Yes and no. Sorta. It's complicated.
The big 1000-attendee Tiki Kon weekend conference you've come to know is concluding its run after this year's 20th anniversary celebration. When the Tiki torch was passed to us in 2013, we only intended our journey to be a 5-year tour. But before we knew it, a decade had passed, and we started getting restless.
Our mission from the start has always been to create the kind of event we would want to attend, and that's been one of the keys to our success. We provided to our guests the attention to detail and customer service that we would like to receive. We wanted Tiki Kon to be big enough to have some muscle, but not so big as to be impersonal or overly commercialized; Tiki enough to attract fans from around the world, but with a laid back Northwest attitude and unique sense of style.
Even as we grew from 200 attendees to nearly 1,000, we took pride in still personally answering every question and concern that crossed our desks, helping guests and holding their hands when needed, and making our event easy to attend for attendees, vendors, presenters, and performers alike. We put ourselves out there in the crowd and always tried to be present for our guests, making time to mingle and make new friends, and doing our best to make everyone feel taken care of. This wasn't a business for us, but a labor of love we've been doing on top of full time jobs, something we've enjoyed and felt deeply passionate about.
Ten years and a long global pandemic later, we find ourselves now with the same mission but different priorities and interests. The kind of event we want to attend has changed. And by extension, the sort of experiences we create for our ohana will also change.
Instead of ending it, why not pass the Tiki torch to someone else?
It takes a lot of heart and determination to run a conference like Tiki Kon with the level of sincerity, love, and expertise that we've put into it. It's a reflection of our personalities and values, and it's a legacy we're very proud and possessive of. Whether we passed the torch to someone as passionate as us, or sold it off to a corporate interest, it might continue, but it wouldn't be the same. No matter how successful, it would become a reflection of someone else's personality and vision, even if it were still named the same.
So we're keeping the Tiki Kon™ brand. We have more stories to tell and more experiences to create under that banner. Perhaps someone as motivated as us will make the leap and fill the void we're leaving, but do it under their own flag with their own priorities and mission. We sincerely hope so! We might even help.
What does the future hold?
We're not quite sure yet, but "the Pacific Northwest's Polynesian-pop extravaganza" will live on, marching to the beat of its own drum. Tiki Kon will continue. We’ll continue to produce events in Portland under the Tiki Kon banner, just not in its current format. It’ll be like a deconstructed Tiki Kon spread out throughout the year…single night shows, one-day conferences, vending events, parties, and new experiences with an eye towards quality over quantity, and a focus on our local community.
One thing is certain, the Tiki Kon home bar tour will continue. It's the longest-running bar crawl of its kind, and we don't plan to break that run. But instead of four huge tour buses, maybe its one or two smaller coaches that can better navigate the more interesting bywaters of the Portland home bar scene. Maybe it's quarterly instead of annually. Instead of symposiums held in the largest, beigest meeting room of a big conference hotel, maybe it's more personal talks and hands-on cocktail classes with a dozen attendees, held in the basement bars of the presenters. Maybe instead of taking over a hotel ballroom for a couple nights, it's swanky themed evening in a supper club. We're not sure yet, but we're excited to see what the future holds.