I'm a relative newcomer to it. Over half of the dedicated con-goers have no children, which enabled and encouraged participation in other interests. About five years ago, a friend started needing transportation. Since she runs the Art Show at MW and is not ready to retire from it (and they don't exactly have a substitute ready to jump in), it's important to the Con for her to get there, and I was now in a position that it was pleasant to add it to my interests. Not to mention that I get my hotel bill paid by virtue of getting Karen to the Con.
There are several special interests that you might pursue at most Science Fiction or Media Cons:
1. Art Show
a. Art shows change in tenor depending on the Con. At MW, good portraits of famous actors/characters are most sought-after, followed by good portraits of animals (most especially dragons).
b. This is where I hang out, because I'm unofficial 'second in command'.
a. This has developed into more than a costume parade. To be truly successful, you need some kind of 'story' to go with it.
b. If I had time, this is what I would be doing. I have won at other Cons in the past. With my sewing and coaching, my daughter placed second at DragonCon the year we went there.
3. Fan Vids
a. Videos created by fans. These can be fun, truly great, or truly awful.
b. Again, with more time, I'd be watching these. Not participating though. I'm not that kind of creative.
a. Role playing games, board games, Magic-type games. There are always some going on.
b. One of those things I'd be doing with more time. At home, my chief pleasure is playing Euro board games with friends and family.
5. Blaster Battle
a. Most Cons have some version of this. Dress up in some kind of battle gear (which is half the fun) and chase each other around to specific rules.
b. More time? Ain't ever gonna happen.
a. The true 'meat' of the Con. Panels can be anything from "How to Slash Kirk and Spock" to "Holy Mother Grammatica on Correct Use of Adverbs". At MWC, there will be panels on The Hobbit as well as Magnificent 7, Starsky and Hutch, Supernatural, Arrow, Once Upon a Time, Bones, NCIS - any popular program or movie, and some books.
b. I attend fewer panels every year, because to me they begin to all sound the same.