Travelling hours to get to a convention can be difficult, even more so when paired with pricey hotel rooms and tickets that can range up to $60 a day.

However, pop culture fans need not look any further.

Athens’ very own Ratha Con will be returning for its sixth year at the Athens Community Center on Saturday. Along with its usual line-up of guest speakers, the pop culture convention will also have series of workshops on cosplaying and on how to begin a career in comic books.

If you go

What: Film Screenings: “The Assassin’s Apprentice” and “Occupants”

When: 7 p.m., Thursday

Where: The Athena Cinema, 20 S. Court St

Admission: $5, $3 for students with ID

What: Pop Culture Art Exhibit

When: 5 p.m., Friday

Where: ARTS/WEST, 132 W. State St.

Admission: Free

What: Tales From The Flip Side

When: 7 p.m., Friday

Where: ARTS/WEST, 132 W. State St.

Admission: $10 for single admission, $20 for family admission

What: Ratha Con

When: 10 a.m., Saturday

Where: Athens Community Center, 701 E. State St.

Admission: $10 for adults, $5 for ages 12-17, Free admission for children under 12

Ratha Con began in 2012 and was co-founded by ARTS/WEST events coordinator Kelly Lawrence together with former ARTS/WEST project specialist Emily Prince.

“She and I came up with the idea together because we’re both geeky nerds,” Lawrence, the project director of Ratha Con, said. “(We) thought it would be a lot of fun for Athens to have its own pop culture convention.”

Although it was originally a comic book convention, the focus has expanded over the years as there were “so many things that people are interested in other than just comics,” Lawrence said. “It’s family friendly, a lot of people bring their kids and the kids have so much fun.”

Leading up to the convention, there will be a screening of Occupants and a special preview of The Assassin’s Apprentice at The Athena Cinema, followed by a Q&A session with director Russ Emmanuel on Thursday.

There will also be a pop culture art exhibit at ARTS/WEST on Friday, followed by a performance of “Tales From the Flip Side,” a time-traveling music and magic live show by entertainer John Pyka, who will be performing as Big Daddy Cool.

On Saturday, event attendees can look forward to cosplay contests, a Magic the Gathering Tournament and a Quidditch Tournament, among other activities that will take place. There will also be a special guest panel on how to begin a career in comic books led by comic book artists Craig Boldman, Jason Lewis and James Patrick.

Haley Black, a senior studying vocal music, said she is looking forward to the annual Quidditch tournament.

Although there were only 10 players during the first year the tournament was held, the number expanded to include over 30 participants the following year, Black, who is also the advisor to Ohio University’s Quidditch club, said.

“I’m really excited about the kids and I’m also a huge nerd so I like walking around to the different booths,” Black said.

Though Tyann Carter has experience attending larger conventions such as Colossalcon in Sandusky, she said she likes Ratha Con because of how different it is from the typical convention and how accessible it is.

“Having one down the street … it’s very convenient. You can still stay in your house and meet all your friends,” Carter, a senior studying mechanical engineering, said. “At larger conventions you only know the people you came with (but) here, you know everyone because they’re your neighbors.”

For individuals who don’t normally spend a lot of time with other people, pop culture can be a way for them to connect with other fans, Lawrence said.

“People who normally don’t usually spend a lot of time with other people … they feel comfortable with our crowd,” Lawrence said. “They’ll wear a costume and go in the midst of everybody and feel right at home, and I think that’s wonderful you know because they don’t feel like they fit anywhere else but they fit with this crew.”

One of the cosplay workshops this year also aims to help individuals with fears and social anxiety connect with others through the hobby.

“We’re accepting of everybody and we don’t care what you look like,” Lawrence said. “We just want to have fun and talk to you about Star Wars, Star Trek or Doctor Who.”


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