In its fourth year, Saturday’s Comic-Con event on Main Street was bigger than ever.
Rose Ayers, who runs Memories on Main, an antiques and collectibles store on Main Street, said the event she began organizing four years ago keeps getting bigger every year.
Ayers said her goal in hosting the event is to create a fun atmosphere which gives families and children something to enjoy on Main Street.
The event included a scavenger hunt and a costume contest. Ayers’ store also played host to some local authors, who signed books and spoke to fans, and a number of vendors were present selling comic books and related items. A free movie at the Earle Theatre capped the day.
Another goal of the event, according to Ayers, was to create an environment that highlighted what local businesses had to offer. Though Mayberry’s Bark & Meow Co. and the Fluid Factory played integral roles in making the event a success, an estimated 40 Main Street businesses took part.
Ayers said as a way of promoting those businesses, each establishment put a science-fiction or comic-related item in its storefront window. The scavenger hunt, which kicked off in the morning, led participants along Main Street as they followed clues.
She added the winner of the scavenger hunt received a gift basket, to which participating businesses contributed.
Around midday, 30 to 40 people took part in the costume contest, which was held in the parking lot at Bark & Meow. Winners of the contest received a Comic-Con t-shirt and a gift certificate to Memories on Main, the Fluid Factory, The Dapper Hound or Fashion & Fun.
Vendors were also set up in the parking lot and on the sidewalk on Main Street. Comic enthusiasts, children and a few superheros and villains wandered the streets.
John Leopard, also known as TK-50119, was one of those villains. The Star Wars storm trooper said he is a member of the Carolinas Garrison of the 501st Legion. The Legion has about 11,000 members around the world, all of whom portray villains.
They pride themselves on wearing screen-accurate costumes, said Leopard, and on getting kids excited at events.
Leopard said Ayers contacted the all-volunteer force of villains and requested that a member of the Legion attend Saturday’s event. He travelled from Blowing Rock.
Though he mentioned it was a bit hot on Saturday to be a storm trooper on Main Street, he enjoyed his experience.
“I had a really good time, and I think all of the kids had fun,” said the 19-year-old college student.
In Memories on Main, local author Terry Collins was signing books and speaking with fans.
He said that he has written a book about Andy Griffith, but he has also worked on a number of well-known stories such as Scooby-Doo and How to Train Your Dragon.
Across from Collins sat Roosevelt Pitt Jr., a Mount Airy resident, and Kayla King.
Pitt said he created the fictional character Purge in 1993. After taking a hiatus to raise his children, he brought the character back in additional comic books. Purge looks after New Salem, the future version of Winston-Salem.
“He is the only superhero in North Carolina,” added Pitt.
King is the self-published author of a novel called Wolf’s War. She said it’s a fantasy book which uses fictional characters with supernatural abilities to encourage readers to find themselves and be proud of who they are.
The afternoon ended with a free showing of “Big Hero 6” at the Earle Theatre. Ayers said Memories on Main also furnished the movie.
She noted another thanks needed to be extended to Randy Simmons, a UNC-Greensboro student who helped her organize the event, and her staff at the antiques store.
While the goals of Saturday’s event were fun and promoting local businesses, Ayers also had a larger cause in mind. Donations were collected for the Surry County Chapter of the Autism Society of N.C.
Ayers, who has a family member with autism, said she hopes monetary donations will help the organization, but she also hopes the event will help in raising autism awareness.
At the event’s end, Ayers was pleased with the 2017 version of Comic-Con.
“I’m happy with the way it turned out this year,” said Ayers. “We will definitely have the event again.”
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.