Steve and Sue Francis' NorthAmericon '79 Reminiscence
NorthAmericon '79 was the second NASFiC to be held when the Worldcon was held out of North America. The convention was held over the Labor Day weekend in 1979 in Louisville, KY. It started as a "Nashville is Neat in 100 Degree Heat" ad in a 1975 MidAmeriCon progress report. This ad was a big joke pulled on Khen Moore by Ken Keller, who was MidAmeriCon's chairman. It started to take off as a Worldcon bid for Nashville when Khen got a bad case of Worldcon fever. As it became more and more obvious that Nashville did not have the needed hotel space (this was before the Opryland Hotel was a factor) the bid somehow migrated north to Louisville as a NASFiC bid. The hotel selected was the 714-room Galt House (still known to be decorated in Early American Bordello).
The bid culminated at SunCon, the 1977 Worldcon held in Miami Beach, FL. There was a tremendous mint julep bid party thrown by John Shake of the Galt House sales staff in a beautiful, huge suite in the old Fountainebleau Hotel. This party was talked about for years afterward. When all of the dust settled, Louisville had won the site selection with almost no opposition from the folks in New Orleans who had just lost the Worldcon bid for 1979 to Brighton, England. This is another story.
The committee worked for the next two years putting the convention together, lining up guests and setting a contract with the hotel. The concom consisted of Cliff Amos, Chairman; Bob Roehm, Vice-chairman, publications; Steve Francis, Registrar; Ken Amos, Operations; Shelby Bush and Irvin Koch, Special Events; Ken & Lou Moore, Art Show; and Mike Hutto and Mike Jencevice, Film Program.
The convention was held in lieu of the 1979 Rivercon which resumed in 1980 with Rivercon V. The convention went very well with the exception of a few things which caused some hassles for the committee. Some of these problems were the somewhat overcrowded Hucksters Room, poor lighting in the Art Show, and those infamous cantankerous 35mm movie projectors. One other problem that arose was overselling tickets for the Belle of Louisville steamboat Cruise and Filksing. By means of much scrambling around we managed to buy back enough tickets from gracious fans who were willing to forgo the Belle cruise.
Two of the most noted highlights of NorthAmeriCon were the Ethnic Food Fair held on the Belvedere Plaza, adjacent to the Galt House, and the spectacular fireworks display on the last day of the convention. Many people asked us how we managed to arrange the fireworks. For a while, we took credit for them but finally 'fessed up that it was done by the city for the Ethnic Food Fair as part of the Labor Day celebration. All in all, the convention was a huge success and is well remembered by most of the 2000 people who attended. [And probably some mundanes. Per Janice Gelb: Remember "the skinny-dip pool party inadvertently witnessed by hotel bar patrons due to portholes in the pool....?"]
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