Regarding SHareCon 2021

When I reserved space to hold SHareCon in October 2021, I did so with a sense of optimism and because, practically speaking, you can’t throw a con at the last minute. I asked the fandom to respond to our attendance survey to find out if my optimism was warranted. If enough people can’t attend, we can’t pay the bills. So realistic expectations are important.

In the meantime, while vaccines were becoming more available, Covid was still the ugly reality. Covid… and fear.

Thanks to everyone who filled out the attendance survey. I appreciate your input and it was a big help to know what potential attendees thought. Only 25 people were confident they would come. Normally, we host around 50 at SHareCon.

Another 25 fen posted that “maybe” they would come, but many of them wrote me privately about their fear of traveling by plane (67 percent of people attending SHareCon arrive by plane). Others talked to me about their responsibility to ageing (and susceptible) relatives. It wasn’t just SHareCon goers in danger of Covid, it was older parents, autoimmune compromised family members, and dependents who, for various health reasons, couldn’t take vaccines.

I had just about made a decision to cancel the in-person con when the CDC announced that people who were vaccinated could interact with others, indoors or out, without masks. Since I kept saying I would only hold the con if we could interact normally throughout the weekend without masks, I read a lot of reports on the CDC decision. And then I read peoples’ comments on social media. The fear of this disease, and the way the disease has been managed through the last year and a half has led to a great deal of confusion.

Despite the optimistic announcement of the CDC, the reality is that as of right now, only 37 percent of the country has been vaccinated. You still need to be masked on transportation (including planes). And you can still catch Covid after vaccination, just in a much milder version. Some officials are concerned about what might happen with Covid in the fall when kids go back to school and cool weather sends everyone back indoors.

This reminds me that many times while attending cons in the past, we’ve come home with that unwanted gift known as “con crud.” Catching really nasty colds from someone who doesn’t know they’re already infectious or starts sneezing the day after they arrive is practically a fandom tradition. Covid puts an ominous slant on these experiences.

The bottom line is, we can’t afford to throw a con for 25 people. We need 45-50 to pay the bills. In spite of how optimistic the CDC announcement makes things seem, I think this is the wrong year to throw an in-person con. Things might look different in October. Everything might be open, and concerns about Covid surges and variations might be behind us. Or another surge could occur with corresponding changes to the guidelines. But we can’t wait on this decision.

So, we’re going to throw our energy into the virtual SHareCon; I’ve always wanted there to be more virtual content at SHareCon, so this will be a good year to ramp that up. We’ll try to reserve the hotel for October 2022, when, I hope, we can have a real blowout.

I’m hoping you’re not too disappointed, and I suspect many of you won’t be surprised. Maybe you’ll even be relieved. Feel free to weigh in here, or comment privately to me at flamingoslim at verizon dot net. This was not an easy decision to make and I’ll miss seeing everyone in person this year. But given the way the situation keeps changing from day to day, this makes the most sense. Thanks.