There’s only one more sleep until CookieCon tickets go on sale! It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Have you set an alarm on your phone? Have you informed your friends and family that you need complete silence for an hour tomorrow night?
Yesterday’s post was from Kelly, an experienced attendee who’s been to every CookieCon ever held. Today’s post is from my friend Shannon…a cookie rookie who attended her first CookieCon earlier this year. So if you’ve never been, have no fear! Shannon is here to tell you all about how to lose your “CookieCon virginity”.
How I Lost My Virginity in Reno: A Newbie’s Guide to CookieCon
“Go to CookieCon”, they said. “It will be fun”, they said… and boy, were they right! Hello everyone! My name is Shannon Holloway (AKA CookieConVirgin2019) and most of you have no idea who I am, nor should you. I am completely new to the cookie world and prior to February of this year, I had no clue whatsoever that there was a whole cookie universe out there filled with amazing and talented (and a little of the best kind of crazy) people that I have ever met.
Now, it is only fair that I admit upfront that I have known Arty McGoo and her crazy sidekick, Kim Holmes for many years. I had even taken a couple of her classes at the local art studio. I live in the same town with both of them. However, I know Arty as Liz and Mr. John as just plain old John, no Mr. required. I will also admit that I had heard through the grapevine that Liz was “cookie famous”. I am here to confess that I had zero idea of what that meant until that fateful day in March 2019 in Reno, NV.
Admittedly, my arrival may have been different from other newbies at the event. My roomie, the incredible Mrs. Holmes, knew everyone and everyone knew her. I never had to worry about being lonely or not meeting people. What I quickly learned, however, was that I did not have to worry about that anyway. Of all the wonderful craziness that was CookieCon, the one thing that stood out to me over all of the talent, creativity, and event-savviness that I saw in every direction, was the genuine care for one another that they possessed. The welcome I felt from these complete strangers was refreshing.
This might be a good time to point out that I am a hobby cookier. For my day job, I am an executive for a software company where I have worked for 25 years. I started there when I was 10. I have attended many conferences, and in comparison, CookieCon was top-notch. It was well organized, the pre-classes were highly educational, the venue was nice, the food was great, and the vendor hall was well attended and had a nice layout. I could go on and on with this list, but I will summarize by saying that the people running this event are genuinely passionate about making it something that cookiers will love…and it shows in every detail of the event and in the their magnificent staff. I did not get the opportunity to meet Karen and Mike Summers, but I wish I had. Their love for what they have created is contagious.
Allow me, now, to answer some questions for those who have never been to CookieCon or share my opinions with those who have.
What was my favorite part of CookieCon?
You already know I loved the people, but if I focus on the event itself, I could narrow down my favorite things to the top five, in no specific order.
- The Sugar Show – Even if I had not created my own pieces for the Sugar Show, I would have still loved this part of the event. If you do not know, the Sugar Show is a multi-category exhibit where cookiers bring their projects and put them on display for others to enjoy and judge. Some categories are labeled as “collaborative” and some “competition”. There is something for everyone and, thankfully for me, various levels of experience are welcome. In the competitive categories, winners are recognized for their achievements at the awards banquet on Saturday night.
- The Add-On Classes – Although not technically part of CookieCon because of their separate price tag, the add-on classes were still very well done and definitely worth it. The classes are hands-on, have a small class-size, and include all the necessary supplies, which is great for travel purposes alone. Plus, you get to take home your set of cookies! I cannot imagine doing CookieCon without participating in the Add-ons.
- The Vendor Hall – The only bad thing I can say about the vendor hall is that it took more money from me that the roulette table and the slot machines combined. I bought so much stuff! Being new, I did not have many “cookie things” and, suffice it to say; now I do. I also learned something about myself in the vendor hall. Hello, my name is Shannon and I am addicted to “sets”. “Oh, that comes in a set? Yes, please”. The famous line from Harry Potter, “We’ll take the lot!” kept running through my head while I was in the vendor hall. If there is a Support Group for people like me, please let me know.
- The Tasting Event – I will sum this one up in one word, YUM! If you were there and you heard someone yell, “You mean I get to taste ALL of these?” that may have been me.
- The Keynote – Holy cow! Are they always like this or did Arty just hit it out of the park? It simply cannot be described in words. If you have not seen it, put down your piping bag and go check it out. It was perfect parts humble beginnings, look at me know, and follow your heart. It was over the top marvelous. Why are you still reading this? Go watch it! This post will still be here when you get back.
What the heck are buttons and why do I need to bring them to CookieCon?
Let me start by saying that I jumped into CookieCon with both feet… in the deep end… headfirst. I chose to participate in “all the things”. Buttons are totally NOT required, but they are fun and I would recommend them to all first-timers and I will tell you why down below. First, let me tell you what they are.
Many people make custom buttons. By “make”, I mean go online, use a site to customize a design, and have a company make and ship them to you. It is easier than it sounds. Some of the professional cookiers use these buttons for their logos as advertisement, but the rest of us just do something we like and many of the designs are hilarious.
Next step, take them to CookieCon and exchange them with others who have them or give them away to those that do not. This is an excellent tool to help you walk up and talk to strangers and this is why I recommend them for the virgins. When you want to meet people and are not sure what to say, “Would you like a button?” is super easy.
As a side note, some people also take cookies to exchange. I did this and it makes you even more popular with the strangers! CookieCon: the only place moms accept cookies from strangers and actually eat them. Shhh… don’t tell the kids or there will be a mutiny on Halloween.
Will I go back next year?
That is such a difficult question. I live in California. The event is in Kentucky. I will have to take time off work and pay for the flight. Who am I kidding??? My hotel room has been booked for months and I cannot wait to see you all there. Oh, and I could use your help with a new name. Unfortunately, CookieConVirgin2019 has a shelf life.
The time has come to wrap this up. They asked me for a “short blog post” and I fear that ship sailed a few paragraphs ago. Really, though, what did they expect? How do you summarize all the greatness that is CookieCon in anything short? As it is, I feel like I left many good things out. The shirts, for example. I love my shirt, but there is no time (or is it space in the blog world?) for that. I will just leave you with this one last thought. CookieCon is awesome and you should go, but please do not take the last ticket or the last seat in the classes I want to attend. I hope to meet you all in Kentucky. Until then, cookie on, my friends, cookie on.