This past weekend, Supercon invaded the Raleigh Convention Center. Celebrity guests like LeVar Burton, Justin Roiland and Ric Flair attracted hordes of fans from across the pop culture spectrum, and for three days the convention floor was filled with colorful costumes, artists, writers, content creators and vendors galore.
The Raleigh Supercon was put on by Super Conventions, Inc., a Florida-based company that specializes in high-profile events and conventions that attract thousands of guests and big-name celebrities. According to its website, the company was established in 2006 and its flagship event – the Florida Supercon – attracted over 51,000 attendees in 2015.
“I’ve been excited for this for weeks,” said Raleigh native Joel Hayes. “I’ve had my tickets taped to my mirror like some kind of ‘90s cliché.”
According the event organizers and city officials, the Raleigh Supercon stood to substantially benefit Raleigh financially with an estimated $1.8 million of additional income in the form of everything from parking revenue to increased restaurant and bar traffic.
Entry lines at the convention center initially stretch out the door, and the floor stayed packed all weekend. Con-goers moved between lower floors housing and rows upon rows of artists and vendors and upper levels that played host to various informative panels and Q & A sessions. Food trucks and stalls were on hand to satisfy hungry customers, and a full bar served patrons with cocktails and a draft menu featuring beer from Foothills brewery.
“That panel on crazy amusement parks was great,” said Shaun Keller. “I’m into stuff like that … learning about crazy things that I’ll never be able to experience myself is part of why this is cool. I won’t be able to go to Marineland any more than I’ll be able to be in a Marvel movie, so this is what it’s all about. I want to ask Yondu questions and talk to that guy about why he loved Sesame Place.”
Keller drove all the way from Virginia to attend the convention, but not everyone was as excited for Supercon’s inaugural year in North Carolina.
“It just doesn’t feel like family here,” said Janie Dawes, a resident of Durham. “I’ve been going to the NC ComicCon pretty much since it began, and I’m here because they have so many cool celebrities I’m trying to say hi to … but this whole convention gives off a vibe like I’m supposed to buy something.”