LAND O'LAKES — Whether you're a fan of the new mobile game Pokémon GO, or you have more than a passing interest in Star Wars, ThunderCats or anime of any kind, there's something to take in this weekend at the Land O'Lakes Library's eighth annual LAMEcon (Library Anime and Manga Enthusiasts).
The two-day event, sponsored by the Friends of the Library and private donors, kicks off with a dance and costume contest Saturday evening and wraps with a closing ceremony Sunday.
"LAMEcon is super nerdy and fun, which is great because I'm super nerdy," said library volunteer and LAMEcon committee member Phoebe Mitchell, 16.
And no doubt a little noisier than what some might traditionally expect at the library, said Mitchell, who is organizing the opening dance and has dressed most recently as a Weeping Angel from the BBC's Doctor Who.
The inaugural LAMEcon was held eight years ago at the Hudson Regional Library and had 52 attendees. In 2015, more than 2,300 kids and adults from 20 Florida counties and nine states attended LAMEcon.
"The initial idea was that we knew a lot of kids were into these anime and pop culture conventions like Metrocon and Megacon, but they were just so expensive," said Paul Stonebridge, teen services manager for the Pasco County Library System.
He helped start the event as a way to offer an affordable con venue for local kids.
"We realized that we had access to all these materials. We have kids that hang out. We decided to start a small sort of convention where teens of like minds could come together. Now we're about one-quarter of the size of Metrocon, and that's really good sized."
Unlike most conventions, admission to LAMEcon is free.
The Land O'Lakes Recreation Center will serve as the main convention hall, featuring 21 local artists, food trucks, vendors and discussion panels. Among the panelists will be gaming voice actors Adam Harrington (League of Legends, Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us) and Robert Axlerod, who has a lengthy list of anime, cartoon and movie credits. Other special guests include cosplayers Kira Chi and Ruby Rapture, gaming journalist and web series producer Aaron Pabom, indie pop artist Marc with a C, and the 501st Legion, an international Star Wars costuming organization.
The Land O'Lakes Library will be dedicated to gaming — video games, PC based games, card games and tabletop gaming.
"There's something for every interest — every level including children's games for the 10 and under crowd," Stonebridge said. "Our highlight is that we will be giving away handmade Harry Potter wands courtesy of the Tri County Woodturners."
And while there is the opportunity to spend money with vendors or the $10 ticket for the annual Maid Cafe featuring singing, dancing and Japanese snacks, most everything else is free, Stonebridge said. "Anyone can come to LAMEcon and not spend a dime and have a great time."
Contact Michele Miller at [email protected] Follow @MicheleMiller52.