By JONAH LOSSIAH
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Starting Friday, Aug. 23, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will be hosting its first Cherokee Legends Comicon at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds.
It is a three-day event and will feature numerous guest speakers, vendors, music and a cosplay contest. The EBCI’s Destination Marketing team has put together the Comicon in hopes of offering a new wave of entertainment to Cherokee.
“It’s not really a one-off, we’re hoping that we can build from this,” said Cameron Cooper, EBCI retail development specialist. “So, the whole goal of this was, ‘let’s do this the best that we can and get some good numbers to build on, so we have measurables and hit it again next year.”
The Comicon will also have three featured guests: Robbie Rist, Travis Walton, and Papa Stro Maestro.
Rist is known for voicing Michelangelo in the first three Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies and has 149 acting credits according to IMDB (Internet Movie Database).
Walton wrote the book “Fire In The Sky,” which depicts his experience of a UFO abduction. He then went on to be a screenwriter for the 1993 movie adaptation of the book.
Papa Stro Maestro, who was born Robert Kellum, started his professional wrestling career in 1990. He is most known for his appearances with World Championship Wrestling as The Maestro.
Cooper says that they are using this year to gauge interest but have hopes to continue the event annually and expand it each year.
“We kind of went smaller. We didn’t want to go huge and then kind of not get the people flowing in for it,” said Cooper.
John Stamey, an author who says he has run around 35 different events, was the one who initially sparked the idea of a Cherokee Comicon.
“It just felt like the right place to put in the bid,” said Stamey.
Stamey says through his experiences; he knows what it takes to run a successful comic-con. Though he can’t guarantee anything for this first year, he’s excited about the potential of the Cherokee Comicon.
“Gigantic. That’s the word to describe it. I’ve been up here for two days; I think everybody I’ve talked to knows about this thing. I think this is a good area because there’s nothing really like it. There’s the Asheville Comicon, there’s some stuff in Knoxville, there’s Yama-Con over in Pigeon Forge, but there’s nothing like what we’re going to do.”
Stamey runs multiple events each year. Along with different comic-cons, he also runs the Georgia Bigfoot Conference, the Tennessee Bigfoot Conference, and the South Carolina Lizardman Festival.
Stamey started his path in running comic-cons about six years ago with the Cape Fear Comic Con. In its first year, he says the event had 800 people and 50 Vendors.
That is around the mark for Cherokee’s first year, according to EBCI Director of Communications Chris McCoy. He said he is hoping for somewhere between 500 to 1,000 attendees over the three days next weekend.
It is a joint venture between Stamey and EBCI Destination Marketing, and the two parties will equally split the door revenue. McCoy says that the Tribe has put in an estimated $7,500 into the event.
Day pass tickets for adults are $5, and there are two individually ticketed events: A VIP session on Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. and ‘Big Foot University’ from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The course will bring in Big Foot experts for discussions, as well as learning to track in the woods and other skills.
Kids under 12 will have free admittance to the event, as well as any student who comes dressed in full costume.
It will be open 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
For full information on the Cherokee Legends Comicon, visit https://cherokeecomicon.com.