Sierra Nevada Anime Fans Unite convention Aka, SNAFU is an event that has become one of my yearly pleasures. I have been attending the convention for over 5 years, with this year being my fourth as a member of the press. In some circles, going to a convention in Reno, Nevada is a pretty big deal and for others, I would not blame them for scoffing at the mere idea of a convention in northern Nevada.
SNAFU, since its earliest days, is about anime and the fandom that has grown around it and while this convention has quite readily lived up to its acronym, it has also been one of the most warm, friendly, and just plain memorable conventions I have had the chance to attend. It is a smaller convention, relatively speaking, to those who may be more familiar with San Diego Comic Con, Anime Expo, or the like. Yet it is in this size, that I have found myself having a far better experience.
Seriously, let us take a look at the experiences of Jeremy and Gretchen Winkler at San Diego Comic con, they talked about not being able to see even a fraction of the vendor hall, of lines stretching for rooms in length, of high prices and people waiting for panels for hours so that they can ensure they get a seat.
However, there are some issues on the small convention side. In the case of SNAFU this year, a significant number of the convention staff had to step back due to the other 360 days of the year. Life happens, but it can cause issues. In this case, there was a sudden lack of panels and content. They were badly undermanned, even with a healthy supply of volunteers. Locations were marked wrong, maps were incorrect, and a series of last minute dropouts and additions were not made quite so clear. Their trusty badge printer went down and they spent countless hours printing their generic green weekend passes for all of the pre-registered attendees in attempts to try and laminate on the fly as they could, which led to a bit of confusion at the registration lines.
They handled it quite well. Maybe that is due to the attendees being understanding or they just did what they could do with what they had and made it work. By Saturday morning they seemed to have had most of the bigger issues solved and things were back to business as usual and to be honest, I have never seen a convention that didn’t have its own behind the scenes frantic messes.
The thing is though, even with its problems, SNAFU pulls together a splendid convention. It never feels too crowded, there is no massive line to get to meet their guests or worry that you wont get a seat at the panel you want to see. I’m always left feeling tired after con, but SNAFU leaves me feeling like I’m having to leave a good friend behind till next year.
What more is there to really say about such a convention? It is what you would hope for in a convention,72 hours of anime playing in the video room, gaming tables, warm and friendly artists, guests, and vendors, unique and inspiring panels, competitions, cosplay, karaoke, videogames… there is so much more that it is hard to list.
As always, I look forward to next year and if you want to check it out for yourself, they tend to update their site in spring and they are active on social media, so keep an eye on it for 2019.