Buried in northern Wisconsin, in a town that many have heard of but few have visited, I found Kitsune Kon.
Kitsune Kon is a convention held annually in Green Bay, WI at the Ki Convention Center. The attendee population seemed to be largely Wisconsin locals, with many people telling me that Kitsune was the only convention they attended each year. Attendance was last recorded to be almost 2,500 in 2015, but it’s clear that Kitsune has grown since and will continue expanding.
First, the positives. Kitsune Kon perfectly fit the medium-sized Ki Convention Center, which was close to the banks of the Fox River. The nearby scenery was beautiful, perfect for cosplay photoshoots. I saw many cosplayers getting their picture taken by the sparkling water, near patches of flowers, or along the quaint riverwalk. In general, the number and skill level of cosplayers at the con was surprisingly high; sign-ups for the cosplay contest were filled by Friday afternoon, and there were 4-5 talented cosplayers serving as judges.
The Artists’ Alley was another pleasant surprise. There were quite a few talented artists exhibiting at Kitsune Kon this year, including Pui Che, who boasted an assortment of ethereal canvas paintings, and JimboBox and LucidSky, a fan art power couple based out of Minnesota–definitely not the caliber of artists you’d expect exhibiting at a con the size of Kitsune. The Dealers’ Hall combined with the Artists’ Alley, with the standard fare of figurines, manga, and other assorted merchandise.
Now, onto the negatives–and they were numerous. Firstly, the website and program book were both poorly organized and had very little overlap of information between the two. The website, in particular, has a homepage that randomly lists updates without sorting them to the appropriate website subsection. Many cosplayers were unaware of scheduled meetups that didn’t make it into the program book and were flooded away by other updates on the website.
Although all the con staff that I interacted with were helpful and courteous, the convention did seem generally understaffed. Staffers were calling for volunteers at the con in exchange for a weekend pass, which seemed both desperate and unprofessional. Events often ran behind schedule, with cosplay judging running a whole hour late.
Finally, despite the lovely riverfront location, there were very few convenient dining options for Kitsune Kon attendees. There was none of the usual convention fare–McDonald’s, Subway, other fast food–within a short walking distance from the convention center, and the only feasible options for most attendees in cosplay was the hotel buffet. Additionally, on the rare occasion that cosplayers ventured out, many experienced heckling or vocalized judgement from townsfolk. Unlike in most cities I’ve attended cons in, Green Bay residents were not happy to host Kitsune Kon.
My final opinion? Kitsune Kon is a fun, smaller convention, but not worth driving more than two hours or so for. This local con is definitely going to stay local.
*All images sourced from Justin Pineda’s Kitsune Kon 2017 – Cosplay Music Video with permission*