As a new decade dawns upon us, Ohayocon is ready to celebrate in style! This anime convention draws over 20,000 people to Columbus, Ohio to revel in all things nerdy for one fun-filled weekend in the doldrums of winter. We were on the scene for all three days of the con, so let’s see what Ohayocon had to offer this year!
|When it was Established||January 2001|
|Length of Event||3 days, January 10 – 12, 2020|
|Location||Greater Columbus Convention Center in Columbus, OH|
|COST||If you pre-register early enough, you can get a weekend pass for as little as $45. At the door, it’s $70 and cash only. Single-day passes are in the range of $20-40.|
|Hotels||The convention center is physically connected to three hotels—the Hyatt Regency (where Ohayocon has a block of rooms), the Drury Inn & Suites, and the Hilton. But since it’s located downtown, there are other options nearby such as the Red Roof Inn Plus.|
|Event Message for Attendees||Explore the natural beauty of anime with your cure for the wintertime blues!|
What to Expect
Ohayocon has taken place annually for almost 20 years now so it’s a well-oiled machine at this point. Panel rooms are clearly marked, the scheduling app works well, and Accessibility Services makes sure that those with disabilities can easily navigate the spacious convention center. The venue itself has a food court with a variety of options, a convenience store stocked with any items you may have left behind (such as scissors for opening figure boxes or earplugs for that roommate who snores), and on-site police officers to make sure everything goes smoothly.
If you have the energy to venture outside the convention center, Ohio’s capital city of Columbus is well worth exploring. Just across the street from the Hilton is North Market, an indoor food hall with warm bowls of ramen that can bring you back to life after a crazy weekend. And if you’re a crafter, the Joann Fabrics at Polaris Towne Center is one of the largest in the country and features an area to test drive sewing and embroidery machines!
What to Bring
Donations for the Manga Library – Ohayocon’s Manga Library and Maker Lab is only in its second year of operation, so its collection is pretty tiny. But if you have manga volumes, light novels, DVDs, or other nerdy literature lying around, you can donate it to the library in exchange for discounts on your next badge. With enough donations, you might even be able to get a free badge for next year!
Ribbons to Trade – The ribbon game is a fun little “sidequest” that’s been popping up at conventions in recent years, and this is the first time it’s been listed as an official event at Ohayocon. You can design and order small badge ribbons to trade with other attendees, competing to get the most ribbons possible. And even if you don’t have the time or money to order ribbons, passing out small trinkets with your Instagram handle on them is a great way to participate in the game and spread your brand at the same time!
Emergency Rations – Cons tend to be frenetic affairs, so normal routines for eating and sleeping get tossed out the window in favor of going hard all weekend long so you don’t miss any of the fun. However, you still need to eat, and the food court is often crowded, so it’s a smart idea to bring along “emergency rations” like protein bars and fruit for those times when you can’t spare a minute to sit down. Make sure these snacks are healthy, or else you’ll suffer from a sugar crash later on.
What to Do While There/What is Available
Dealer’s Room/Artist’s Alley – Our favorite part of any anime convention is the dealer’s room, where you can purchase all manner of nerdy figures, art, clothing, and assorted trinkets from your favorite series. One of the standouts this year was Ohio Kimono, which partnered with The Kawaii-est Little Stationery Store to bring a smorgasbord of imported Japanese and Korean paper products—the art nouveau-style stickers, in particular, are so gorgeous that it’s a wonder how affordable they are. Sorbet Jungle also made an adorable impression with its food/animal-themed products, our favorite being a set of “Crononana” plushies dangling from a banana hook that each come with their own adoption ceremony and certificate.
Oriana Péron’s Drag Race and Show – Oriana Péron is an Indiana-based drag queen who hosts LGBT-themed panels and events at conventions throughout the Midwest. One of her more low-key affairs is a queer roundtable where anyone in the room can share their coming out stories or ask questions in a safe space. But if you want the full-on sequin-y experience, make sure you attend her drag race (a game show modeled after Ru Paul’s Drag Race) and the drag show (where local entertainers perform in cosplay). Blue Eclipse, the winner of the drag race, brought the house down with a strong performance as Lio Fotia from Promare!
Caleb Hyles Sing-Along – YouTube singer Caleb Hyles is known for his Disney and anime covers, as well as his infectiously positive personality. His Saturday concert was a hit, but his Sunday sing-along warmed our hearts to the core. Karaoke can be stressful for introverts, so Caleb picked two fans from the audience to sing with him for each song and displayed the lyrics for everyone else. Even though the whole crowd was tired, we all joined in for a rousing rendition of “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” to close out the panel.
Since the new 20s began this year, Ohayocon got everyone in the spirit by theming itself as a celebration of the 1920s. We saw flappers, bootleggers, and other 20s-inspired versions of popular characters throughout the convention, some presented with a surprising amount of historical accuracy. Standbys like Boku no Hero Academia and Steven Universe ruled the halls and photoshoot areas, while a few retro shows like Fruits Basket finally saw some representation again due to their recent reboots. For pure craftsmanship and creativity, we have to single out Flint_locke for their stunning Lilith from Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s a wonder how they managed to move at all in that get-up, but it was definitely worth it!
This mid-sized anime convention is the perfect escape from the post-holiday wintertime blues. Whether you’re here to cosplay, meet voice actors, play arcade games, or just people watch, Ohayocon is the nerdy getaway you can’t afford to miss!
What did you think of our overview? Have you ever attended Ohayocon? What were your favorite events and cosplays this year? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!