Having registered as soon as possible, I paid the lowest registration price possible and encouraged others to register early. For my $300, I felt like I got a little ripped off on what was hyped as the "convention of the century."
Were there some wonderful moments? Absolutely. I enjoyed the competition finals and the Riese lecture. I saw some good close-up magic in the bar over the course of the week, reconnected with many friends, and so forth. The Tuesday and Friday shows, while containing some bright spots (Danny Cole, for example), were generally weak, dated, repetitive, or a combination of the three.
Whoever booked four card manips for the Friday show ought to be flogged. Topas, as the MC, was the 4th and even though his take on the idea was unique and I love him as a performer, he should have known enough to cut his bit and done something else from his repertoire. That seems like a basic thing for an MC to be ready to do. (Likewise, I was surprised when Duane Laflin, as MC of the Saturday night stage contest finals, performed the rope with four ends immediately prior to one of the acts which included a very similar rope trick.)
The kids who opened the Friday show were amazingly good for their ages, but they did not captivate the house and they went too long. I don't know why they were chosen to open a show, especially one for the general public at a convention billed to the Louisville theatre-going public as a major magic talent event.
I admire and respect Wayne Dobson, but he did not connect with the laypeople in the audience at all and came across as a pity act, which is precisely what he did NOT want. It was challenging to understand what he was saying and I spent the rest of the evening explaining to my Louisville layperson friend who he was and describing his wonderful television performances in the UK.
I skipped part of the Tuesday show -- got up and left before the show was over. I thought Finney was great but ran long. I agree with several of the previous assessments of the evening and will leave it at that.
I enjoyed the comedy panel discussion just because I find it entertaining to watch those guys, but I didn't think it really achieved the goal of explaining anything practical about the business of being funny. It was mainly a vehicle to allow the guys to crack jokes. Williamson was great, of course.
Williamson's own lecture was more of the same... hilarious... and this one had some good content and he even described a couple of tricks... a novel concept for lectures at this convention.
I skipped the banquet cabaret show.
The close-up show -- Williamson MC'd and was great. I loved seeing Dr. Sawa. One act that I really wanted to like came out and immediately began building a psychological wall between himself and every person there. His apparent joke line, "I don't make mistakes," came across as pure arrogance to a lot of people in the audience. He did familiar close-up magic quite competently, closing with a fooler, but I couldn't believe it when he literally pitched himself for work ("if you know anyone planning to spend a lot of money"... as if he were performing tableside at a restaurant and trying to sell a gig? An audience of magicians? He never once said please or thank you to a single one of his audience assistants.
Anyway, I thought it was a moderately good convention in most other respects, albeit stretched for some reason to fill two more days than necessary. (Maybe a hotel thing to get the room rate?) The location and the city of Louisville are perfect for magic conventions, with plenty of great restaurants and entertainment and a clean, safe downtown area... and a great theatre... and a nice hotel with lots of space for casual magic. But was this the convention of the century? Not even close. I thought the IBM convention in Orlando in 2001 surpassed this, especially in the quality of the stage shows.