So, another year has come and gone, and I end my year of conventions once again at Yama Con. While this is a convention, I am very well familiar this year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the event, which means expect something bigger to celebrate such a big milestone. Now Yama Con is one of the few events that I have gone to several times and that’s because of what it uniquely has to offer and the fact that it’s ran pretty smoothly, so to see this milestone happen I was excited to see what was in store for me this year.
Per usual, I’ll talk about the guests first and this event featured the usual guests that attend yearly like Johnny Young Bosch and Paul St. Peter but also some additional guests like Cristina Vee and Keith Silverstein. What I liked was how the theme of this year’s event was Decades and the guests they brought in represented popular shows from several different eras. You had actors that played notable characters in Dragonball Z, Bleach, Seven Deadly Sins, Sailor Moon, Demon Slayer and the list goes on, so it really felt like a great tribute to some of the greatest animes of all eras. Sadly, the event did have some issues with cancellations which lasted right up to near the event but that has nothing to do with the quality of convention itself that was just a circumstance of poor luck. It was just something frustrating to me personally because the guest that cancelled, I really hoped to see, was replaced by another guest I really wanted to see but also had to cancel. The convention really did a smart job picking guests that well represented the theme which was perfect for its 10th anniversary. I also liked how they did away with the autograph policy they tried last year. Instead of having guests move to another signing spot during free sessions, guests just signed for free at their tables during the designated time slot for free autographs. While not all guests offered this a few did and they for the most part ran very smoothly. The only real issue I had was they had QR codes on the badges to scan and determine if the badge was used for the autograph session or not and while this seems like a good idea in theory it also means groups with multiple badges would have to keep track of which badge was used for which autograph session if they did not take the time or prefer not to write their own names on the badges. This is why I personally prefer the use of a hole punch more because it creates an easy-to-read situation that I feel makes things better for both staff and fans alike.
Panels is where I felt like the convention really stepped up its performance to meet the demand of celebrating this achievement. You did have your usual Q&A panels and a wide variety of fan ran panels but the convention changed venues to one that had way more space for the convention ran parties so there was a lot of stuff added like pool parties, movies, more 18+ panels which just made for a more exciting atmosphere than what we have gotten in previous years. This in addition to what the convention offered inside the convention center really made for a wide array of fun stuff to do. Plus, as always you have local attractions at The Island in Pigeon Forge, TN which is available via a quick tram ride at the entrance to the convention center. The combination of the parties, the events at the convention itself and the easy access to the attractions makes this convention one that offers a unique experience in comparison to the numerous other conventions I’ve attended. There was literally never a dull moment. Plus having a host hotel with a pool that features a waterfall and a 24-hour hot tub is a huge plus. The only real complaint I had doesn’t even have anything to do with the convention itself, I just found that the second floor of the hotel had a really weird smell to it for some reason which thankfully stayed in the hallways and did not go into our room.
The vendors were a lot of fun too. It had a lot of the vendors that I saw last year and many of them had merchandise that made me want to browse through them again this time around. They also had one of my favorite vendors Anime Enthusiasts United which is a huge plus for me because not only do I like their merch, but I greatly enjoy hanging out with the staff. As always there was plenty of room to walk around the entire area, so I never felt crowded, and I had no difficulty at all looking around even during the busiest times of the weekend. This is actually one of the few conventions where I feel like they could easily add more vendors and still manage to have the same effectiveness with the space. You also have space available to play board games, VR games, arcade games and so much more. Space was never any kind of an issue at this event.
I also really like how Yama Con places the booths for other conventions. In my experience sometimes booths for other cons are put in spaces that don’t get as much foot traffic, but here you essentially have to see most if not all of the vendors marketing their own respective events before you reach the vendors, and this is something I think is really cool. In fact, I saw an event happening next year that featured a guest I didn’t even know was coming anywhere close to my area that I really wanted to see so I’m already making plans to see if I can attend.
Overall Yama Con really had an amazing 10th year celebration. They continued to feature their faithful dedication to a system that allows for easy shopping, plenty of stuff to do while keeping everything well organized. To raise the bar for this milestone the parties the convention had were some of the best it’s ever held and fans like myself absolutely loved it. I am very thankful to attend this year’s event and to be a part of this achievement. I wish I could say I will attend next year but my wife and I have been planning a cruise for a while now, which was halted due to Covid, and the new dates for the trip conflict with Yama Con 2023 but I’ll be sure to come back in 2024.