Well, the good news is: TCAF was packed!
The bad news is, well, there were too many people in too little space. It quickly became painfully obvious that TCAF has outgrown its venue, especially since the Toronto Reference Library is undergoing a renovation. I get the feeling that, on the first floor (where the Atrium Exhibitors are), everything and everyone got smushed into a much smaller space than they usually have or it just seemed smaller because the space was cut off due to said renovation. The aisles between tables seemed incredibly small, which may just be my mind playing tricks on me (because of the crowd) or because everything was actually wedged in.
Unlike most cons, where you tend to do the slow shuffle along the tables (weaving in and out when you need to), there were just so many people that you couldn’t SEE the tables (people were shoved along the tables three or four deep), making browsing impossible when it came to looking at the Atrium Exhibitors. This was pretty disappointing, as I’ve had a lot of luck finding new authors and artists this way. By the second aisle, I gave up and retreated to the second floor where the Salon Exhibitors were located.
Upstairs, I noticed seemed a little more open – there was still a crowd but it didn’t feel so oppressive and claustrophobic. Still there was enough of a crowd to make browsing more difficult than usual, but no more than on a busy day at a con. You could, in fact, move, making it a vast deal better than the space downstairs.
I ended up calling it a day after only a couple of hours as I’m back tomorrow and there was no pressing need to see everything today. And, yes, I know it’s a free event, so who am I to criticize space issues, HOWEVER, at the point where you can’t see what you are there, in fact, to see (especially if you only have a couple hours to spend at the event), I can see how it would be incredibly frustrating. Hell, I’m disappointed and I’m returning to the event tomorrow.
As aggravating as the crowds were, I’m quite thrilled that there was such an awesome turnout.
Shelley Smarz is a comic book scholar and a businesswoman. She’s strategically planning her return to TCAF tomorrow so she can be sure to see everything she wants to. TCAF is being held at the Toronto Reference Library (789 Yonge Street) and reopens tomorrow at 11am. You can see the floor plan here, a list of exhibitors here, the signing schedules is here, and a list of panels and programming here. Drop by if you get a chance.