Corvette Museum hosts first-annual pop culture event


Elisabeth Moore

Pop music blared from the National Corvette Museum as Disney Princesses and Star Wars Clone Troopers gathered around for the same cause. Intermingled with people sporting everyday clothing, cosplayers and regular attendees lined up early on Jan. 28 to enter the first annual Vette City Con.

Located directly across from the Corvette Gift Shop, a large room was filled to the brim with vendors, celebrities and a projector showing films such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Despite the crowded nature of the showroom, convention-goers seemed to easily make their way to any celebrity or vendor that interested them.

The Vette City Con was created by two agents at a booking agency based out of Bowling Green called NahPro Entertainment and was scheduled for Jan. 28 and 29. Chad Sheppard, a senior agent, and Michael Etherton, a southeast agent, said they have been working on the Vette City Con for almost six months.

“To give you a little back story, me and my business partner both like comics and Comic-Con-style events,” Sheppard said. “We both are fans of those events and we have been all over the country and even into Canada to see some and we just wanted to do some ourselves to test the market and to see what kind of response we would get in Bowling Green.”

Sheppard and Etherton chose the National Corvette Museum for their convention because of its popularity. Due to it’s location off of the highway and the recognizable name that the Corvette Museum has throughout Bowling Green, Sheppard said it seemed to be the best spot to hold their first convention.

“The Corvette Museum has bent over backwards to help us with everything that we have asked,” Etherton said. “They have been nothing but a pleasure to work with and I can’t thank those guys enough for allowing us to do this.”

Throughout the convention, there was a total of 52 various vendors and celebrities that attended. This included actors and stuntmen like Deep Roy and John Dugan, to more localized groups like the Western Kentucky Ghostbusters and the Southern Kentucky Technical Community College.

Celebrities were stationed toward the back of the vendor hall where attendees could get autographs and photos. The rest of the floor was shared by vendors selling their wares, models showing off their cosplay outfits and local groups trying to gain more traction. One group that was located near the front was the Vette City Roller Derby team.

The Vette City Roller Derby team is a group of women that do competitive roller derby. As a local team, they were asked to set up a booth at the convention to sell shirts, memorabilia and to spread the word about their team.

“It’s very surprising,” said Summer Polson, a skater for the Vette City Roller Derby. “We try to do as many things as we can in the public with as many different groups as possible because every time we go somewhere, there are people that still don’t know that we are here. We have gotten so many followers on Facebook and Instagram just because of this. It has been great for networking.”

Outside of visiting the vendors and celebrities, a cosplay contest was created for the first day of the convention. Led by the Bride of Frankenstein as the hostess, cosplayers had the chance to strut their costumes for prizes that would be given out by the three judges.

Once the cosplay contest began, there were a total of 25 contestants that ranged from various Star Wars characters to an over-sized Count Chocula, the mascot for a popular chocolate cereal. The contest was separated into two categories: children and adults. Each contestant could win honorable mention, the celebrity pick chosen by the Bride of Frankenstein, second runner-up, first runner-up or first place in their respective category.

In the children category of the contest, the first runner-up was a female version of Grell Sutcliff, a character from the anime Black Butler. The winner of this category was Left Shark from the famous Katy Perry Super Bowl halftime show. Both winners were given gift cards and free swag from a few of the vendors attending the convention.

In the adult category, the second runner-up was the man dressed as Count Chocula, who created his nearly seven-foot costume by hand. The first runner-ups were two girls who did a Game of Thrones cosplay together, one dressed as Daenerys Targaryen and the other dressed as Cersei Lannister, who each hand-sewn their dresses for the cosplay.

The winner for the adult category was a woman dressed as Shaak Ti, a Jedi from Star Wars. This cosplay included a hand-made headdress made out of clay and latex, a personalized belt that was hand-carved and a dress that was hand-sewn.

The honorable mentions for the overall competition were Rey and Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars and a post-apocalyptic Batman and Catwoman couple. The celebrity pick was Ursula, who made her costume completely by hand, which included tentacles and the necklace used to take Ariel’s voice in “The Little Mermaid.”

“I want everybody to be able to come to this convention,” Etherton said. “I want to have a little something for everybody. If they want to come out and cosplay, then we wish them all the best and may they win the contest.”

Looking into the future, Sheppard and Etherton said that they would like to host more conventions. The Vette City Con was created as a test convention to see if Bowling Green has the market for future conventions in this area.

“When people do this type of convention, in the first several years, you do lose some,” Sheppard said. “You have to build it up. We went into this knowing that we would probably lose some money and we were okay with that. But we hope to get a good reception so we can keep doing them and build this up to do something huge in the future.”

Reporter Elisabeth Moore can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @emoore938.