OMG!con, the anime, cosplay and gaming convention, will return to Owensboro in full force this weekend starting today through Sunday at the Owensboro Convention Center.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity started out originally on a smaller scale in Paducah in 2006 before moving the event to the city in 2014 in order to “better serve attendees and provide the fun, accepting atmosphere to more people by moving out of Paducah and to Owensboro,” while also creating more activities to entice fans from the area and beyond the commonwealth.
The convention, which is typically held in June, was canceled altogether in 2020 while the 2021 event was rescheduled to October for two days due to health and safety concerns in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.
The event was scaled back compared to their usual fare with about 500 people in attendance versus the average number of about 4,000.
However, things seemed to be getting back into its regular routine.
“This will be full-scale; we are back in action about as big and bad as you can get for our size of an event,” said John Bowen, OMG!con’s vice president. “I’m definitely very excited for it to be returning to our normal in-person event after two years of being away from it. You tend to miss it.”
While the pandemic stalled many events, including OMG!con, Bowen said the time allowed them to “shake the rust off” and that October’s event was a way for them to “get their feet wet again” and “return to form.”
“With that event, we were able to more or less stretch our legs and get an understanding for how things have changed, how things have stayed the same and provide us with a good understanding of how to move forward with the main event,” he said.
Bowen said the pre registration numbers for this weekend are “about what we have expected in previous years” but has seen an upheaval in interaction online within the last month or so.
“The amount of questions and interactions that we have been getting across social media and emails have been more than what I was expecting honestly,” he said. “I’m expecting our attendance to return to pretty much what it was when we last saw each other in 2019; if not, a little bit more.”
Bowen said much of the programming that attendees are normally used to will be returning while the event will see an increase in exhibitors, along with expanding the tabletop gaming space.
Arcade and video gaming and cosplay events are also on the docket to continue.
This year’s guests are to include voice actors Greg Ayres and Michael Sinterniklaas, Xander Mobus and Dawn M. Bennett; YouTuber and “retro gaming enthusiast” Nintendrew; and Robert DeJesus and Emily DeJesus of the independent art studio Studio Capsule.
The event will also feature musical guest Callon B, owner and founder of the hip hop brand Got Your Back Entertainment along with cosplay guests Fighting Dreamers Production and additional cosplay guest Zackary.
For Bowen, OMG!con feels that it’s a place for all types of crowds to enjoy.
“We pride ourselves on being a family-friendly event that has just a little bit of something for everyone,” he said. “Whether it is you want to be in a massive video game room, or play board games, or meet the voice actors behind your favorite anime, or participate in these fan panels that other people put on, or if you want to come and get to see friends that you don’t get to see very often; that’s what we’re here for. We’re here to provide that kind of safe space for our community and allow them to express themselves in ways that they may not be able to do all-year round.”
Per OMG!con’s website, all attendees over the age of 3 are to wear an approved mask or facial covering while indoors at the convention center.
Approved masks include a cloth mask or gaiter made of two or more layers of fabric, surgical style disposable mask and N95 or KN95 masks.
Masks can be removed when eating at the tables in the convention center lobby and removed for pictures as long as everyone involved in the photo agrees and are able to maintain a distance of at least six feet from other attendees.
For more information regarding the mask policy, visit omgcon.com/maskpolicy.