I spent a chunk of Saturday at "SLC Nerd," a local (for "within 50 miles" values of "local") event that purported to offer some of what big conventions offer without the price tag or pretentiousness.
I think that in a couple of years they might get it right.
There was a lot of enthusiasm for the event, and the M:TG players (especially Brandon Sanderson) appeared to be having a great time. The converted warehouse venue was really boomy, though, and the all-too-regular announcements over the PA really got on my nerves. Pro tip: if you have to ask a bunch of nerds to scream at the top of their lungs to prove that they're having fun, you probably do not understand them.
Still, I had a good time. Mostly that's because I circled the wagons with the celebrity RPG group and drew caricatures of them as their L5R characters. This one's Larry Correia. I tried to capture the raw intimidation he exudes, and had to resort to blood-spatter and a tetsubo to accomplish what Larry pulls off just by smiling at you.