With the 14th convention quickly approaching, organizers of OMG!con are putting the finishing touches on an event that has been a year in the making. Completely volunteer run, OMG!con will take over the Owensboro Convention Center June 7 – 9, spilling over into downtown hotels, businesses and restaurants throughout that weekend.
Board member Dylan Hedges said that over 800 people have pre-registered for the event. She expects attendance to beat last year’s 2,500 people.
“We used to be an anime convention, but as we have grown, we have merged into more of a pop culture convention,” Hedges said.
OMG!Con will host special guests that Hedges said are very popular with OMG!Con regulars including anime veterans Michael Sinterniklaas, Greg Ayers and Rikki Simons. And although Hedges said these special guests — nine in total — are sure to bring a crowd, equally attractive for the convention are the other amenities offered.
The first level will feature a video game room, which Hedges said is the largest in the region.
“We will have every console you can imagine,” she said. “Some people will come to OMG!Con just for the games.”
An exhibitors hall will feature vendors and artists with various merchandise for sale. New this year is a local partnership with Escape Today which will offer an escape room and virtual reality gaming for convention goers.
“This is the first time we have had something as interactive as this,” Hedges said. “We are excited about working with another local business.”
The rest of the convention will offer panel rooms with OMG!Con special guests, a room of tabletop games, a cosplay (costume play) contest, larping (live-action role playing) and more.
Visit Owensboro’s Dave Kirk said OMG!con is such a unique event that he and his team are happy to host the convention in Owensboro.
“The whole culture that it brings with it is one of acceptance and being kind to one another,” he said.
Kirk said the conference has a significant economic impact on Owensboro, estimating the OMG!Con will bring $300,000 to the community with a good attendance.
The indirect impact will be even higher, he said, giving the example of an OMG!Con ticket holder going out to eat, and the server from the restaurant spends his tip at another Owensboro business. OMG!Con said in years past the indirect impact is near $1 million.
“Our guests are more than willing to spend money downtown,” Hedges said, adding that local spots like Mellow Mushroom, The Creme and Fetta are crowd favorites.
Despite the popularity and success of the conference, Hedges said OMG!Con is a nonprofit and doesn’t make any money from ticket sales or sponsorships. All the extra money is donated to a local charity. This year the group has chosen Puzzle Pieces.
With 3,000 expected in attendance this year, Hedges expects the conference to spread throughout downtown.
“They basically take over downtown,” she said. “Last year, people in costume were everywhere.”
And the thousands that come to Owensboro for OMG!Con are not just from Owensboro and surrounding areas. In fact, they aren’t even just from Kentucky or the U.S. Hedges said the Owensboro-based conference draws people internationally.
OMG!Con was held in Paducah until five years ago when the conference made the jump to the then new Owensboro Convention Center.
“Owensboro has been a dream come true for OMG!Con,” Hedges said. “I wish every convention had a city as cooperative and encouraging as Owensboro.”