002, and when I first attended, ACen was everything I was looking for in an anime con. It had nothing but anime related panels, plenty of industry guests (both American and Japanese), a dealer's room with a wide selection, and was full of friendly people who loved anime as much as I do. It stayed like this until.. 2008 or so, I think. Concerts suddenly started costing something other than admission. Panels slide by that shouldn't have been allowed to. The dealer's room sells less and less anime merchandise, and more and more 'geek' merchandise. The focus instead now seems to be turning to fashion, general geekdom, and raves. And it SHOULD NOT BE. I mean, we do not need THREE raves. The Soap Bubble was/is plenty. It seemed to be enough then, and it definitely is enough now. Having one dance would cut down on the ravers who dislike anime or anime fans who come just for the rave. It may not eliminate them entirely, but it would cause them to come in fewer numbers. After all, they would only get one rave instead of two for free, and it would become less desirable for them. Which is GOOD. I personally hate these kinds of people. Why come to an ANIME con if you HATE ANIME? They just make everyone else have less of a good time with their attitudes.
As for why I feel it's turning into just general geekdom.. for one thing, many of the panels in the last few years don't relate to anime. As much as I like Steampunk fashion, unless it's in a particular anime, it does NOT relate to Japan, anime, or Japanese culture as a whole. And one year, there was a Mortal Kombat panel, and there was a panel on DC comics last year. These do NOT relate to Japan. I know that a few video game panels are allowed, but Mortal Kombat just seems out of place at an anime con. And I know those are only some of the irrelevant panels. And there were entirely too many Homestuck panels last year. I know there are a small number of webcomic panels allowed, but two panels for one NON-JAPANESE webcomic is a bit excessive. And as for the fashion thing, it seems we're getting more and more fashion based guests, and more and more fashion panels are popping up. I know that they do relate to Japan, but it's still a bit excessive. Maybe it should be toned down a bit?
This year, ACen seems to be going a good job with this. They aren't in excess this year, but there are still enough of them to represent that aspect of Japanese culture.
As for the dealer's room.. the amount of non-anime/Japan related stands lately is upsetting. I saw too many general geek stands for comfort last year. Movie t-shirts, movie posters, Steampunk clothes, and glow sticks are NOT anime or Japan related. And it seemed there were even more of these than usual last year. I remember I had a hard time finding a DVD I was looking for. Not because it was sold out. But because there were so FEW stands selling them. >_<;.
Overall, Last year was a BIT better than the previous years at being relevant, but it still contained too many irrelevant panels, too many fashion related guests, and still had the problem with the raves. And this year, it LOOKS like it's getting better. But we'll have to wait until later to confirm this. If the trend keeps up like it seems to this year, then yes, I would say it still is an anime con. If everything suddenly goes down from here, then I would have to answer kind of, sadly.
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Posted 09 April 2013 - 10:10 AM

Wait, 3 raves? I thought we had two raves and one formal.
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Posted 09 April 2013 - 11:29 AM

View PostBard-kun, on 09 April 2013 - 10:10 AM, said:

Wait, 3 raves? I thought we had two raves and one formal.


That's what it is. 3 dances total, only two that are "raves".
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#283 User is offline   Fate Averruncus 

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 08:14 PM

Oops. My bad. I had heard that the Crystal Ball ended up being a rave, so I had originally typed three with this in mind. I ended up changing my mind later a few lines later--I didn't want to say that the Crystal Ball was another rave without knowing for sure--so I changed the post to read two later on. I just realized that I forgot to change the original line after. ^^;. I had meant two. The second rave is still one too many IMO, though. Like I said, the Soap Bubble was once enough, and I feel it still is enough.
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Posted 10 April 2013 - 10:56 PM

I've been coming to ACen for seven years now, and I have to say that I still love it and look forward to it every year. I do agree that we are finding more and more topics that are not of the anime kinds or are unrelated. I'm pretty indifferent on this though; I look forward to seeing all the hard work that people put into their panels, booths or cosplays, regardless of where or what they stand for.

I love anime and I love manga and I love video games. Everything I do at the con is usually based around them. I'm just hoping that things don't dwindle down too much; I might have to stop going, too.

In regards to the Soap Bubble: I enjoy it every year. I usually just end up going later on in the night/early morning when the line is gone with some friends, stay for an hour, and leave. We usually just end up in our own little circle of goofy-ness somewhere away from everyone. What I have noticed though (and I'm sure others have) is that there are plenty of people who come solely on Saturday for the Soap Bubble alone. Last year, the suite next to mine was filled with underage and older men and women who were partying and just came for the rave to get drunk. One of the guys even tried to pick-up my friend. THIS, I don't agree with. But, at the same time, it's not like they can really be stopped if they purchased badges. The biggest problem I have with the Soap Bubble is the underage drinking more than anything. But, kids will be kids. I just hope that someone puts their foot down, or at least tries to regulate this some what. I've seen plenty of people passed out from who knows what. What happens if someone ends up dead? You never know with what goes in and out of the con on that Saturday night.

Anyways, I digress. I love the con, but have been a tad disappointed here and there. Like I said, Saturday night is the only real time I have any issues with the con; the ravers can get crazy.

This post has been edited by MizukiMidnight: 10 April 2013 - 10:58 PM

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 04:42 PM

View PostDark Spellmaster, on 22 February 2013 - 06:03 PM, said:

Something to consider for alternitives to the dances at night for people who want something fun to do that fits in with ACen's view.

1. ACen's GOT TALENT, or ANIME BANDS: I got this idea after seeing a few skits and reading a few older comments to a thread about the fact that there's a lot of singing acts in more the masqurade. What this would entail is basically musical acts that want to preform songs from a show (anime, jrpg, visual novel game, possibly orignal stuff, etc) and the audience can vote on who's the Best, if you will. They win some sort of small prize, either maybe some discout to a local shop, maybe something to the new place they have across the way at Rosmont, or a movie co gift set. Something fun for people to go see and enjoy that doesn't include dancing.

2. Slumber Party Event: What eoes this mean, well what it sounds like. One big slumber party. Basically people can come in their PJs (no boxers or just undies people please) and sit down to watch a cool anime, play some games, and just have a fun time that revolves around anime or Japanese culture.

3. Host Club experince/Maid Cafe: Basically what it sounds like. Volenteers or Cosplayers, basically act as Butlers or Maids or other form of character and sit and talk to the fans. This can also have a story to it and the customers can play in. Much like a dinner theater event. I know there are probably some actors and actresses that come to ACen that this could be a good chance for pratice and fun too.

4. Japanese Game show: Event is basically based on the Japanese game shows only it wouldn't involve insane and dangerous stunts. The idea is for it to be amusing and fans can win small prizes. Again nothing like money but something like a gift certificat to one of the local shops or maybe something online, like Right stuf or Funimation can supply a prize or two. Maybe a discount at their booth, or one of the vendors could.

As for the AMV's I was rather sad to hear about that. I was hoping to see more since I just really started to get into them as a whole.


Heck, I would still be ALL down for a good, honest down-to-earth Spring Matsuri. String up Main Programming to look like one of those nighttime romance anime things. Instead of having food, maybe have little games at the booths, allow attendees to do kimono and yukata, etc..

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 04:52 PM

View Postcactusmomma, on 09 May 2013 - 04:42 PM, said:

Heck, I would still be ALL down for a good, honest down-to-earth Spring Matsuri. String up Main Programming to look like one of those nighttime romance anime things. Instead of having food, maybe have little games at the booths, allow attendees to do kimono and yukata, etc..


That sounds like a really fun idea!

#287 User is offline   manga1 

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 02:24 PM

I agree, a matasuri sounds fun, I would also love more cultural stuff, about the mythology of japan, or about tea, or studying overseas during a pannel, infact this year the cherry blossom festival is takeing place the same weekend as ACen so I problably wont get to go :unsure: , it gets over at six on sunday in indiana, and will take time to get home from rosmont as fort wayne is the northeast corner of indiana so its a good 3 1/2 hour drive.

#288 User is offline   Dark Spellmaster 

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 06:55 PM

View Postcactusmomma, on 09 May 2013 - 04:42 PM, said:

Heck, I would still be ALL down for a good, honest down-to-earth Spring Matsuri. String up Main Programming to look like one of those nighttime romance anime things. Instead of having food, maybe have little games at the booths, allow attendees to do kimono and yukata, etc..


Love this idea, I would pay extra to have that sort of event. It would be great way to have an infusion of Japanes culture.
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#289 User is offline   Sayuri-chan 

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 04:03 AM

View PostDark Spellmaster, on 10 May 2013 - 06:55 PM, said:

Love this idea, I would pay extra to have that sort of event. It would be great way to have an infusion of Japanes culture.



I would adore this! And give attendees links to trusted sites/stores, maybe arrange some sort of convention discount with them so that yukata and kimono can be ordered pre-convention to wear at the event.
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#290 User is offline   Bloo09 

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 04:34 AM

You guys have some awesome brain storming going and we'd love to hear and consider your ideas for 2014. So I've made a new topic for folks to post their event ideas and we'll look them over in our meetings after the convention. I'm looking forward to seeing some great creativity! http://www.ACen.org/...ts-do-you-want/
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