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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

North American Discworld Convention 2011; Madison WI,

This weekend my friend and I met up and headed down to Madison for the North American Discworld Convention, a four day fantasy convention that revolves solely around the world created by Sir Terry Pratchett  (or his UK link here).  Sir Terry was in attendance as Guest of Honor, and from my understanding this may be his last US appearance.  I could be wrong about that tho...I would like to be wrong about that...

This was a slightly different convention from what we usually attend; again 1)  it revolved around a single theme - Discworld. 2) lots more hall costumes 3) a younger crowd (which is great to see at a convention!) and 4) not a heck of a lot of panels that interested us so we were left to our own devises a fair amount, and usually in the mornings.

WI state capitol and art fair
 Which we filled up by attending the Madison Art Fair on the Square. bloody huge to paraphrase our British attendees.  It's two rows of tents - or about 375 vendors -  surrounding the entire capitol square, and down one side street, with artists from across the nation.  This is also high end art. Or, to put in another perspective - expensive.  We endured the masses - and I do mean masses - of people on Saturday morning from about 9a till Noon when we pleaded Merci! and fled back to the hotel for afternoon programming.  The next morning we ventured out again at 9a - show didn't open till 10a - and found a few vendors open.  I bought a small photograph that had grabbed my attention the day before, and my friend found two small photos that she picked up for her office. 

Lunch was a selection of goodies from the much reduced Madison Farmers Market, that was wedged in on a side street.

But, convention.  I/we attended mostly afternoon programing that Sir Terry was at:

Sign says it all...
Friday - Movie Premiere "Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die"  (read the Wikipedia link) Very thought provoking.
Saturday - Talking with Terry; the Masquerade
Sunday - Good Omens Discussion; with a surprise appearance by Neil Gaiman!  Woot!  Then later we watched the Color of Magic in the movie room. 
Monday - Closing Ceremonies and reading of Where's My Cow?

This was my first visit to Madison since a family vacation oh...about 35 years ago.  We spent a great deal of time walking up and down State Street with it's varied shops and many many restaurants.  We walked around the inside of the Wisconsin State Capitol with it's beautiful marble stonework and architecture.  We wanted to go to the War Museum but alas, it was closed on Monday when it was raining.  We saw Monona Terrace (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) over looking Lake Monona.  I would have liked to have grabbed a rental bike and biked around the lake a bit but an opportunity never really came up. Another trip perhaps.

Monday really didn't have much for programming except for closing ceremonies at 3p, so off to the Madison Arboretum we went...well, after the severe weather went through that is. 

One of three turkeys on the immediate grounds

The Arboretum was sadly...disappointing.  I've been to others (including the University of Minnesota's) and this was by far the most underwhelming and least diverse.  We wandered around through the grove of tree species, watching the turkeys and getting wet feet. 

It was too early to head back to the hotel by far, so we made our way to the Zoo!  This was decent little zoo, with well maintained habitats, some closed for renovations, other looking very new. 

Who will be the lucky goat?

The long weekend ended with a trip to Taliesin, the Wisconsin home of Frank Lloyd Wright.  I've always had a fascination with Mr. Wrights work and one of my dreams is to someday tour Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.  But, this was just as great an opportunity in my opinion!  My friend and I did a two hour house tour, which encompassed the grounds around the house and part of the main house itself.  Only part because a family lives in the other section and the rest is residences for the Architectural School that is in residence.  Two hours was plenty - a person could easily spend a half day here.  Another time I'll go back and tour more.   

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