Nekocon is, in general, a nicely-planned con. I wasn't able to go last year (for more than an hour), but this year I can tell it's shifting up a size or two. I don't just mean the fact that it was in the (utterly fabulous) Hampton Roads Convention Centre. Although, you know, yes, that has something to do with it.
The first thing that stuck out in my mind was the fact that, while many main events were heavily attended, they were pretty sparsely participated in. Perhaps there were some cutoffs in participation that I don't know about, but honestly, I expected a lot more cosplayers. Karaoke wasn't quite so big a deal, as there are people like me just getting off work and coming in late ... that's understandable. But for whatever reason, it seems Nekocongoers don't want to participate as much as they want to watch.
As for the cosplay ... erm ... sorry, guys. Wow. There were five judges. One looked like his brain had died, one was drawing angry pictures, and the other three of us were drinking. I suppose that goes along with the sparse participation. This isn't a message to the con staff, but more to the attendees. Do stuff. I remember when the Nekotypes really did things. Don't know why that's died per se, but I'm hoping it comes back.
Dealer's room, nice. I'm not sure about the decision to put the art show in a corner of it, though. Utilisation of large spaces seemed to be a bit skewed in many respects besides that. It was nice to have Main Programming so huge, but when the acoustics are that lousy, either the room needs to be divided, or some sort of technical measures should be taken. (Don't ask me how ... I just report.)
Artist's alley, very nice. I wasn't sitting in it, but I could tell the people who had the tables were doing pretty well. It was in a good area - right on the way to Main Programming - it wasn't crowded, and a few lucky artists got the sun on their backs to keep 'em warm. I'm glad staff decided to use the largest hallway. As silly as it sounds, some cons cram the tables into the narrow halls. We've all seen it.
Panel rooms? Nice. Didn't seem crowded, but I only went to one really highly attended panel. Video game room was pretty cool, although I do question their choice of putting Puzzle Fighter on the big screen when they had DDR.
I will be curious to see what direction Nekocon grows in. It seems to be becoming more a spectator sport, unfortunately. There was some game show participation, and admittedly some participation elsewhere. But I'd like to see this stay an active con for as long as possible.