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Chi-Fi Con Books Scaled-Back Conference at Palmer House

 The inaugural Chi-Fi Convention has been rescheduled for March at the Palmer House.
The inaugural Chi-Fi Convention has been rescheduled for March at the Palmer House.
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Flickr/Gage Skidmore

THE LOOP — Chicago geeks, rejoice: Chi-Fi Con is back on.

Late Wednesday, event founder and chairman James Dobbs announced on the convention's website that the conference was "back on course," but scheduled for a scaled-down, single-day event March 29 at the Palmer House hotel.

Attendees already registered can register again for the makeup event for free.  Registration is $15 for newcomers.

Guests and speakers on the smaller schedule include bloggers from the Skepchick Network, artist Kieran Strange, "Babylon 5" star Jason Carter and musical guest Runaway Five.

The announcement included a statement from Palmer House General Manager Dean Lane saying he was "thrilled to welcome Chi-Fi to the hotel," and wishing for "a long-lasting relationship between Chi-Fi and the Palmer House."

The inaugural "convention celebrating geekdom" had been scheduled for March 27-30 but was derailed earlier this month when Dobbs abruptly canceled his contract with the Westin River North. He claimed that a hotel staff member called fest attendees "freaks" and refused to accept organizers' anti-harassment policy.

Westin River North officials were silent regarding Dobbs' claims that personal clashes with hotel staff forced him to cancel the big-budget event, but issued a statement on Facebook saying management was "extremely disappointed in the false claims being made by Chi-Fi Con."

"Our team worked diligently to accommodate this group booking, and we never objected to the organization, its attendees or the anti-harassment policy," the statement said. "After much discussion, Chi-Fi Con asked to be allowed out of their contract when it became clear that mutual needs could not be met, and we agreed. We are disappointed that we were unable to resolve the situation."

Dobbs told DNAinfo Chicago he stands by his claims, and hoped for a full four-day Chi-Fi convention next year.