Across the country there are many different cosplay, comic or gaming conventions. One of the most popular is Comic-Con, which is held in San Diego every year. That’s great and all, but what about those who can’t travel from the East Coast to the West Coast? Why not have something closer to home?

Florida has these types of conventions across the state in its most popular cities like MegaCon in Orlando and Tampa, ALTCon in Tallahassee and ParaCon in Pensacola. Considering that Jacksonville is the largest contiguous city in the U.S., it has the space and stamina to hold such an event. That’s why WasabiCon came to the rescue six years ago.

WasabiCon is a two-day event held at the Lexington Hotel & Conference Center Riverwalk. This year, it’s going down Saturday, October 21 through Sunday, October 22.WasabiCon SQUARE

WasabiCon CEO and Founder, Tom Croom, saw a future for Jacksonville and that future was to bring a dope, comic con convention to our city.

“All major cities have a comic con but Jacksonville … It’s a nice city,” Croom said.

Their goal is to be the longest running pop culture event in Jacksonville. WasabiCon took the center stage in 2012 being an annual pop culture convention designed to celebrate all things geek, ranging from anime and comics to tabletop gaming, video games and internet culture. The line doesn’t draw there, cosplay, paranormal and science fiction will be featured as well.

“It’s a weekend when everyone in the community is like-minded. Geek conventions are especially important because a lot of your fan-bases aren’t alpha, outgoing personalities. So, they are given a space, and a weekend that is kind of like them and makes them feel comfortable being themselves,” said Croom.AJ Michalka

WasabiCon will be featuring special guests from all realms of the culture. AJ Michalka from “Aly and AJ” and Todd Haberkorn who has been involved in a myriad of projects, including voice work on titles like “Fairy Tail.”

Along with that, there will be an Exhibitor’s Hall where local artists and vendors can sell merchandise and showcase different artwork. There will also be a viewing room that’ll screen videos from different anime and cartoon companies.

Another great thing about this convention is that they’ll have a Todd Haberkorn Bgaming room where you can play tabletop games, board games and CCG (Collectible Card Games). Video games will not be excluded, of course. WasabiCon will have a room full of consoles as old as Atari 2600 (from 1978) to an Xbox One.

There will even be a library of games that gamers can check out and play during the weekend. Part museum, part gaming experience … get it?

“The important message is that we are the longest running, most popular comic con in Jacksonville. The goal is to be the local show, working hard with local businesses, tourist bureaus and localists in general to let them know that this is their show,” Croom said.Photo 02

There will be prizes to be won and costume contests to dress up for. Let’s not forget the fan panels that’ll cover several topics like Marvel and Star Wars. Oh, did I forget to mention that there will be a Super Smash Bros Tournament? Yeah, there will be an epic showdown that attendees can watch during the event.

A local store called Video Game Rescue has been partnering with WasabiCon to host the tournament since their doors opened.

“We’re excited to bring such a fun event to Jacksonville,” said Dustin Gartenbush, owner of Video Game Rescue.

How will it go down? Well, starting August 24 people will hash it out at Video Game Rescue to try to win one of the eight preliminary tournaments. This will happen every weekend for eight weeks leading up to the WasabiCon event. The eight winners will get a free weekend pass to WasabiCon for the final epic battle … winner takes all.

“It’s like watching a wrestling match,” Croom joked.

If you’re passionate about your fandom, this will be the place to express it.Sailor Scouts of Jax

“Every single fan group that you can think of that exist here are set up at our show — local Ghostbusters and the 1701st Star Trek fan group,” Croom said. “Nintendo comes and sets up each year, too.”

This year, WasabiCon is expecting roughly 3,000 people to attend. Tickets are currently on sale. It’s $40 for the weekend, $30 for Saturday, October 21 and $20 for Sunday, October 22. Event parking is $5 for attendees.

Children under the age of 18 must have their parents present to purchase and pick up tickets. A signature is also required on the onsite registration form.

If you’re planning to stay at the hotel, there’s a special for attendees. Visit their website for more details. Don’t forget to follow their social media pages for chances to win monthly prizes.

“The success WasabiCon has enjoyed over the past five years has come partly from our corporate business relationships, but mostly through our taking the time to partner with the local fan community and their city … making this as much Jacksonville’s event as it is ours. We want this to become synonymous with Jacksonville as Dragon Con is with Atlanta.”Photo 09