PortCon Maine is New England's oldest anime and gaming convention, held annually in southern Maine. The fan-based convention's organizers are committed to maintaining a relaxed, small-convention atmosphere which focuses on promoting socialization among attendees, guests, artists, and performers.
PortCon Maine selected the theme "Top Secret" for its thirteenth annual convention, and broke previous attendance records with over 3,000 congoers participating in the event over the course of the weekend. The guest list was somewhat short this year; voice actors included Amber Nash, Keith Silverstein, and Lucky Yates, as well as the 3.5 Geeks podcast and special effects artist Eric Anderson. The only performers were the musicians Crunk Witch. The convention seemed somewhat more sparse of things to do this year, though reoccurring events remained, including a cosplay parade, boffing tournament, Anime Unscripted, and a garage sale for con attendees trying to make some extra cash. They also had an excellent game room this year with lots of original offerings including Atari consoles and fan-designed games. Unfortunately, PortCon continues to run up against issues with limited space in its current location, despite a slowly growing attendee list. However the community atmosphere which attracts so many to PortCon year after remains strong.
Sketch and I arrived in South Portland Thursday around 8PM, picked up our badges, and grabbed dinner before returning to the hotel. Friday morning we dropped off our merchandise at PortCon’s garage sale before meeting up with EllyStar, who had made matching Princess Peach and Princess Daisy costumes from Super Mario Bros. for the two of us. I was excited to try on Daisy, and although I was worried it would be too hot, the fabric was breathable and I was really comfy in it. We had a blast wandering around the convention together! That afternoon we walked over to the Maine Mall still in costume, and EllyStar found a Question Block box from Super Mario Bros. that was made to hold Wii figures, and she bought it to use as a purse. The Best Buy staff got a huge kick out of Princess Daisy buying a Question Box from them at the register, and asked to take photos with us. On our way out, we stopped at the carousel in the mall and bought tickets to ride the horses! The guy got a kick out of our costumes and the little kids all wanted to meet us. We climbed aboard – side saddle, of course – and Sketch took photos as we whirled around. PatD arrived just as our ride was winding down, and we waved to him from our horses before disembarking. It was so much fun!
Saturday morning Sketch and I got into Sango and Miroku from InuYasha and hit the con. We did a small photoshoot in the empty field next to the convention center, especially of Miroku since we did not get many good shots of Sketch’s new costume at Anime Boston. We also ran into several other InuYasha fans and took photos with both and InuYasha and a really cute Rin! That afternoon I changed into Nurse Joy from Pokemon and hung out with EllyStar as Officer Jenny. We performed in Anime Unscripted at main events, which went pretty well. It wasn’t quite as funny as last year, but it’s always an enjoyable experience. After dinner, EllyStar and I went about the process of destroying our Princess Peach and Daisy costumes to make post-apocalyptic versions. We cut them with scissors, tore them, took them outside and stomped on them in the dirt, lit parts of them on fire in the hotel room sink, and stained them with fake blood. EllyStar had made vests to go with them which had a mushroom on the back of Peach’s vest and a fire flower on the back of mine. She had also painted some guns to look futuristic and match our colors. The end result looked pretty cool and quite a few people got what we were going for. Sketch did a photoshoot of us outside in a few settings once it got dark. We hit up the rave for a bit which was a lot of fun; I ended up with glowsticks in my crown and accenting several parts of my costume before I left the dance floor. When we returned for the hotel for the night we packed up all of our stuff other than a change of clothes and moved it into the car around 1am. We heard it was supposed to downpour in the morning and wanted to avoid having to move things in the middle of a deluge.
When we woke up we were very grateful we had decided to pack up the car last night; it was raining cats and dogs! Sketch backed up the car to the hotel entrance and I still got completely soaked just running to the passenger door. We went out for breakfast and ran some errands before returning to the convention for the afternoon. The rain had let up a bit, but not much, and I felt bad for the congoers trying to protect their costumes from the water. One of the main drawbacks of the convention is that PortCon has such a small venue that being outside is not particularly avoidable, even when staying at the host hotel. We stuck around until the garage sale let out at 3pm; we left with less than 1 box of things left and a couple of hundred bucks in our pockets, which was fantastic. We said our goodbyes and headed home. I’m not sure we’ll do this convention for much longer; it’s difficult to find things to do and fewer of our friends go each year, making even socializing less engaging. I think we might try to get a bunch of people there next year and that will be it.