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On Saturday, comic and pop-culture lovers from near and far gathered at the Southside Mall for the 2019 Willcon event. Comic-con lovers who attended the event had the chance to meet some special guests, which included Destiny 2 and Star Trek Online writer Christine Thompson, among others.

WillCon, the Tug Valley’s pop culture convention, met with continued growth during the third-annual show based on attendance and vendor responses. The event is sponsored by the Tug Valley Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“This year’s show was a great success,” said event organizer Jim Pajarillo. “This weekend was really hectic but it was worth the effort. The show was really good and rewarding.”

The attendance has grown each year since 2017, however, it was hard to get a true number on attendees because of the logistics of the South Side Malll where it was held this year.

“At the Williamson Field House, everyone was coming for WillCon, specifically, and entered through one door and we were able to put armbands on everyone and get a count that way,” Pajarillo said. “The South Side Mall has four or five entrances and some mall shoppers would visit WillCon as well.

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“Our vendors all said they noticed a bigger number this year and several sold out of their merchandise completely,” he continued. “We do believe it to be well in excess of last year’s 1,500 people, but I don’t like to guess at numbers and will leave that to others to do. The staff at the mall said they hadn’t seen the mall as busy in several years.”

Helping to support his assumption on the number of people at the event, the Gaming Company told him that is was their second busiest day only with their grand opening day being larger. The management at Peking Chinese Restaurant told him they were busy throughout the entire day. Also, he said there were visible lines at the newly reopened Corner Café in the mall all day.

He said approximately 50 vendors set up displays as WillCon and were very happy with the new location of the show.

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“We loved having the show at the Field House the past two years, but our vendors’ biggest concern was the lack of adequate climate control,” Pajarillo said. “At the mall we had air conditioning and everyone was comfortable all day. Also, being at the mall gave us so much more parking and people attending the show had places where they could eat without leaving the event.”

He said participants seemed to enjoy the variety of events and vendors at Willcon and said it was a very interactive day for everyone.

“We had more people in costume this year than previously, we even had full families in costumes,” Pajarillo said. “While the winner of our costume contest was being announced, his two children ran up on the stage to be with their dad and they were both wearing costumes as well. It was really heartwarming.”

He said everything went well overall for the show this year, however, there were a few bumps in the road, especially with the fact there was a power failure at the mall for several hours while setup for the show was in progress. The mall actually closed for more than two hours and organizers had to come back and work until late in the night to get ready for the event.

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“WillCon was a great success on Saturday,” Pajarillo said. “We are ready to start on next year’s event.”

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