Two weeks have passed since the Summer Edition of Steel City Con. During Steel City Con Summer 2023, the atmosphere seemed a bit different than usual, not in a negative manner, but in a way we can’t fully describe; this time, the convention didn’t really feel like it had a theme. After being unable to attend the Spring 2023 event, we noticed some major changes that made the convention feel a lot more consumer-friendly, however, there were still some things that could have been improved. Steel City Con Summer 2023 welcomed Katey Sagal, William Shatner, John DiMaggio, Mike Tyson, Billy Dee Williams, Tom Elis, Marisa Tomei, and many other celebrities.
A Different Feeling
When attending Steel City Con, this iteration felt a bit off; this was most likely due to celebrity guests being split between the convention center and the Double Tree Hotel right behind it. However, walking through the convention center almost felt empty at times. In a way, it was a bit refreshing not to feel packed in an overly crowded mob, but it made it difficult to truly gauge how many people came to the convention.
The convention center itself switched between hot and cold. Areas close to the doors were a bit colder but as you got to the center of the building and the panel room, it became rather muggy and humid. While waiting in lines, we heard people complaining about the humidity; many were not sure if the air conditioner was on but it could have easily been turned off because it had been raining. This isn’t really SCC’s fault but did make it a bit uncomfortable for some guests. Some who were too warm could easily grab a refreshing Monster for free or buy water/beer at the convenience stand.
We did have one issue where a guest walked into us while carrying beer and spilled it all over us. Rather than apologizing, he just looked at us angrily and aggressively until Steel City Con staff came over. The staff was able to quickly address the liquid on the floor, offered to get us something from the convenience stand, and apologized for the other guest. Not all staff were equally helpful. Despite us being there as press, we were limited on what we could take photos of outside of the merchant’s hall.
Outside of gathering a wide variety of pop culture merchandise from the Merchant’s Hall, guests could attend panels and ask some of the celebrity guests questions based on their roles; however, due to the labor strike in Hollywood, questions had to be worded in different ways to avoid naming certain movies or studios. Despite being a bit of a challenge, guests came up with interesting ways to ask their questions. After waiting for a few years, I finally had the opportunity to ask Marisa Tomei why her role in Sweet Girl was cut (Starring Jason Momoa). Throughout the convention weekend, there was a different panel every hour that guests could enjoy.
When not attending a panel, guests could go up to their favorite star’s booth and pay for an autograph or signature. Most of these transactional meet and greets are fairly priced and depending on the way you compose yourself, some of the celebrities will go the extra mile. Despite being famous, some will talk to you for however long you want as long as there is no one else waiting in line. Some of these conversations can be comedic, heartfelt, and even refreshing; refreshing as in you learn something new about the celebrity that you never knew before. At times, you can even talk to some of them while they are walking around, just make sure not to be a creep.
Despite having some issues with taking photos at Steel City Con Summer 2023, the event as a whole was rather refreshing. Guests and celebrities seemed to be in a much happier mood than last time. The staff was helpful for the most part throughout the convention center. The convention center itself wasn’t as crowded thanks to some of the bigger profile guests being in the hotel next door. The price point for photos and autographs can be daunting at first glance, however, most of the celebrities are glad to see guests and are willing to take time out of their day to make guests feel noticed. If you find one who isn’t that busy, you can easily have a nice 30-minute or longer conversation with them.
Compared to prior Steel City Cons, we had a lot more fun with this adaptation of the convention. The atmosphere felt more upbeat; there wasn’t overcrowding and you could very easily walk around to see what you wanted to see. Our only complaint from our time with the convention is that the one stand that was selling stolen artwork merchandise was still there despite telling workers last time about the theft. This could be the stand claiming that they have ownership of the said product and in no way is it the convention’s fault for it. It is next to impossible for any convention to be able to check that all products within the convention are legitimate or allowed to be sold.
Overall, we definitely feel that Steel City Con has stepped up and corrected most of the problems that we experienced last time we were there. There was no long wait to get it. We could easily walk around the convention center without having to rub shoulders with anyone else, and meeting times with celebrities were adhered to. At the end of the day, if you have the money to go to Steel City Con and buy merchandise, photos, or autographs then it is definitely worth it. The price point is a bit difficult for some to tackle so make sure to only spend what you can afford.
Definitely make sure to follow Steel City Con on Facebook for updates about guests attending the next convention. You can also look at their official website for announcements, panels, and upcoming guests. At the moment, the December version (Dec 8th to 10th) looks to be having a Scream reunion; so far Matthew Lillard, Kiefer Sutherland, David Arquette, and Patrick Fabian have been announced. If you are in Western PA or nearby, it is worth checking out.
A special thanks to Steel City Con for having us. We look forward to the next one.