JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Repticon is back in the Tri-Cities this weekend with lots of animals, equipment and accessories.

The event began at the Holiday Inn on Springbrook Drive Saturday and continues Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vendor and Repticon sponsor Tristan Kaylor owns a business called Gecko Junkie. He told News Channel 11 that this event is special because attendees can interact with animals up close while learning valuable information from breeders and caretakers.

“A lot of people really like it because they can actually interact with the animals,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of zoos and things like that, and you get to see the animals in their enclosures. Whereas here, you can actually touch them, feel them.

Kaylor said the event is a great way for beginners to interact with animals like snakes, turtles and lizards in a safe environment with trained handlers.

“You get to talk to the breeders that have a little more information and can educate you on how to take care of them. So, that’s really the main thing that we focus on is educating the youth.”

Those interested in reptiles as pets shouldn’t be afraid if they’re inexperienced, Kaylor said, as the animals are more forgiving than their reputation makes them out to be.

“Even if you’re afraid of the animals, come out and get the opportunity to interact with them,” he said. “You have a lot of people here that can get you hands-on with the animals and show you that they’re really not as mean or aggressive as most people think they are.”

Ticket prices range from $5 to $15, and according to Repticon’s website, all veterans, first responders and teachers with valid IDs can get in for free.

Tickets are only available for purchase online and are nonrefundable.