April 18, 2014

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Comic Con FanX Kicks Off at the Salt Palace

By Devin Felix

April 18, 2014

Just seven months after the first Salt Lake Comic Con broke attendance records and defied most everyone's expectations, the Salt Palace is filled again with fans of all things geek. Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience began at the Salt Palace Thursday. The convention will feature dozens of celebrity guests, hundreds of vendors and artists and promises to have tens of thousands of attendees.

FanX is the follow-up to the hugely successful Salt Lake Comic Con that took place last September, set a new North American record for the highest attendance at a first-year comic con and was the third largest comic con in 2013. With between 70,000 and 80,000 attendees, it was the biggest convention ever held at the Salt Palace.

At a press conference that preceded the event Thursday, Gov. Gary Herbert read from a declaration designating April 17, 2014 as “Salt Lake Comic Con Hero’s Day.” Herbert was joined on stage by a group of law enforcement and military personnel, whom he described as real-life heroes. Herbert said events like Comic Con are an economic boon to Utah and Salt Lake City. Estimates are that at least 8,000 people will come from out of state for the convention and spend their money here, he said.

“I’m happy to help do anything that puts Utah in a good light and promotes our tourism and travel,” Herbert said. “When Utah is highlighted it’s a good thing on many levels. And it’s just kind of fun. It’s fun to see these people who are bigger than life on TV and in the movies and see them in real life.”

Among the celebrities in attendance will be "Star Trek" captains William Shatner and Patrick Stewart, Nathan Fillion of "Firefly" and "Castle," Billy Dee Williams from the original "Star Wars" movies and Karl Urban from the recent "Star Trek" films. More than 30 other actors from TV shows and film will also attend, as well as dozens of authors and comic book artists. FanX will also include KidCon, a series of events and guests aimed specifically at children, and a program featuring five cast members of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Comic Con organizer Dan Farr said he expects FanX to draw at least as many visitors as last year’s event, and possibly even as many as 100,000. In anticipation of huge numbers, FanX will take place throughout the entire Salt Palace. Last year’s event only used part of the space, and the unexpectedly large turnout led to crowding and an eventual declaration by the fire marshal no one else could be let into the building.

Organizers are planning another Salt Lake Comic Con for next September.

Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience will continue today and Saturday.

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