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Third Comic Con rolling into town
Comic Con pic
Turlock Comic Con will return to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds on Feb. 11. - photo by Journal file photo

An event that can only be described as “Halloween in February” is making its way to Turlock for the third time this weekend, with thousands of people set to make their way to the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds for Comic Con – a celebration of all things pop culture, from film and television shows to comic books and video games.

Comic Cons have become a staple of geek culture and are held all over the nation each year, transporting participants to an alternate realty filled with superheroes, zombies and even some celebrities. Turlock’s first-ever Comic Con took place in February 2017, and nearly 3,000 attendees combined to make the event honoring the worlds of comics, science fiction and fantasy a huge success – so successful, in fact, that another event was held just seven months later, hosting equally-as-large crowds.

Event coordinator Ziggy Star anticipates this weekend’s third Turlock Comic Con to attract convention-goers by the thousands once more, he said. Star and his daughters attended a convention in Modesto two years ago and were inspired to bring the first Comic Con to Turlock. Since then, the two successful Turlock events have led the family to create their own convention organization, Ohana Comic Con, and they have since grown to host 36 different conventions throughout California this year alone.

“Turlock’s our home, so we always expect a big crowd,” said Star, whose events complete with celebrity guests, artist appearances and vendor booths attract attendees from as far as Petaluma and Reno, resulting in larger-than-life lines that wrap around the fairgrounds.

The biggest appeal of Comic Con lies in the cosplaying, 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. The most popular costumes so far in 2018 seem to be “Star Wars” characters, said Star, as well as some of the personalities from the latest superhero flick, “Black Panther.”

“Everyone’s accepted here. There’s a lot of love and a lot of inclusion,” said Star. “Where else can you take your kids for a day full of fun for under $10? It’s good entertainment – I’ve never seen so many happy people in one place.”

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,” and Turlock native Erika Ervin from “American Horror Story.” This weekend, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” stunt actor Nick Palma will be at Turlock Comic Con signing autographs, much to the delight of Michelangelo fans everywhere.

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 the countless 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 about Turlock, for Turlock,” said Star. “It’s a happy event – you don’t have to be something you’re not. You can be yourself, or dress up and be who you want to be.”

Turlock Comic Con will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. Children 12 years old and younger are free, as is parking, and tickets can be purchased in advance for $5 at Ziggy’s Video Game Exchange, 381 N. Golden State Blvd, or for $7 at the door on the day of the event.