Art center to host 4th Toy and Comic Expo
By Wayne Towner
Special to the Times
Now in its fourth year, the annual Classic Plastics Toy and Comic Expo at the Parkersburg Art Center is growing into a two-day event in downtown Parkersburg.
The expo will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the art center at 725 Market St. in Parkersburg. Admission is $5 at the door or $8 for a two-day pass with children 10 and under admitted free.
There will be vendors, exhibitors and fans gathered for shared interests in toys, books, comics, movies and television.
The event began four years ago at South Parkersburg Baptist Church and moved to the art center two years ago, beginning just in the balllroom but expanding last year to include the entire art center, from the ballroom on the top floor down to the children’s activity center in the basement.
Tony Workman, co-organizer of the expo, said the event is a fundraiser, with half of the proceeds benefiting the art center. For last year’s event, the other half of the proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross while this year’s those funds will go to support Downtown PKB, he said.
The goal for the future is to always have half of the proceeds help the art center, but organizers are still deciding whether to alternate between the Red Cross and Downtown PKB in the future or continue to expand that support to other groups or organizations, Workman said.
This year’s expo will feature two special guests, actor Steve Cardenas and creature designer Tim Clarke.
Cardenas starred as Rocky DeSantos, the second Red Ranger in “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” and later as the Blue Ranger in “Power Rangers Zeo.” Clarke worked for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop on “Fraggle Rock” and the film “The Dark Crystal” and later went on to co-create the Boglins and Sectaurs toy lines.
Workman said the expo will also feature a variety of vendors, artists, a cosplay contest, a videogame tournament, tabletop board gaming, Pokemon Go and other activities. The event is family friendly, he said.
Workman said the change from a one- to two-day event is the biggest change people will see with this year’s expo.
“Last year it was so packed with people that they couldn’t move around very much. We wanted to help spread that out a little bit,” he said.
Despite some initial hesitation among some vendors that the second day might not draw as many people, Workman said the recent feedback he is receiving has been positive in terms of holding a two-day event.
The number of vendors will be down slightly this year, after the art center converted its Esbenshade Gallery into the Esbenshade Studio. Workman said the room, which is now a classroom, will be used for activities and dining this year instead of as sales space.
In one of this year’s new activities, the Vienna Public Library will be hosting events on Sunday in the Esbenshade Studio for people of all ages. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the library will be having story times, LEGO builds and comic book crafting, which will involve using old comic books to make bookmarks, jewelry, decorations and more.
Also going on Saturday, Downtown PKB will be holding its Savor Saturday event in conjunction with the expo. Several restaurants — including vendors at the Point Park Marketplace — will be offering food samples for $1 each.
Wendy Shriver, director of Downtown PKB, said organizers were thrilled last year, with more than 200 people visiting downtown restaurants during the expo to have lunch or to try the food samples. Once again this year, anyone buying the food samples will be entered into a drawing for dinner for two at any downtown restaurant and two tickets to the annual Taste of Parkersburg, Shriver said.
“We’re hoping to double our attendance this year,” she said.
The participating restaurants include: Parkersburg Brewing Co., Crystal Cafe, Marilyn’s Corner Cafe at Matheny Motors, Village Cakery LLC, Timely Brew Cafe, Toscano in Appalachia, The Coffee Bar, DownTown Specialty Bakery, Breads & Beyond Bakery, Starbucks at The Blennerhassett Hotel, Daily Grind and Maka Mia Pizza.