If you happen to see Batman or Spider Man in either duplicate — or even triplicate — in Athens on April 9, your eyes aren’t deceiving you.
They will be among many other DC and Marvel comic costumes attendees will be wearing to the 10th anniversary Ratha Con convention.
Following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Ratha Con, the city’s only pop culture convention, is returning to the Athens Community Center from 10 am to 7 pm.
Alyse Carter Schultz, event coordinator for the event, is excited to resurrect Ratha Con and promises a fun time for all.
“There were 600 people at our last Ratha Con in 2019. I’m not expecting that many this year, but hopefully we will have that many this year,” she said, adding that because of the pandemic many may still be a tad trepidatious about attending a convention.
Still, she is hopeful that after two years of so many restrictions throughout the city, perhaps, that will actually increase the number of attendees.
To that end, Carter Schultz said that there will be a few less vendors than in previous years and events will be housed in the bigger conference rooms at the Center, as opposed to the smaller ones.
“Overall, it’s not too much different,” she said, noting that masks are encouraged, but not mandatory.
“We want to make it an event that people feel comfortable with,” she said.
The origins to Athens’ Ratha Con go back 12 years when original president, Kelly Lawrence, attended a convention in Columbus and loved it.
“It was literally done out of love and after seeing the convention in Columbus, (Lawrence) said, let’s do it,” Carter Schultz said.
The convention will actually have a little bit of something for everyone. Ratha Con celebrates pop culture in many forms, including comics, crafts, authors, music, film costumes and gamers
Over 50 artists, authors, vendors and crafters will have their arts and wares on display on the convention floor.
Those attending will be able to shop for everything from rare comic books and collectibles to crocheted Pokemon and geeky jewelry.
“You will really see some phenomenal costumes. For being such a small convention, there are a lot of great costumes,” she said. “And there will be plenty of cool photo ops.”
Special guests to the event will include DC and Marvel comics artist Sandy Plunkett, who is from Athens and has been involved in projects for characters such as Batman, Spider Man, Scarlet Witch and the Defenders.
There will also be appearances by the Southeast Ohio Ghostbusters, a local steampunk group, Airship Athena, and the 501st costuming groups.
Activities include panels, workshops, performances and the popular cosplay contest, with three competition levels and a special contest for children.
The gaming room will be sponsored this year by the Ohio University GRID lab. It will include game demos, virtual reality, game tournaments and tabletop gaming.
A-Town Pies and Fries and Athenian Wrapsody food trucks will be stationed outside the convention, Carter Schultz said.
Despite the two-year hiatus since the last Ratha Con, Carter Schultz said that this convention has actually been almost easier to plan because there were artists booked for 2020 who were already in place and had agreed to wait until the green light was given on this event.
“It seems like everyone is excited about the event. For me, I go to conventions all the time — or used to. Our convention is really fun because it’s small and friendly,” she said, adding that there is plenty of time to chat with the artists and vendors.
This is Carter Schultz’ first year of being in charge of the convention. She previously served as vice president and outreach coordinator for the past several years. She noted that Lawrence is still on the planning committee for the upcoming event.
Admission to the event is $10 for adults and $7 for children, ages 11-17. Children under 11 are admitted for free with a paid adult. College students with a valid ID will be charged $8. A limited number of VIP tickets will be available on a first come, first served basis. Those special tickets would include convention swag.
For more information, go to the event’s website, www.therathacon.com on Facebook and Instagram or @rathacon on Twitter.
This year’s event is sponsored by Warp Speed Printing, Fiocchi Sword, Chosen Pathways Spiritual Emporium and Athens Community Arts, Parks and Recreation.
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