Elkhart — It was a year ago this weekend when Elkhart staged its first comic con event. It was a huge success.
Now plans are under way to make this year’s event three times bigger. Last year organizers planned for around 3 to 4,000 people, but more than 10,000 showed up. This year they are planning accordingly, and businesses are already preparing.
The GameOn VR lounge in Elkhart will help host the event’s gaming center.
“Everyone says there is nothing to do in Elkhart, well that’s not true anymore,” says owner Ralph Person.
Every day, GameOn brings gamers to downtown Elkhart. In only a few months, thousands of gamers will be right across the street at the Lerner Theatre for Elkhart’s second annual Hall of Heroes Comic Con.
Allen Stewart, executive director of the Hall of Heroes, says last year he quickly realized the Lerner wasn’t quite big enough.
“Right away on Saturday, Mayor Neese and I were kind of all watching all the crowds coming in. We were like, ‘Holy geez, we’re not going to be able to hold all these people,'” said Stewart
At one point the Lerner got so crowded the fire marshal had to stop letting people in. To prevent that from happening this year, the event will extend into the streets. A second stage and more vendors will be outside.
That’s why organizers are holding off on the event until September. People will also have to wait a few more months to find out this year’s special guests.
“We have signed a couple of contracts that people will be pretty excited about seeing some of the acts that we have coming,” said Stewart.
This year’s event is designed to accommodate between 15 and 20,000 people. Person is excited for the extra revenue they will bring but is a bit nervous about the crowds.
“We’re pretty busy normally, so for that weekend it’s almost scary to see how many people are going to be here. It’s absolutely terrifying,” said Person.
The event is scheduled for Sept. 8 and 9.
Tickets will go on sale in May.
Applications for vendors and volunteers are already available.