A Mini or "miniature conference" is a gathering of mostly local hobbyists with learning opportunities, build sessions, and networking experience for those of us doing animated displays. The MN Mini is mostly MN folks but we do not exclude others from also attending, the more the merrier! Often, vendors from out of state come to attend and give presentations. This is a great chance to connect with some of the experts in the hobby!
The cost is to cover the few minor expenses we have, but primarily for providing lunch during the event. Last year was very challenging having everyone pay separately for lunch for the venue and attendees. This year we will collect money up front and pay 1 bill to the venue for lunch. There is an option to attend for free but that is for those who can only come for a little bit and not be there for the day. That is also why the 'free' ticket does not include raffle entry in order to prevent folks from showing up the last hour just to try and claim raffle prizes.
Minis are a great way to make friends in the local community and provides an excellent way to have local help. If you're new to animated lighting displays, attending is a great way to learn and be exposed to many things in order to build out your display. The vendors in this hobby are very generous and offer discount codes for the attendees to use for a brief period after the mini in order to purchase lights, props, sequences and other supplies!