DES MOINES, Iowa — A super convention took over Hy-Vee Hall during the weekend, which allowed Iowans to experience a type of event they usually have to cross state lines to attend.
The inaugural Des Moines Con attracted thousands of attendees to the Iowa Events Center. The showcase featured comic books, anime, video games, and many other different aspects of pop culture.
“It’s been so much fun and so gratifying to come out,” said Des Moines Con organizer Ben Penrod. “Cons are back, and I’m hyped.”
Penrod runs different comic conventions across the country, and he said a friend of his convinced him to give Iowa a try.
“I was looking for new cities to go to because I’m trying to stay busy,” Penrod said. “I think a lot of people did overlook Des Moines and thought, ‘maybe we’ll go to another city.’ I disagree. It’s a no-brainer to come, considering nobody has run anything like this here in four years.”
The event allowed local creatives to express themselves, either through artwork or through costumes.
13-year-old Emily Logan of Ankeny decided to come to the convention wearing her own creation: a character with a television for a head.
“My TV head is one of my original designs and one of my first cosplays that I’ve ever put together,” Logan said. “We had so many people come up to us and ask for photos.”
Logan came to the convention with her older brother Nick, 14, and her friend Allison Withrow, 12. All of them said it was their first comic convention ever, and were overjoyed they did not have to travel far to experience it.
“I hope this shows that it’s not just corn people in Iowa, there’s a lot of other people you can make friends with,” Emily Logan said. “We’ve made friends here, there’s a lot of people that have such creative ways.”
Carroll-based graphic artist Randy Siplon set up a booth of his work inside the Des Moines Con. Siplon said he regularly travels to other cons across the Midwest with his exhibition, but cherishes the chance to stay home with his work.
“It’s great,” Siplon said. “It brings us all together, we enjoy the same things, and it’s a good sense of community.”
Penrod said he has committed to bring the Des Moines Con back to Hy-Vee Hall next year.