Having spent my youth in the Midlands of the United States (including summers in a small town of 1200), I understand the desire to experience the world just over the horizon,. With Broadway tours and rock concerts somewhat repulsed by the local venues, we had to actively invite geek celebrities to visit.
So I was intrigued when Wizard World announced a show in Des Moines, Iowa for June 2015. C2E2 draws a wide regional audience of cosplayers and comics fans, but I wasn’t sure DM and Iowa would draw enough interest. (Of course, it’s only two hours from Omaha, but for some, the Missouri is an ocean.)
How well did Wizard World do at the Iowa Events Center (Des Moines’ convention center) last weekend? The Des Moines Register reports:
Thousands of con-goers — most donning an article or two that displayed their geekery, but some dressed completely as their favorite comic characters — flooded the inaugural Wizard World held over the weekend at the Iowa Events Center. Three-day passes for the popular event sold out weeks before Wizard World arrived, while Saturday admission sold out in the days leading up to the convention.
(Note: this hasn’t happened for this weekend’s Sacramento show. VIP tickets are still available.)
There was also some geek royalty there (who is also a superhero in real life!):
Miss Iowa Autumn Weaver-Nigro, 24, posed for endless pictures and played with young comic fans while dressed as Wonder Woman. Deaf since birth, Weaver-Nigro said going to cons and participating in cosplay (a term for the hobby of making and wearing your own costumes) helped her gain self-confidence and come to terms with the bullying she endured in school.
She also visits children’s hospitals in costume!
And what I said about Nebraska…
[Jeff] Schipman, who drove in from Omaha, said he has heard a bit of jealousy in Nebraska that Des Moines got Wizard World and Omaha didn’t. “I don’t mind,” he said. “I drove here, I’m fine.”
(Hey, Lance, Omaha’s got a nice new convention center downtown, lots of great food and drink nearby, plus the College World Series just blocks away…)
How happy were the vendors?
Many exhibitors and vendors said business was good throughout the weekend.
“It’s been phenomenal, way better than I expected,” said Cam Adams, 28, an artist selling prints and on-demand drawings. “I am selling a lot more than I anticipated. I’ve sold about a dozen original drawings, which is great. I never sell that many originals.”
“The foot traffic has just been amazing,” said Andrew Smith, 31, who was working the Iowa Ghostbusters booth. (The Iowa Ghostbusters are a “Ghostbusters” fan group.) “We brought a ton of promotional materials and fliers, and we were wiped out a day and a half into the convention.”
The final word, from the WW CEO:
“We had very high expectations for Wizard World Comic Con Des Moines, but somehow the fans exceeded those,” said Wizard World CEO John Macaluso. “Attendees, exhibitors, artists and celebrities agree that this was a fabulous first show, and we’re excited about coming back next May.”