Pop Culture Convention in Wenatchee

Sci-Fi crowd
By Gary Bégin
Next time you hear someone laugh and say negative things about guys and gals who love role-play gaming, dressing up as Spiderman and watching Star Wars marathons remember, fantasy game players “got bank," that is to say, expendable income.
That message was not lost on many local merchants who set up shop at the event where the Town Toyota Center usually has ice.
Sew Creative owner Tim Miller said, "We had a blast at the Wen-Con. We decided to put a good foot forward for this event in hopes of connecting more with the wonderful group of people that were there; giving them the knowledge that they have a place to come to for ideas, knowledge, classes, machines, supplies and fun! We have a great group of staff here at Sew Creative with a lot of experience that some people in the valley and beyond may be unaware of. We also love that there was an event like this to foster the creativity and imagination of so many people; that's part of what we do, give people an avenue to make what's in their imagination real. We are in business today because of our community; we wanted to thank them for letting us be here. As for the picture, yes that is me with my Banjola, it was family made and gifted to me by my three sisters, Heather, Grace and Bethany as well as my step mother Catherine when my natural father passed a couple years ago. I think being part of a business in a community like ours it is important to share some of who you are, not just be another face, that's why I decided to bring something dear to me. I wanted to share it with a community that was dear to me,” Miller said.

East Wenatchee's Debra Johanson of Fairy Bliss and the Two Rivers Medieval Faire said, "I was shocked by the amount of people interested in learning more about the Medieval Faire." Johanson said. The “Faire,” a non-profit organization, paid $75 for its booth.

Even the army and Marine Corps recruiting cadre showed great interest, manning booths just inside the entranceway of the TTC. "We saw an opportunity to meet potential recruits," said Marine Staff Sgt. Christopher Pederson of the Wenatchee "Permanent Contact Station."
Pederson and his assistant Pfc. Erick Straub, allowed passersby to try some pull ups and talk about careers in the Corps.

Thaddeus Deane owner/operator of Sanctuary, a "Magic" gaming shop in Wenatchee said, "This first year I broke even basically, but the publicity and outreach was invaluable. I greatly appreciated the opportunity and met many new and old friends during Wen-Con.!" His shop specializes in Magic the Gathering and many other collectible card games and supplies and is located next to Abby's Pizza on 5th and Western in Wenatchee. Deane paid $125 for his double-sized corner booth, but lucked-out as the neighboring booth was unoccupied and so Wen-Con managers allowed him even more space. “I consider the event to be a win-win-win and I am definitely going back next year,” he said. Deane said he basically broke even in his figuring as his revenues more than doubled his booth expenses and he sold enough products to cover what he had to pay for other expenses, including re-investing money back into his shop replacing what he sold. His extra large booth did attract eight gamers and many more attendees stopped in to watch them and learn about Magic.

A simulated R2D2, replica of the “Back to the Future” DeLorean, numerous gaming areas and other exhibits and product vendors crowded into the arena for a fascinating day-long sci-fi festival.
Illustrators, graphic artists, writers, tee shirts, gaming experts, comic books and sales kiosks featuring toy and figurine collectibles highlighted a tour of the annual "Pop Culture Convention."
Kids and adults sported superhero costumes like Superman and Spiderman. Star Wars characters were everywhere and even old classics like Star Trek and Dungeons & Dragons made appearances.
Wen-Con Event Coordinator Melissa Pitt said the event may expand to two days next year.
“A few things other “cons” told me were that it takes at least one full year to plan and to expect maybe 200 people at a first year con, especially a one day con.  But they also suggested we keep it to one day, learn to walk before running and take at least one full year to plan the first convention. What we learned from others became our road map and we followed it very closely, which I believe contributed to much of our success.  Unfortunately, we didn't have one full year as I chose April based on schedules of other cons in our area, but we pulled it off in seven months with lots of work from everyone involved,” said Pitt.
“We are also incredibly grateful to our vendors, who took a chance on coming to a first year, one day event as we know it was a "roll of the dice" for them whether anyone would show up. Without this list of fabulous vendors, we would not have had the attendees,” according to Pitt.
“We are still pulling together the final exact numbers, but we know we had at least 1,700 attendees/1,900 if you include the vendor ticketed attendees and 75 vendors. Our goal had been 1,000 (in spite of the predictions of 200 attendees) and our fantasy goal was 1,200. We definitely see this as a huge success!”
“We will definitely be back in 2018, but are looking at whether it will be one or two days. We will have a survey going out soon to vendors and many of our attendees to receive their input as we make this decision and we hope to be able to announce next year's date(s) in the next month,” concluded Pitt.

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