If there seemed like a lot more costumed people walking around the city this weekend – particularly adults – that’s because there were. And it was not just because of Halloween.
This past weekend the Renton Camber of Commerce hosted the first ever Renton City Comic Convention, or RenCon, down at the Red Lion on Grady Way. The event drew hundreds of people into the city this weekend for three days of comics, cosplay, and other assorted geekiness.
And I have to say, it was a pretty good time all the way around. I got my picture taken with a DeLorean decked out Back To The Future-style, pawed through boxes and boxes of cheap comic books from my youth (I spent most of the weekend sitting on the floor reading old comics, though the wife did not let me build a couch fort…) and even listened to a talk about the Journey to Mars from a guy who works at NASA.
And all without leaving Renton. That’s not a bad weekend.
When I first heard of plans to host a convention here in Renton I admit thought “Why?” I mean, a good con is a good time and all, but it just didn’t seem like there was a need for another, especially out in the burbs.
I am here to tell you I was wrong. Kudos to the Chamber and especially to idea man Ben Andrews. This thing was not only good for Renton right now, but has incredible potential for years to come.
I checked in with Chamber president Vicky Baxter on Monday to see if I could get some final numbers and I have to say, they were pretty impressive.
According to Baxter, there were 325 pre-registered attendees by Friday and by weekend’s end, a total of 800 paid attendees and 300+ children under 10 (admitted free) visited the Con over its three days.
On the other side there were more than 30 vendors crammed into a handful of rooms and offering everything from comics to toys to books by local authors to bath bombs. According to Baxter, many have already asked to pre-register for next year’s event.
What was most interesting to me was that the vendors at the event seemed to be of the smaller variety. Several of our Renton shops that cater to the more nerdy pursuits had booths set up and several of the other vendors were the same types of shops from other local cities, like the comic shop from Auburn. I’d never been to their store, but thanks to the con, they got some of my money.
It’s providing a place for these smaller shops that can really help establish RenCon because it can get way too expensive and a small shop like the Comic Hut on Third or that store in Auburn can get lost in a giant convention hall in a city like Seattle. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have good stuff.
“There is a niche for smaller comic conventions because the big ones sell out quickly and do not allow smaller vendors and comic collectors a chance to display their goods,” Baxter told me in an email, adding that the feedback from the small vendors was all positive.
If there was anything to complain about, it might be the size of the venue, as the Red Lion felt like it was already beginning to strain against the crowd.
But that shouldn’t be a problem for that much longer. After all, it was tough not notice that one of the event’s sponsors, SECO Development is building a shiny, new convention center up on the shores of Lake Washington
Obviously, that doesn’t guarantee anything going forward, as the Chamber Board of Directors are just beginning to evaluate the overall event and will decide whether or not they try it again.
But if there is anything I have learned from comic books and comic book movies over the course of my life it’s this: When something is this successful, you make a sequel.