Annual Vette City Con brings family-friendly fun to Bowling Green

Paul Doyal, 42, of Owensboro, Ky. has been attending comic cons since he was 17-years-old but has been cosplaying for the last seven years. This is Doyal’s first time at the Vette City Comic Con where he is cosplaying at a Gringotts Goblin, a character from Harry Potter. “You get all kinds of different tastes of people where everyone can come together over some mutual ground,” said Doyal. “It’s like you’re nerdy and I’m nerdy and nerdy’s not a bad thing to be anymore. The nerds have won.”

Taylor Metcalf

90s punk music, Darth Vader and bobbleheads.

Each of these could be tied to a single room in the National Corvette Museum—a room filled with booths covered in odds and ends, hand-crafted or bought from venders. 

On Friday and Saturday, the National Corvette Museum hosted its third annual “Vette City Con,” a convention dedicated to pop culture, horror and science fiction. 

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“It’s family-friendly and good, clean fun,” said Chad Sheppard, one of the event organizers. “It’s got an intimate setting where you can actually have conversations.”

The small venue not only held adults and teenagers, but also small children excited to look at the horror movie masks and cosplay accessories. A small boy in an “Iron Man” costume gravitated toward a man in full Darth Vader attire, wanting to hear the heavy breaths coming out of the large, black mask. 

Coordinators of the event said that 1,000 to 1,200 people attended the past two years, and their hopes for this year were even higher.

The event itself is popular among cosplayers, both veteran and new to the scene. A cash prize of $750 for the best adult costume and $250 for the best child costume led many cosplayers to buy or make their own outfits to impress judges.

Charlie Atkinson, 13, and his sister, Rachel Atkinson, 19, attended the con after hearing good things from a friend.

“He’s coming to be in the cosplay contest tomorrow with his friend, and I like conventions,” Rachel Atkinson said. “It’s a fun atmosphere.”

Another perk of Vette City Con was the special guests that attended to sign autographs and meet their beloved fans. Some of these celebrity guests included Tyler Mane from “Halloween” and “X-Men,” Dustin Diamond who played Screech in “Saved by the Bell,” and many other favorites. 

Among the others was Scout Compton, an American actress best known for her roles as Laurie Strode in “Halloween” and Clara Forester in “Gilmore Girls.” After being contacted by event promoters, Compton made her way to Bowling Green to meet and chat with her fans.

“This one seems a little smaller, which is kind of nice because we’ll be able to talk to the people longer and engage with them,” Compton said. “This feels more personable and I’ve been seeing a lot of kids, so it seems more family-driven which I love. I’m such a big family person.” 

Before the special guests or attendees even arrive, there are hidden heroes that make up the foundation of the convention—the vendors.

Dozens of unique booths were stationed from wall to wall, filling up the inside of the room perfectly. The items being sold ranged from Pokémon cards to “POP!” figures and bobbleheads, hand-crafted sculptures and artwork to Legos and cosplay wigs. Not one booth was the same as another and neither were the people manning them. 

Some of the vendors had attended previous years of Vette City Con, while some were experiencing it for the first time this year. One booth new to the con was “Fairytale Fare” run by Victoria Reading and her mom, Kathleen Reading. The booth was filled with ornate jewelry and accessories, all hand-made by Victoria. The jewelry was displayed on upcycled furniture and hand-crafted displays shaped like coffins.

Paul Doyal, who cosplayed as a Gringotts goblin from “Harry Potter,” said he was especially happy to see young children at the convention, dressed up as their favorite characters. 

“It makes me so happy because they’re getting confidence and expressing themselves, and I think that’s gonna make a healthy, well-rounded person when they get older,” Doyal said.

Features reporter Taylor Metcalf can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]