Popular Event Coming to Louisville June 16-18

Writer / KJ McGlinn
Photography Provided

It was more than 10 years ago when PopCon co-owner Carl Doninger and a few close friends had the idea to create not just another convention but an experience unlike any other. This experience would immerse attendees in familiar pop culture while introducing them to new, exciting experiences, too.PopCon

Doninger had a passion for tabletop gaming. Some of his friends loved comic books. One had a passion for the show “My Little Pony.” And, a few just loved popular TV shows while another was passionate about his favorite creators on YouTube. What the group realized was every person in their life had a passion that fell under the “pop culture” category but not everyone had a place to gather and celebrate their passion.

Soon, Doninger was joined by co-owner Kris Keys.

“I thought it was a cool opportunity to plan an event that was a little different than other conventions out there,” Keys says. “It was an opportunity to spend time with my brother and some friends working toward some of their passions.”

The first PopCon was held in Indianapolis in June of 2014. Nine different pop culture genres were represented from movies, TV and comics to anime, eSports and tabletop gaming. Now, 10 years later, PopCon is a tradition for friends and family alike in Indianapolis and an annual trip for many people from around the world. Each year, more than 30,000 people attend PopCon.

“Once you fall into our universe, you are welcomed and immediately feel like you are part of something bigger,” Doninger says. “Friends are made and cultivated. Annual reunions are organized.”

The 10th year of the event seemed like the perfect time to take what they created and share it with more people choosing Louisville as the first PopCon outside of Indianapolis.

PopCon Louisville is June 16-18 at the Kentucky Exposition Center. After 10 years of successfully providing PopCon attendees an unforgettable experience, both owners agreed it was time to expand.

What made Louisville the first choice? It was time Doninger says to bring  “a breath of new life to a major market that has been without a pop culture event for too long.”

While the term ‘comic con’ is something you’ve most likely heard, PopCon is not just a comic convention. You will certainly find comic books and people in cosplay. That is part of the fun but you’ll also find a fully immersive world of pop culture as you walk through the door. Most importantly, Doninger says, “you’ll also find a family.”

PopCon“I love seeing the previously-oblivious parents thrilled to see their kids in their element, and then double-love when those same parents have their lightbulb moment and realize that they love PopCon too,” he adds.

As an attendee of PopCon, not only does the event promise a welcoming atmosphere but also the opportunity to try escape rooms, virtual reality, laser tag, tabletop gaming and video gaming. Attendees can meet favorite celebrities and sit in on panels where those celebrities answer questions from the audience. It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment to interact with an actor, voice actor or content creator who you enjoy and appreciate.

Celebrities that have already be announced this year include Scott Patterson, best known as Luke Danes in Gilmore Girls, Cooper Andrews from The Walking Dead and SHAZAM!, Dante Basco, best known for his role as Rufio, the leader of the Lost Boys in Steven Spielberg’s Hook and Zuko on Avatar: The Last Airbender as well as favorites from the video game, Red Dead Redemption, Rob Weithoff and Roger Clark. Voice actors from popular anime shows like My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan will also be in attendance. The convention is a favorite among anime fans.

For parents who may not know anything about the anime that their children love, it is a place for them to bond, learn and share the excitement.

Doninger says it is special when that “parent that drove more than 12 hours to bring their child to meet someone at PopCon, realizes there are 100 other parents that did the same thing.”

Keys tells us more celebrities are being added almost daily right now. Another feature unique to PopCon is its “Suggest a Celebrity” feature on the website. The convention prides itself in being “by the fans, for the fans.”

If you’ve often thought a comic con might not be “your thing” the duo invites you to come to their event where they assure you, PopCon will become “your thing.” Walk through the vendor hall full of artists and creators. Sit down and try a board game or take the young kids to the Lego display that is bigger than a basketball court.

Doninger says parents often describe PopCon as a “mini-vacation.” It’s the one place an entire family with vastly different interests can all agree to attend and all will have fun.

Taking place at the Kentucky Exposition Center, PopCon Louisville is located near plenty of great hotels and restaurants which is important to Doninger and Keys. Making the PopCon experience convenient and affordable is a priority just as much as creating the moments that PopCon attendees will cherish for a lifetime.

Also welcome to PopCon Louisville are local artists, vendors and creators. PopCon was built to have a local flavor including local artists, musicians, podcasters and creators. Keys and Doninger hope to create a similar vibe for the Louisville PopCon.

In fact, on its website PopCon recognizes the vital role creators play in making the event a success adding, “we want to help them grow their craft and share their art with fans from all over the world.”

If you are a creator, you even have the opportunity to create your own panel and submit to present your craft at PopCon. Each year, PopCon has 100s of fan panels as a part of the offerings that are free to attendees and a terrific platform for creators. Panels range from sci-fi, music, cosplay and comedy to science and mental health.

Simply put: If you’re passionate about it, you’ll find it at PopCon.PopCon

Tickets for the first annual PopCon Louisville happening June 16-18 are currently on sale on the event website with children’s admission just $10 and discount weekend passes available. Vendor space as well as content creator opportunities and sponsorships can all be found at popcon.us.

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