For those who don’t know OCALICon is an Autism and Disabilities conference, held at the Columbus Convention Center, in Ohio. I first found out about it in 2015, as one of the Autistic bloggers I follow was a panelist. I had wanted to attend in 2016, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to due to lack of funds. I finally got to attend this year as a vendor.
Signing up to be a vendor was relatively easy. The event coordinator was very easy to work with and answered any questions I had relatively quickly. He was also very accommodating when I mentioned I cannot do phone calls, so we stuck to email communication. I very much prefer written communication most of the time.
The event was a Wednesday through Friday thing. They had setup for vendors on Tuesday, but I wasn’t able to make it down for that. We set up very early Wednesday morning, as in a little after 6am early. My friend Brick came as my table helper.
On day 1, we got there sometime around 6:30 or so, I think. We got in and parked relatively easily. Though I parked in a garage I had never been in, in my 12-13 years of attending events at the same venue. The entrance to the convention center from the garage was in the newly renovated added on area, so that was a little disorienting for me. Once we figured out where the elevators were we found our way to the vendor hall easily. OCALI did have lots of signs pointing the way which was great. Once outside the vendor hall, one of the volunteers helped us find the event coordinator I mentioned before.Once inside and with the event coordinator, he took us over to get our badges. Then let us borrow a cart to get our heavier items over to our booth more easily.
When we got to our booth we discussed how we wanted to set it up. We decided to make 2 tall towers out of cubes. The one on the left had our #REDInstead sign facing the A$ booth (they somehow ended up diagonal from us, but luckily they just set out leaflets and didn’t actually have anyone manning the booth). It also had a shelf where we put my Autism Pocket Guides for people to take. On the shelf below that was various weighted plushies. The cube tower on the right we hung chewable jewelry and various other fidgets. And on the table we had another smaller cube with my pins and Brick’s chainmail items on it. On the table itself we had various bins filled with stim/fidget stuff. We ended up finishing set up a tiny bit after the room opened for attendees at 9am.
I will continue with how the day 1 went and the other two days in another post.