My first afest... Thoughts.
Registration was horrid. Over an hour with only 8 people in front of me... It didnt make sense.
Costume Contest Walkon (yes we did win best of show) was a bit disorganized with the whole waiting forever for the opening ceremonies, line up here, then there, then hurry up, then wait, then move... then wait some more.
Judging was different than most other contests I entered. Judges were waiting for me to show my work, instead of being proactive about it and ask the contestants questions. I sold myself well, and made sure I showed them everything I did (I also bring a full documented progress shot folder with notes to leave them just to make sure). If a shy cosplayer entered and didnt really push their work properly they could have gotten overlooked. As for their knowledge of costuming, I thought it was great. But encouraging them to get up from behind the table and check seems, see construction up close may help avoid people feeling like this. I do not want to have to take off costume pieces and put it on the table to make sure they see it properly.
As for the intermediate winner in a bikini, I looked closely at her armor, and then questioned her about it. It was hand sculpted, sanded to near perfection, then silicone molds were made of them, THEN casted those pieces really well. Plus a very clean paint job. It may not seem impressive to someone who has not learned the skill, but what she had was far superior than foam armor. I understand what went into it, its actually more impressive than my full set of armor that I entered with.
Hall judges were a lot more inquisitive about our costumes. I did not get to see much of what entered, so I can not comment on their decisions.
For the Skit contest there just were not enough awards. Fatal Frame was awesome, but so was Soul Eater and FFVI. The production value, performance and originality of all those skits was top notch. All could have won best of show/masters in any convention I have been to. I would have hated to be the judges in that situation. Heck me and my fiancee were arguing before the awards were announced about who should win.
I did have a great time though. Glad I went. Got a lot of great memories and got to chat with a lot of awesome people, many of whom are in this thread.