An event that can best be described as Halloween in September will take over the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds once again on Labor Day, providing a space where superheroes, zombies and even some celebrities can make their way from the big screen to Turlock as part of the city’s biannual Comic Con.
Event coordinator Ziggy Star was inspired to bring a Comic Con to town two and a half years ago, shortly after he and his daughters attended a similar event just down the freeway in Modesto. The family hosted Turlock’s first-ever Comic Con in February 2017, which attracted 3,000 people from all over the Valley. The event honoring all things pop culture was so successful that Star began hosting them in other California cities, as well as twice a year in Turlock. Monday’s event will be the city’s sixth Comic Con.
“This Comic Con is our best one because it’s our home,” Star said, adding with a laugh. “There are a lot of nerds and geeks here…everyone is a lot more well-rounded.”
Comic Cons are meant to celebrate the worlds of comics, science fiction and fantasy under one roof and Turlock’s typically features celebrity guests, artist appearances and vendor booths that attract attendees from as far as Petaluma and Reno, Star said, resulting in larger-than-life lines that wrap around the fairgrounds.
The biggest appeal of Comic Con lies in the cosplaying, however, where adults, teens and children alike can play dress up without the fear of being judged, taking on the costume of their favorite pop culture characters. While well-known cosplayers will be at Turlock Comic Con dressed in realistic costumes, the public also gets in on the fun.
“My favorite part is seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces, and having people tell me thank you for bringing this to Turlock,” Star said. “It means more than anything to me seeing the community rally and get behind something.”
At events past, Turlock Comic Con has welcomed the likes of Debbie Lee Carrington, known for her roles in “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” and “Men in Black,” Turlock native Erika Ervin from “American Horror Story” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” stunt actor Nick Palma. Last year, Disney artist K. Lynn Smith and C. Andrew Nelson, the only actor to have ever officially portrayed both Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, were at Turlock Comic Con signing autographs.
Monday’s event will welcome actor Brandon Crane, best known for his roles as young Ben Hanscom in the original “It,” and Doug Porter from “The Wonder Years.” Crane also has small a role in the latest Pennywise film, “It Chapter Two.”
In addition to meeting celebrities, pop culture lovers will also be able to shop for memorabilia and buy unique, handmade items pertaining to their favorite books, shows and films from over 100 vendors that will be present at the event.
A cosplay costume contest will also take place, Star added, and the competition has grown from about 20 competitors in the event’s first year to now over a hundred entries all competing for cash prizes.
“It’s a real community,” Star said.
Turlock’s sixth Comic Con will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 2 at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Advanced tickets can be purchased at Ziggy’s Video Game Exchange, 381 N. Golden State Blvd., or at the door on the day of the event.