Dawn Patrol plane logo          "BYOCon" 

        (Bring Your Own CON)

A casual gathering of the Dawn Patrol and friends
including a celebration of Wm Mark Simmons birthday
AKA: Chilly-Con-Charlie
February 20 - 22,

Grand Prairie Hotel & Convention Center
1400 N. Lorraine St.
Hutchinson, KS 67501
(620) 669-9311

$79/night including indoor water park
(deadline for this rate is 2/6/09)

alternate hotels:
Holiday Inn
Comfort Inn
(short walk)

Best Value Inn
(two blocks)

Hampton Inn
(near by)

No membership fee (donations welcome)

Questions? Call Charley McCue at 620 
663-3799 or email him at csmccue@cox.net

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Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. I wish to extend a special invitation to those kindred souls who could do with a break in the tedium or an escape from the drumbeat of the incessant responsibilities of the daily grind.

I invite you to a small gathering of fen and friends - old and soon-to-be-acquainted - the weekend of February 20th through 22nd, in Hutchinson, Kansas.      WMS

Why in February for Ghu's sake?

My Cage-Match-to-the-Death with Mortality has gone 55 rounds so far and I'm still standing. On February 20th I'll celebrate Round 56.

I didn't specifically plan this as a Birthday event. My original idea was something away from the December holiday block but avoiding the spring thaw/Tax Meltdown/Kickoff the early Convention cycle time issues. I don't want this to compete with any of the Midwest Cons. And springs, summers, and fall are filled with all sorts of activities.

Winter can be pretty fallow after the holidays: a good time to pull up a chair with a cuppa and have warm times with good company while the wind howls outside. No date is going to be optimum for everyone but I kicked this around with Charlie McCue and we found our best scheduling window to be the weekend of February 20th, 21st, 22nd. Synchronicity.

And gas is much more reasonable right now than it was when we first started discussing the idea.

Is it a convention?

It's a gathering of people with roots in fandom. That sounds like a convention. Activities and such are an open process at this time so I'm inclined to label it as "BYOCon" (Bring Your Own CON) not to be confused with the old BYOB-Con that launched ConQuest. Some people suggested it be called "Mark I" but my ego isn't nearly as big as the rest of me. If we're going to bring names into it, I prefer Chilly-Con-Charlie.

Is there programming?

Again, that's up to the people who participate, hence the BYO suggestion.

Charlie and I are happy to host the weekend. If five people show up we'll have a nice time, and expect things to be much more laid back. If 25 people show up, well, the more the merrier and the options for more variety abound. 

We've arranged for a room block of 10 rooms but can probably expand that if more people sign up early.

What might we do?

I'll have my guitar and if people want to filk, we can do that. (And we won't wait until 11 p.m. to start - I promise you that.)

If people have manuscripts that want to share or discuss with other like-minded writers or readers, I'm for that - I'll toss a couple of my own on the pile.

Is there a dealers room? 

No, but I have no objection to anyone offering anything (legal) for sale.


That's up to you. I still have my many sided die and a stack of D&D books. You want variety; you'll have to step up.

Formalized discussions?

If you're coming and we can find like-minded participants, why not. Give me suggestions.

Movies? Media programs?

Bring your VHS or DVD player and solicit some interest or choices ahead of time.

Outside activities?

You mean besides the potential for snowball fights and ice sculpture?

First of all, there is the famous Cosmosphere & Space Museum just a few blocks away. With an IMAX dome theater, planetarium, and vast museum containing the 2nd largest collection of US space artifacts in the world and the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Russia, you can spend the day and not see everything. I highly recommend Dr. Goddard's Lab! And ask Charlie about the Space Camps and the Future Astronaut Training Programs! Among the exhibits of this Smithsonian affiliate are the recovered Mercury capsule "Liberty Bell 7" from the ocean floor and the actual Apollo 13 Command Module, "Odyssey." With 15 or more we can get a group discount.

The Kansas Underground Salt Museum is just a couple of miles away and 650 feet underground.

Food ranges from home cooked Mennonite fare at the "Carriage Crossing" to Mongolian Bar-B-Q and Chinese to Mexican, with standard chains like Applebe's and Chili's, as well as the offbeat like "Burgers 'N' Bait" and "Sacks 5th Avenue."

The "Con Suite" is the "Celebration Suite" at the Grand Prairie Hotel. This will serve as a social nexus, main programming, and kickback room. Since we're not charging admission or membership fees, we're not budgeted for "Con Suite Food & Drinks." I'm open to suggestions from those who want to come, otherwise, BYO.

Aside from the Suite, my house is just a few blocks away and we can go there for some things if necessary. You want to plan something for your room? Great!

Why should you come?

That's up to you. We're not looking to create a major event, here. We're aiming for an intimate, low key, laid back weekend for a few old friends and like-minded folk who need to get away for a day or two. Can we talk business? Absolutely. Do Con-like things? If you like. But that's up to you. It's "BYOCon" and I invite you to throw your ideas out here and see if anybody else wants to join in.

But what if I don't know anybody? 

The whole point to this is to get to know people better. Old and new.

But it's winter, you say.

Yes. It is winter! It's cold and dark and it's been too long since I basked in the warmth of good friends, good conversation, and slipped the bonds of the mundane. How about you? April seems a long way away. I need something in the meantime. How about you?

You say: But I've already budgeted for my maximum number of Cons this year!

Believe me; I wouldn't want this to take the place of any other convention out there. That's why we picked February and consider it a non-con AND have done everything to keep costs down short of suggesting arctic camping gear in our back yards.

It's up to you how much you want to invest over the baseline.

The rooms at the Prairie Hotel are $79 (plus tax) and come with pool privileges and breakfast. Use "Dawn Patrol Group" when making a reservation and make sure they give you the rate. Tell them how many in your room so everyone will get a pool pass.

If you can find a better deals elsewhere (Holiday Inn Express, Microtel, and Comfort Inn are within short walking distance) feel free. Best Value motel is down the street about two blocks and the Hampton Inn is across the highway. The room block doesn't help toward the suite so nobody should feel obligated to use the room block.

The Basic Rules and Boilerplate Disclaimer: people are responsible for themselves. There is no Con Comm, no official contract with the hotel, no attendance fee (aside from any love offering you might want to make toward peripheral expenses, if any). We're just some friends getting together for the weekend and expect that you won't engage in anything illegal, dangerous, or overly obnoxious.

Any questions? Suggestions? Pass the word. Let us know. The clock is ticking.

Keep in touch, even if you can't come. As I've said: we're approaching this as a small, semi-intimate gathering but we won't be upset if more people want to come.

But we'd love to have you.

And, hey, it's gonna be my birthday. Wish me a Happy.

In person if you can.


Copyright 2004-2009 by Keith Stokes.