Well, I don't want to sound like an advertisement or anything, but last year I got a chance to go to my very first anime convention and it happened to be AO (nuuu not Anarchy Online :roll:). And I must say that.... AHHHHH!!! It's was just tons of fun! I mean, every few people means that you get you meet like... EVERYONE. And yes.. you encounter everyone.
Now, by convention standards, AO is REALLY small. Last year it ranged at around 200-300 people, but my my... what a random pile of good fun! One of the reasons it's so tiny is because it's really underfunded and it's in the middle of nowhere. Ever hear of Boise, Idaho? Well, that's where it's at. If you have the time (3 days), the cash ($30-35 cheap~), and you're in the area, you should stop by and check it out. It might be a bit more amusing than it seems.