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  • Expanded Monroe Pop Fest will feature celebrities – Monroe Evening News

 September 13

by Carolina

This weekend’s Monroe Pop Fest will have a decidedly more outdoorsy feel than any of the previous iterations.

There will still be hundreds of vendors, several celebrities, numerous panel discussions and other activities taking place inside the First Merchants Bank Expo Center, located on the Monroe County Fairgrounds, over the course of the two-day show that begins September 17.

But event organizer Gary Pillette explained that his focus this year has been on adding to what was previously offered out on the surrounding fairgrounds, both as a natural means of growing the show and also as a way to offer alternative entertainment for attendees concerned about the ongoing pandemic.

Pillette said that additions to the outdoor offerings include an expansive food court, a DJ, and multiple authentic and replica movie and television prop displays and interactive exhibits. The Pop Fest cosplay contest will also take place outside on the fairgrounds this weekend.

“We’ll have some more gatherings, and some more fun out there to try to give people an excuse to go outside,” Pillette said. “There will be a bunch of cosplayer groups out there (entertaining the crowds), including the Ghostbusters and the 501st (a well-known group of Star Wars cosplayers).”

Of course, the expo center itself will still offer plenty to occupy attendees. Pillette still expects the facility to be packed with vendors, and a schedule of panel discussions will be posted on the Pop Fest website and Facebook page so that visitors know what they can look forward to and when.

From a celebrity standpoint, the big draw this year is actor Doug Jones. Known mostly for his work behind heavy makeup and/or costumes, Jones played Billy Butcherson in the cult classic, “Hocus Pocus,” and was the suit actor behind characters such as Abe Sapien in the original “Hellboy” films and Silver Surfer from “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.” Since 2017, he has starred in “Star Trek: Discovery” as Captain Saru.

“He’s our biggest guest that we’ve ever had, by far,” Pillete said. “He’s been posting (on social media) that he’s excited to be in Monroe. It’s one of the first cons he’s done in almost two years, I think… It makes us feel good when the celebrities are looking forward to going (to the show).”

Jones will be joined by a slew of other celebrities, including Tim Jacobus, the illustrator of many of the books in R.L. Stine’s ‘Goosebumps’ series, and former Detroit Red Wing Darren McCarty. There will also be a platoon of Power Rangers on hand, including three actors from the most recently completed season, “Power Rangers: Beast Morphers” and a “Mystery Ranger” that Pillette has been teasing on social media for weeks.

A full list of those slated to appear can be found at https://www.monroecomic-con.com/. More information can also be found on the Monroe Pop Fest Facebook page.

Now a veteran of the chaotic world of event organizing, Pillette said the build-up to Pop Fest is a frenetic blur of last minute details. From ensuring programs, printouts and VIP badges have all been printed, to verifying that rental cars are in place to pick up celebrities from the airport, to ensuring there’s enough hand sanitizing stations in and around the expo center, it’s a good bet he won’t be sitting still until the show is over.

“It’s all stress until it finally starts running, and then it usually runs pretty good,” Pillette said.

“I love it all.”

Original posted at www.monroenews.com

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