Same here. I thought it would be intimidating, but it was nothing but laid-back and friendly. Everybody was so cool! And I actually took notes at panels. NOTES. I learned stuff!
Looking back, I feel rather silly for being even the slightest bit intimidated about competing. I'm totally competing in 09, and I may do more than one competition in 10 since it's in my backyard! But even if you don't compete and just want to stare at all the pretty costumes, you're in good company. We're all going to appreciate costumes, learn about costumes, and show off costumes, whether we're novices or masters.
Founder and Vice-President, Madison Area Costuming Society, a chapter of the International Costumer's Guild
Strange Land Costuming - www.strangelandcostumes.com