PIGEON FORGE - Surrounded by an abundance of celebrity guests, regular folks dressed as superheroes and dealers peddling everything from horror DVDs to action figures, college student Cody Furrell came to Adventure Con on Friday looking for a connection.
"I like to go around and meet people who like the same things I do," said the 20-year-old from Rogersville, Tenn.
Furrell is a fan of Doctor Who and doesn't have many friends in East Tennessee who share his interest. "It's kind of a niche group," he said. Being fan of Doctor Who means "you're in a small group of people."
However, Furrell wasn't alone in his pursuit of a community. On Friday, the first day the convention opened, hundreds packed the Grand Hotel Resort and Convention Center. They came with items to be autographed and a checklist of things to buy - from comic books to figurines.
This is the first summer edition of Adventure Con not held at the Knoxville Convention Center. Organizer Adam Phelps had said previously Pigeon Forge gave him more incentives to bring his convention to town.
Bill Randall, who accompanied Furrell to the pop-culture and fantasy show, had an eye more for the celebrities who were there charging for photos and autographs. He got to meet the No. 1 star on his list - Jake Lloyd, who appeared in "Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace."
Though he was generally pleased with how their meeting went, Randall got a lesson on why Lloyd was really there.
"I didn't talk to him about movies," Randall said. "I talked to him about college and stuff like that. I'm a college student. He's a college student."
But Lloyd wasn't comfortable with the conversation, Randall said. "He said he was a private person, and 'I don't want to make friends.' "
Like the other celebrities there, Lloyd was there to make money.
The star list includes actress Angie Everhart, Billy Dee Williams, professional wrestler Raven and the cast of the upcoming film "Into the Darkness," starring novice actor Kiowa Gordon, best known as Ebry Call in "Twilight: New Moon" and the upcoming "Twilight: Eclipse." The film hasn't even started filming yet, but the cast is using shows such as Adventure Con to build the hype.
Like Furrell, the "Darkness" cast knows they can find a fan base ready made for their movie even before it's made. A question-and-answer session early Friday afternoon brought a couple of dozen fans, most of whom were too shy to ask questions.
Adventure Con will continue today and Sunday. For information on hours and admission, go to adventurecon.com.
© 2010, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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