Utah’s Pop Culture Convention, like most comic conventions, features celebrity guests, panels and an exhibitor hall.
But what makes Pop Culture Convention, also known as Pop Con, stand out is its sense of size and intimacy, according to founder and CEO Jordan Turner.
“As we’re a smaller event, we can focus a little bit better on certain aspects,” Turner told the Daily Herald in a recent phone interview.
“After every event, we send out a survey to all of our attendees,” Turner said. “We ask them, ‘How did we do and how can we improve?’ and I read every single one that comes through, and I do my best to incorporate that feedback into the following event.”
Turner said guests enjoy the smaller size of the event, especially those who might have some type of social anxiety or crowd anxiety.
“We don’t have the thousands upon thousands of people that a larger event has, so you’re not going to get lost in the crowd, and there’s a little bit more of a chance that you have time to talk with an exhibitor, to talk with someone who just presented a panel on a touching subject,” Turner said.
The convention is also unique for its Utah Valley-based location, according to Turner.
“That’s kind of our goal for the continuing years is to stay here, so we can cater to those individuals who aren’t able to travel to Salt Lake for any events,” Turner said. “As far as I know, we are the only comic convention or comic-like convention in the county.”
Pop Culture Convention, formerly Cedar City Pop Culture Convention until 2016, was created to give Utah Valley residents and others a chance to attend a comic convention, according to its website.
“We’re actually bigger this year than we were last year,” Turner said of the event’s growth. “We’ve been able to grow every year since year one, which is amazing.”
Turner said the title Pop Culture Convention allows the event to cover a wide variety of subjects.
“We’re not limited to certain genres and certain things (as) if we were just a comic convention,” Turner said.
This year’s annual convention will take place at the Utah Valley Convention Center and host celebrity guests including Bill Blair, who has appeared on shows like “Star Trek” and “Babylon 5” and holds the Guinness World Record for the most special effect make-up characters portrayed in a career at 202.
“I feel pretty lucky to be able to get them, especially Bill, since he’s a Guinness World Record holder,” Turner said. “We’ve never had such a guest in our events, and I don’t even know if some other local events can have such an acclaim.”
The 2019 event will feature two panel rooms with 11 panels to choose from, ranging in topic from “Sometimes the Movie is Better” to “Cosplay as a Cure.”
“We have the Salt Lake Green Arrow, who’s a local cosplayer, and he’s going to talk about his experience,” Turner said. “I believe that cosplay helped him to get to where he is now, and he talks about this all the time, but he’s a gentleman that used to weigh a lot of weight and now he doesn’t, and so it’s about his experience in that.”
“Our judges this year are Renegade Cosplay, one of the Rebel Girl Cosplays and then … Missy Moody,” Turner said.
In the future, Turner hopes to expand Pop Culture Convention to become a multi-day and perhaps biannual event.
“I really hope that our attendees can feel safe and comfortable at our event and that they’re willing to come back for more events,” Turner said. “I hope that they have fun, that it’s enjoyable and they can remember it for years to come.”