How to Bid for a Costume-Con Conference

So, you want to bid to host your own Costume-Con Conference? This is what you need to know (and do) in order to submit the bid, and what you’ll need to do if you win!

What You Should Know:

“Costume-Con®” is a registered service mark of Karen Schnaubelt (Dick), the conference’s surviving founder, hereinafter referred to as the Service Mark Holder.

Costume-Con is an annual conference for science-fiction, fantasy, and historical costumers or anyone else with an interest in costuming, either amateur or professional. Traditionally, Costume-Con conferences generally take place between Martin Luther King Day Weekend (third weekend in January) and Memorial Day weekend (last full weekend in May), inclusive, and run from Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon.

Costume-Con conferences are now governed by the Costume-Con ConStitution. All Costume-Con committees agree to abide by and uphold the ConStitution as part of their agreement for using the name Costume-Con and are also responsible for enforcing the provisions of the ConStitution.

The site of a Costume-Con conference is selected three years in advance (e.g., the location of Costume-Con X+3 conference is decided at Costume-Con X conference). Site Selection is administered by the Site Selection Commissioner.

Any site in any geographic location is eligible to be the site of a Costume-Con conference, except as restricted by the provisions of the ConStitution.

Each Costume-Con conference committee is responsible for its own bookkeeping, finances, and taxes.

Each Costume-Con conference must distribute a copy of the ConStitution to all of its members, typically by publishing it in the Program Book.

Each Costume-Con conference is required to have the following program items: (a) at least one (1) staged costume competition of some sort; (b) at least ten (10) instructional/educational presentations of some sort (which can take the form of lectures, panel discussions, seminars, hands-on workshops, etc.); (c) Site Selection voting for a future Costume-Con conference (see Article 2 of the ConStitution); and (d) at least two hours and a meeting area for 100 attendees provided for the Annual Meeting of the International Costumers’ Guild (as dictated by their By-laws).

Traditional conference activities include: (a) a Social (party) on the first night of the conference; (b) a Science-Fiction/Fantasy costume competition; (c) a Historical costume competition; (d) a Fashion Design contest (held before the conference); and (e) a Fashion Show featuring some of the winning designs from the Fashion Design contest.

There are least two classes of membership in Costume-Con conferences: Supporting and Attending. Supporting members receive all publications published or distributed by the Costume-Con conference committee. Typical Costume-Con conference publications include: Progress Reports, Site Selection Ballot, Fashion Folio, Program Book.

Optionally, some Costume-Con conferences distribute the Whole Costumer’s Catalogue. Supporting members may exercise Site Selection voting rights. All Costume-Con conferences are required to offer Supporting memberships until at least fifteen (15) days prior to the opening of the Costume-Con conference. Any class of membership offered by a Costume-Con conference costing at least as much as a Supporting membership includes a Supporting membership. Attending members have all of the rights of Supporting members, plus the right to attend the Costume-Con conference.

How to Bid:

To submit a bid for consideration by a Costume-Con conference’s membership, you’ll need to submit a letter of intent to the Service Mark Holder first. This letter should include the following information (or copies of the information):

  • Your Conference Chair and Treasurer (these two offices can never be held by the same person);
  • An organizing instrument (such as By-Laws, articles of incorporation or association, or a partnership agreement) which specifies how the committee is organized and the method of selection and removal of committee members; and,
  • A letter of intent or option from a hotel or other facility declaring specific dates on which your Costume-Con conference shall be held. If proposed dates are outside of the “traditional” range specified in Section 1.3 of the ConStitution, the dates must be approved by the Service Mark Holder. (See Section 1.1 of the ConStitution for details.)

The following two items are helpful, but not obligatory:

  • A sponsoring organization (such as one of the International Costumers’ Guild chapters); and/or,
  • Tax-exempt status (such as 501(c)(3)).

Your bid paperwork must be in the possession of the Service Mark Holder by one-hundred and eighty days (180) days preceding the administering conference (ninety (90) days preceding the balloting). Filing paperwork should be delivered to the Service Mark Holder at the address in the Contact Information section of this document. If your filing paperwork can be verified to be at the address of the Service Mark Holder, it is considered to be in Service Mark Holder’s possession. A copy of the filing paperwork should be delivered to the Costume-Con Archivist at the address in the Contact Information section of this document.

If no valid bids are received by the deadline, then the Site Selection process falls to the discretion of the Service Mark Holder.

When Your Bid is Accepted:

You’ll receive your own copy of the ConStitution. Read it! It has quite a lot of information concerning how your business should be conducted, who to contact, and when.

You must display your prospective dates and facility information on all flyers and other advertising media you use to promote your bid.

Your bid committee will be given at least fifteen (15) minutes of scheduled program time on the first full day of the administering Costume-Con conference to use for making a bidding presentation.

When the Vote Takes Place:

Site Selection voting is limited to those persons who are Attending or Supporting members of the administering Costume-Con conference. Other classes of membership may vote only upon the unanimous agreement of all qualified bidding committees. One person equals one membership equals one vote. Corporations, Associations, and other non-human entities may vote only for “No Preference.” “Guest of” memberships must be transferred to an individual before voting for anything other than “No Preference.”

The counting of ballots will be arranged by the Site Selection Commissioner, and each eligible bid committee will be allowed to send at least two (2) observers to the ballot-counting. The count will be by preferential ballot, otherwise known as the Australian counting method. The winning bid is the one that gains a majority of those votes expressing preference for a bid. (For more details on the voting procedure, see the ConStitution.)

If there is no qualified bidding committee, if no eligible bid wins the needed majority, or if “None of the Above” wins, the Service Mark Holder may choose a site within six (6) weeks of the close of the administering Costume-Con conference. In the case of no eligible bid winning a majority, the Service Mark Holder may choose between/among the current eligible bids. The Service Mark Holder has the option to decline making a site choice, meaning there will be no Costume-Con conference that year.

The results of the balloting will be reported to the membership of the current Costume-Con conference at the evening event (traditionally the Historic Masquerade), on the third day of the administering conference.

When Your Bid Wins:

You’ll need to pay a $1.00 fee to the Service Mark Holder, to use the Costume-Con name (and the goodwill it carries with it).

Your conference committee will need to publish a record of the results of the balloting, including all intermediate counts, in your first or second Progress Report.

You’ll need to set up a bank account (if you haven’t already done so), to accept the voting fee checks which become yours when you win the bid. You’ll need to keep records of all registered and paid Site Selection voters, to track their voting fees, which must be credited towards either a Supporting or an Attending membership in your Costume-Con conference. Accounts should include the Costume-Con X+3 name, even if you are not incorporating as Costume-Con X+3. You can do this by naming the account as follows: Your Organization d.b.a. Costume-Con X+3. The d.b.a stands for “doing business as.”

You should follow-up with these voters, to let them know the upgrade difference between their voting fee and a full Supporting or Attending membership. We suggest that if they choose not to upgrade, you should consider the payment to be a donation, to simplify your record-keeping.

Suggestions for a Running a Successful Costume Con Conference

  • Be flexible! Set up a budget, choose committee members, and establish the structure by which your Costume-Con conference committee will by run over the next four years. Then be prepared to change any of these items at any time. Costume-Cons, by nature, are flexible creations. No two are alike, even when run by many of the same individuals. That uniqueness is one of the attractions to the conference.
  • Remember that this is a business! Costume-Con conferences are run by volunteers. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be responsible for keeping accurate records, meeting deadlines, or answering inquiries in a timely manner. There are lots of resources out there (and lots of experienced people) to help you run your business. Use them wisely and you won’t regret it.
  • Remember that this is FUN! Costume-Con conferences are sharing events. They are intended to provide costumers with an educational, professional, and social outlet not available in any other venue. Your committee should ideally be at least interested in costuming, and should remember that when people come to your conference, they may have been to lots of previous events, and will pay attention to what happens at yours. Try not to get wrapped up in procedure at the cost of enjoyment. Keep this in mind when you plan the events and program items for the conference.

If you keep these things in mind throughout the course of your planning, you’ll find that the hard work and effort has paid off in big ways!

Good Luck!

The information above is gathered from the Costume-Con ConStitution, and may change at any time. In any case, the ConStitution is the definitive document by which all Costume-Con-related business is conducted. This document merely summarized the rules and regulations specified by the ConStitution, and is in no way meant to replace it.

Contact Information

Contact information for the Service Mark Holder: Karen Schnaubelt (Dick), P.O. Box 1, Beallsville, PA 15313; Phone: (724) 886-4459; Email:

Contact information for Costume-Con Archivist: Betsy R. Marks Delaney, Costume-Con Archivist, Costume-Connections, P.O. Box 1393, Greenbelt, MD 20768; Phone: (301) 922-1865; Email:; Web Site:

Contact information for the International Costumers’ Guild: c/o The Corresponding Secretary, E-mail:; Web Site:

Contact information for the Whole Costumer’s Catalogue: c/o Karen L. Schnaubelt, Editor / P.O. Box 1, Beallsville, PA 15313; Phone: (724) 886-4459; Email: