"Chewie, we're home," is what all science-fiction, anime and comic book geeks will be saying when they arrive at the eighth Lexington Comic and Toy Con on this weekend.

The first ever comic con was held in 1964 in New York City, but the one taking place in Lexington on March 21-24 started March 24, 2012. Over the course of time, the event has grown into what it is today. Jarrod and Jaime Greer started the all things geeky fest on a whim, according to Jarrod.

Both of the Greers and one other person are the only full-time employees with plenty of friends and family who help out. The organization relies on volunteers to help out during the con days. Greer said they typically have anywhere between 80 to 100 volunteers.

The event has continued to grow to new heights over the eight years, including the space it occupies. Last year, 33,000 people attended LCTC, making it one of the biggest conventions that comes to the Lexington Convention Center. The year prior, 2017, saw 25,000 in attendance, a 32 percent increase, showing that the con is growing not only in numbers, but in interest.

"We are always adding new elements, trying to grow the footprint, attendance and overall scope of the event," Greer said.

By not being backed by corporate dollars to bring in the big names, Greer and his crew work to bring the best celebrities they can to LCTC. This year, big names like Dog, Beth and Leland Chapman from Dog the Bounty Hunter, Val Kilmer and Billie Piper make up the list of more than 50 celebrity guests who will be in attendance.

"Everything is a process and a waiting game. You make offers and wait for answers. Some come through, some never do," Greer said. "It can be gratifying and heartbreaking both."

Autograph prices and photo-op times for celebrities can be found online. Photo-ops are different than meeting the guest at their booth on the con floor. The majority of celebrity guests will take photos with attendees and sign autographs at their booth for a price, but attendees can also purchase a ticket for a photo-op. A photo-op is not a meet and greet.

In addition to celebrity guests, LCTC also brings in comic creators and exhibitors.

But LCTC isn't just about getting autographs, there are also Q&A panels, workshops, cosplay contests, board gaming, video gaming, comedy shows and more. One of the most noticeable things about LCTC is the costumed-up attendees known as cosplayers. The event holds a costume contest on Saturday, where participants can enter into three different categories based on the participants skill level and craftsmanship.

"It is a shopping experience, a social experience, and a celebrity experience," Greer said. "It's a place where you can come and get together with like minded folks and let your geek flag fly."

Greer offers some advice for LCTC attendees, whether it is their first time or eighth.

"Make a schedule before you come, don't be discouraged by lines and stay hydrated," Greer said.

LCTC begins on Thursday, March 21 from 6-10 p.m. for 'All About Comics' preview night. Tickets are $30 per person and kids under 10 get in free for the day. Guests will have access to the con floor and all of its activities. Few, if any, celebrities, will be on site for Thursday but Greer said they are trying to get as much of the comic talent and vendors there for Thursday so attendees can come in and dig through boxes or get that sketch commission without having to fight the massive crowds that will arrive later in the weekend.

The geek-fest closes out on Sunday, starting at 10 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. Patrons can find parking around the convention center but most of it is paid only, so Greer said to expect to pay at least $10.

Tickets can be bought the day of the event at the convention center or online at https://purchase.growtix.com/eh/Lexington_Comic_Toy_Convention_2019. Saturday only tickets often sell out as well, Greer mentioned, and Friday and Sunday are often the less crowded days if patrons want to try and avoid the large crowds. For more information about LCTC, visit http://lexingtoncomiccon.com/index.html.

Reach Kaitlyn Brooks at 624-6608; follow her on Twitter @kaitlynsbrooks.

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