Every year hundreds of thousands of people from around the world attend comic and pop culture conventions. While many people are familiar with some of the more famous ones such as San Diego Comic Con, BlizzCon and PAX Prime, there are still numerous lesser-known conventions that have a very dedicated following. Here are 6 lesser-known conventions that maybe, just maybe, should be on your radar (in no particular order).
Gen Con (July 30 – Aug 2 – Indianapolis, IN)
This convention is the longest-running gaming convention in North America, and this year will mark their 48th convention. Gen Con is self-described as “the largest consumer hobby, fantasy, science fiction and adventure game convention in North America.” Primarily centered around board games, this convention pulled in over 55,000 attendees last year. If you’re a fan of all things board games, this is definitely the convention for you.
GeekGirlCon (Oct 10 – Oct 11 – Seattle, WA)
Often viewed as having one of the friendliest crowds of any of the conventions, GeekGirlCon is quickly rising in popularity. This convention is all about embracing the achievements and “geek” culture of women. This entails all forms of geekery, from comics to science and technology. GeekGirlCon has been around since 2011 and was one of the first to adopt the now industry-wide policy changes for anti-harassment of women and cosplayers at conventions.
Anime Expo (July 2 – July 5 – Los Angeles, CA)
Not necessarily a small show, this anime (Japanese animation) centric convention started in 1992 and is the second longest running anime convention in North America. This year there is an estimated 86,000 people attending the show throughout the weekend. With both manga and anime being accepted more and more into mainstream culture, the size and popularity of this event continues to grow. Worth checking out, if only for the ridiculous amounts of cosplay.
GI Joe (April 9 – April 12 – Springfield, IL)
If you didn’t know about this convention, now you know…and knowing is half the battle. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Many folks remember the awesome cartoon from the 80’s and 90’s, as well as the numerous action figures and movies released. But did you know that there’s also a GI Joe convention? Of course there is! This convention brings together all sorts of collectors and fans from a product line that dates back to the 1964. Well worth the trip if you have ever been a fan.
Pensacon (Feb 19 – Feb 21, 2016 – Pensacola, FL)
Pensacon? How have you not heard of Pensacon?! This convention first opened it’s doors in 2013 and doubled in size during the 2014 year. What sets this convention apart from some of the other smaller ones is the total buy-in of the community for the event. Area businesses and local attractions opened their doors to the convention goers with open arms throughout the event, leading to an economic boost of around 3 million dollars to the area over the weekend. All this and I didn’t even mention the awesome turn out of exhibitors, special guests and artists. Lastly, what better excuse to get out of the cold in February and travel down to Florida.
Vermont Comic Con (Sept 19 & Sept 20 – Burlington, VT)
Vermont, the land of cheese, butter, beer, the arts and maple syrup is now also home to one of the more family friendly conventions around. Hosting a VTCC Jr. program, this convention has activities specifically built for the younger crowd that often gets forgotten at larger events. With the added draw of comic heavyweights attending in both their first year and scheduled to attend this year, this smaller scale convention near the Canadian border looks to grow into a force to be reckoned with over the next few years. Did I forget to mention it’s the beginning of leaf season around that time as well? Beautiful!
Article by Dave Morton – Pop Culture Community Curator – Gemr