CosFest 2015 took place in Mesa, Arizona on July 25th.
The first thing that I really noticed about the event was that the organization was abysmal. I had a media pass, but I needed to purchase a ticket for my husband. The Facebook event page for Cosfest had a notice that you could PM or email Candie’s Characters, the people running/sponsoring the event, for discount tickets. It took them three days to answer my initial email, and several more days to send me the ticket (I didn’t get the ticket until the morning of the event, when I’d emailed about a week in advance). That wasn’t a very pleasant first contact experience, and I think it colored my view of the event going into it.
The event was held in a space that is basically a huge warehouse. There were two bars available, an assortment of vendors and booths, a place to take photos and have your photo taken with the big cosplay groups that were in attendance, a dance floor, and a panel area. The space wasn’t air conditioned very well, and was less than ideal for running around in full costume. My costume wasn’t particularly hot, and I felt overheated most of the time. I can’t imagine how bad it was for the people in actual leather or many layers. In the Arizona heat, events like this really need the a/c turned up. The anime cons I’ve gone to here have had free water available so everyone stayed hydrated, and that would have been very useful here. (Phoenix Comicon doesn’t have free water available either, I am aware, but the convention center is at least very cool in temperature.)
The panels were held in an area that was blocked off, with an elevated stage. However, there was no signage or anything on the schedule indicating where that was. I found it eventually (the space wasn’t THAT big), but some indication of where to find anything at all would have been useful.
I attended a couple of panels. The first one lasted literally ten minutes. I later did speak with the panelist and realized they’d never done a panel before and were nervous, which is understandable. Still, it bears mentioning. The other panel I attended started late and ran well over time, so I didn’t even see the next panel. (Those panelists also did not come on time, based on what the schedule said.) The lack of organization was really a put off for me.
The vendors were okay, and there were reasonably priced items as well as high priced items. The food available at the venue was decently priced as well.
I was surprised that the demographic that showed up for this tended to be largely 30ish men; usually at events for cosplay, I see many more women and teenagers. There were many of those groups, too, of course, it just seemed very dominated by men a little older than I am. Everyone seemed to be pretty respectful of cosplayers, which was good to see. There were a lot of very impressive costumes, which was also great to see.
The well-known cosplayers that I interacted with at the event were all very gracious and welcoming, which isn’t always the case, so I was really glad to have that experience with them. The vendors I interacted with were all also really great. I think the people in attendance made the event better, but I would definitely say that it would not have been worth the $33 anyone purchasing a ticket from the website would have paid.
With a better venue and more structure, this event could probably turn into something worth attending, but for this year, I’d say 2 out of 5 stars.