I first attended the Imaginarium with Imadjinn Book Fair & Expo in 2017. That experience disappointed, to be both succinct and mild. I decided not to return. After hearing that the event had improved, I reconsidered, registered, and attended the 2019 event. I'm glad I did.
We drove to Louisville, KY. I picked Cindra up and introduced her to the humor of deceased comedian John Pinette on the drive. (Thanks go to Spotify and my car's connection with my cell phone.) Funny, funny man! We made jokes about gluten all weekend long.
Event organizers (again) lost the record of my friend's registration. Cindra took the lapse with her usual good humor and a shrug. After the disorganization of the registration table, we easily found my vendor table in the second row. Decent placement it turns out, because many of those in "E" and "F" rows received almost nothing in the way of attendee traffic. Set-up took about 10 minutes, including bringing stuff in and taking it back out to the car. (How much I can stuff into a MINI Cooper would surprise you.) Otherwise event organization appeared to be on the ball, with session room signs properly posted for each day. It was nice to have a concession stand in the vendor hall where we could purchase food and beverages.
The vendor hall was open to the public from 2:00 - 6:00 on Friday. No pipe and drape this time, except for a few vendors along one wall. As always, some tables remained empty. I figure the vendor hall contain about 40 - 50 authors and another 10 - 15 other vendors. (Registered attendance was rumored around 1200 people.) Attendee traffic within the vendor hall was light. (I don't believe anyone from the general public wandered into the vendor hall the entire weekend, as it's not located in an area of much pedestrian traffic. Everyone I saw either wore event staff name badges or tee shirt, vendor badges, or attendee badges.)
Saturday went well. Vendor hall traffic exceeded my low expectations and I sold several books. I spoke to several people, probably scaring a few who approached me about editing. I tend to become both passionate and strident on the topic when they're looking for nothing more than a quick, superficial overview. I try to scale back, but don't always succeed. Occasionally, someone called out "God save the queen!" and received an echo of responses. I didn't know what that was about, so I bucked the trend: "Off with her head!" Someone else called out "Viva la révolution!" That one made me chuckle.
On Sunday, we heard crickets. A handful of attendees wandered through the vendor hall. I sold no books. Panelists in session rooms spoke mainly to empty rooms or a mere handful of attendees. Vendors departed like rats fleeing a sinking ship. Cindra and I left a few hours early, too. I got her home at sunset and I pulled home after dark.
On the drive home, I introduced Cindra to the humor of Bill Engvall, another really funny man. I think she particularly enjoyed his "Here's your sign" quips.
Overall, I'm pleased. The Imaginarium and Imadjinn Book Fair & Expo was much improved from the 2017 event. The venue, however, left much to be desired.
The Ramada Plaza Hotel & Convention Center left much to be desired. That was the third time I visited the property. The first two times, the hotel and conference center struck me as lower end and run down. This third time, the hotel was under renovation. The overwhelmed front desk clerk--lovely, helpful, patient woman--had to make the best of telling hotel guests of the lack of amenities, like no pool, no on-site restaurant, no elevators, and no hot water, among other annoyances. The hotel provided a complimentary breakfast--which it did not before--but that breakfast, too, failed to meet even the most modest of expectations. Sorry, folks, but orange-flavored Tang does not substitute for orange juice. On Saturday, Cindra and I--in separate rooms--both ran the showers for 10 minutes before the water ventured from cold into tepid. Unacceptable.
The conference center is worn and tired. Property staff did not keep the women's restroom properly stocked with hand soap or toilet paper. None of the paper towel dispensers was stocked and only two of the three hand dryers functioned.
Cindra and I met some lovely, friendly people and plan to return in 2020. We hope to join the cosplay fun and wear steampunk costume on the event's main day (Saturday); however, if the event is held at the same location, we'll be staying elsewhere.