I live in Kankakee/momence. Its about an hour from chicago too. Ive been goin to ACEN for the past 3 years and its really fun and there are tons of people. I will be there again this year and i would be more than happy to be your cosplay friend.
You will meet people and you should try finding cosplay meet-ups around you to meet new people. Theres less people than a convention so its less overwhelming. If you would like to meet up for ACEN PM me