The return of Rob-Con: Pop culture convention returns to Kingsport this weekend

Local

You might just run into Thor, a Ghostbuster or Batman himself this weekend.

The Tri-Cities’ longest-running pop culture convention returns this weekend, bringing enthusiasts of all things nerd together for its 34th year.

This will be Rob-Con’s second year in Kingsport – organizer Robert Pilk said the growing interest in popular culture over the past decade has driven more people to the convention, prompting the move from Viking Hall, the convention’s home for five years, to Kingsport’s Meadowview Convention Center last year.

“We’ve got media guests, we’ve got the guy who played Eddie Munster in the Munster in the old TV show, we’ve got Captain Marvel from the old TV show, we’ve got lots of comic book guests, the guys who’ve drawn Spider-Man and the Punisher and Conan,” Pilk said. “There’s going to be a lot of panels, question and answer panels with our guests and our writers and our artists, so that’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Pilk opened Mountain Empire Comics in Bristol 35 years ago and launched the convention a year later to provide a space for comic book lovers to meet up and browse comic book collections.

That meetup has grown in the past 35 years, and Rob-Con has expanded to include other facets of popular culture. This year, guests like Butch Patrick, known for his role of Eddie Munster, and voice actor Carey Means, known for his work as Frylock on the Adult Swim show Aqua Teen Hunger Force, will host question-and-answer panels with fans.

He said a costume contest draws a big crowd every year, and each year brings more elaborate and detailed costumes than the year before.

While Pilk said he’s pleased that the convention and interest in popular culture is growing, it’s also come as a bit of a surprise over the past ten years.

“I think because of all the movies, the superhero movies, and TV shows and video games and it’s a lot cooler to be a nerd now than it used to be,” he said with a laugh.

Rob-Con kicks off on Saturday at the Meadowview Convention Center, 1901 Meadowview Parkway, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and continues through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 for the weekend, or single-day admission is available for $15 on Saturday and $10 on Sunday.

A full list of guests and activities is available at robcon.org.

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