FanX returns to Salt Lake after COVID-19 absence

FanX guests mingle in the Salt Palace Convention Center on Thursday. FanX, an expo of pop culture and Utah’s hub for all things geeky, returned after its 2020 cancellation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Sakina Steflik)

SALT LAKE CITY — FanX, an expo of pop culture and Utah’s hub for all things geeky, returned to the Salt Palace Convention Center from Thursday to Saturday after its 2020 cancellation because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Thousands of guests, many dressed in cosplays and costumes, attended to partake in several ongoing events and mingle with others with similar interests. 

Veteran guests and newcomers welcomed this year’s return of FanX. Panels, vendors, celebrity meet-and-greets and even a cosplay courtroom were featured activities. 

Stephanie Hansen (left) and Connie Starks dress as the Joker and Harley Quinn from “Batman” on the vendor floor. (Sakina Steflik)

Stephanie Hansen, who cosplayed the Joker from “Batman,” said this was her fifth convention. The best reason to come, she said, is getting to be a character for a little while. “You can enjoy being that character and spread that joy to everyone else.”  

Long-time cosplayer Cass Beihn arrived dressed as Rapunzel from “Tangled” and said she loves the atmosphere and community. “I’ve been a cosplayer for the last seven or eight years. I’m super excited to be back.”

Dallen Bailey stands in line for entry wristbands dressed as Snufkin from “Moomin.” (Sakina Steflik)

This was Dallen Bailey’s first time attending without a group at a convention.

“To me, it really is such an interesting experience for me. I’m LGBT so I go to Pride and stuff like that, but I never really feel like I find a community and people willing to take me in as much as I do at FanX,” Bailey said. “At FanX, people just see me and they just brought me in, saying, ‘Follow us. Be here. Be a part of this.’ I always feel so welcome, especially this year.” 

The main vendor floor drew most of the crowds. Rows of vendor booths spanning across the large Salt Palace showroom floor included artists, authors and craftspeople.

Patricia Bossano stands at her vendor booth at FanX. She has been a full-time independent author since 2016 and is a recurring exhibitor at FanX. (Sakina Steflik)

For supernatural escape artist and author Patricia Bossano, FanX is a “pilgrimage.”

“There’s a bit of supernatural-weirdness and I feel that these are my people. I’m here with my five books that I published and I refer to them as supernatural escapes because every single one of them has an element of the supernatural,” she said. 

TJ Schmitz found himself right at home on the vendor floor as he and his family ran their booth for Three Penny Market and sold prop and replica guns, steampunk accessories and other artistic trinkets. What started as a way to raise funds for their childrens’ church missions turned into a fun side gig for the whole family. 

TJ Schmitz stands at his booth as he and his family sell their goods for Three Penny Market. (Sakina Steflik)

“What’s really fun about FanX is that everyone gets to be themselves. You get to let your freak flag fly, be yourself and have fun,” Schmitz said.

Out in one of the lobbies near the grand staircase, William King could be found in his Bob Ross costume with a canvas and easel as he invited those passing by to add to the canvas. 

William King dressed as Bob Ross invites all who pass by to add to his canvas. (Sakina Steflik)

“The original idea was that I would be Bob Ross and painting all day, but people came by and thought that was really cool, so I figured, ‘Oh, well if you’re enjoying it, why not be doing it also, and add in yourself?’ That worked out really well and was a lot of fun. Little kids especially loved it and it looks great in the end,” King said.

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