Nerd-Con expanding its universe

Nerd-Con expanding its universe
Nerd-Con is returning for its second year at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido this month. After last year’s success, event organizers have expanded the convention to three days. File photo by Tony Cagala

ESCONDIDO — For those who missed out, or want more — the nerd revolution continues this month.

Gamers, cosplayers, anime and more will be just a few genres featured at the 2016 Nerd-Con beginning Aug. 26 at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido. The three-day event kicks off with a badge pick-up and VIP party, followed by two days of panels and attendees breaking down gaming, comics, superheroes and more.

Nerd-Con founders Joel Jones, Trish Murphy, Rachel Youch and Stephanie Pandes are all returning and are expanding this year’s iteration after an eye-opening inaugural event last year. About 3,000 people attended last year’s con and several months later, the four friends knew they needed to expand their universe.

“Last year was great … and had an amazing turnout,” Jones said. “We kind of got forced into having multiple days just to be able to fit everybody. However, 12 acres isn’t small by any means and to take over that much space and make it fun over every inch hasn’t been without its challenges.”

While last year’s con exceeded expectations, this year’s version aims to clean up several issues associated with the inaugural event.

One startling revelation, Jones said, was a quarter-mile long line of people waiting to get inside.

This year, to combat lines, more rooms and a day for badge pick-ups has been added to ease congestion.

Perhaps the biggest goal for this year, however, is to create a less segregated event, Jones and Murphy said.

The four co-founders want to create an environment where gamers mingle and learn about other genres, such as anime or comics, for example.

“We want to bring people together,” Jones said. “We want people to try things that they normally wouldn’t go to. There’s too much segregation already, so we want to bring people together.”

In addition, the event will feature media/film guest Flint Dille, cosplayers Harley Kat, D-Lo, Reel Guise and Amber Arden, cosplay fashion entities Orion’s Originals and Girl with One Eye and artist Linda Nguyen (KimCHI).

“Another aspect is that all these different areas … are interchangeable,” Murphy added.

“Everything overlaps with each other. Cosplay is a huge thing because that really overlaps with everything we have at our convention.”

With Nerd-Con 2015 being such a hit, Jones said they’ve been inundated this year with groups and businesses wanting to get involved through sponsorships.

Though, he said they’ve had to turn those groups and businesses that don’t meet their criteria away.

Those who are on board, however, are part of the group’s philosophy of what they want their event to be. Instead of a commercially driven convention, they want to cultivate a more family-orientated atmosphere.

“Sunday’s are typically family days,” Murphy said. “That’s what we are trying to do with something at Nerd-Con and make it more of a family day and kid-oriented. We will have demonstrations and workshops, Minecraft workshops because kids love Minecraft.”

One-day general admission passes run $14 for kids 5-12, $17 for ages 13-17 and $20 for 18 and older, while VIP passes are $25, $35 and $50, respectively. The two-day passes are $24, $30 and $35 for general admission, while VIP tickets are $40, $60 and $85.

Tickets are available at nerd-con.com.

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