The Golden Triangle is about to be invaded. Nothing to fear, however; the incoming are gathering to celebrate geek culture, gaming and the world of fantasy. The Golden Triangle Comic and Toy Expo will take place Saturday, Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the lower level of Trotter Convention Center in downtown Columbus.
The expo is the brainchild of Christopher Tarantino, emergency manager at Columbus Air Force Base. Married to a Pontotoc native and Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine graduate, Tarantino has lived in Mississippi for four and one-half years. When not working with FEMA or on disaster preparedness, the New Jersey native might be found organizing events like the Tupelo Comic Con, and now this expo in Columbus.
Limited in scale for its debut outing, the Aug. 13 event will serve to gauge interest in the Golden Triangle area.
“We want this to grow, and we want to build it so this benefits the local community,” said Tarantino, 31. “People are driving to places like Georgia and New Orleans for these; there was nothing here for the local populace.”
Everyone has a little bit of geek inside, the organizer said. Geek pop culture and video games bring generations together that sometimes don’t have anything else in common.
“The expos bring together people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Tarantino.
Highlights Saturday at Trotter will include a visit from Star Wars Imperial Stormtroopers of the 501st Legion based in Memphis, Tennessee, several vendors with merchandise ranging from Pokemon to Zelda, artwork and two main gaming tournaments. The expo will also make a donation to a local charity following the event.
“The troopers will be here from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and they will have a backdrop to take pictures and pose with the public,” Tarantino said.
Tournaments include a Super Smash Bros. Brawl sponsored by GameStop, and a Magic: The Gathering showdown presented by Down to Game.
“Depending on how well this does, we could easily see this (expo) going bigger,” said store leader Michael Melvin of GameStop in Starkville. He recently moved to the area from Birmingham, Alabama, and has participated in comic cons in cities including Atlanta. “I think this is going to be a great event.”
Aubrey Knight, manager of Down to Game in Starkville, explained that the Magic tournament is a competitive collectible card game.
“This is the first convention around here in a long time,” said Knight. It’s a positive development, giving hobbyists a chance to come together and vendors the opportunity to reach new customers as well as serve present ones, he noted.
Dress it up
Attending the expo in the costume of a favorite character is encouraged and adds to the atmosphere, Tarantino said. “It lets people dress up before Halloween!”
Popular costume choices at comic con events across the country draw from numerous realms and games. Any fantasy character, from Chewbacca or Cat Woman to Super Mario, are frequently spotted.
“It’s great to see a father, mother and their children at these events dressed in costume. Everyone has a great time,” said the organizer. “It’s nice to see everyone come together and see their love of the culture.”
How to go
Expo admission is $10 at the door, $8 for first responders and military personnel, and $5 for children. Follow the event at facebook.com/goldentrianglecomicandtoy/ or visit goldentrianglecomiccon.org. For information, email email@example.com.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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