Heather Lauer, co-chairwoman of Herd Hero Con, poses with Spider-Man.

HUNTINGTON The first of what is intended to become an annual event, Herd Con, will be at Marshall University on Saturday.

The event will have a general Pop Culture theme, but it will showcase all of the departments and fields of study the university offers that connects with pop culture.

“It was actually the idea of Associated Vice President of online learning, Monica Brooks,” event co-chair Heather Lauer said. “She is also the Dean of University Libraries, and she had said it would be nice to have a university-sponsored pop culture event.”

Lauer, who is an assistant professor and undergraduate librarian (and a self-proclaimed “huge nerd”) thought it was a wonderful idea, and was more than happy to jump right into the organizing.

“We are going to be doing a lot of things that will cover a lot of different interests within the broad pop culture field,” Lauer said.

The event is a university library-sponsored event and will be free to not only Marshall University students, but students of any college. “We want everyone involved,” Lauer said. “If you are a student, just bring your school ID and its free admission. If you are 18 and younger, it’s free as well. And for everyone else, the admission is only $5.”

Herd Con will include 14 academic panels covering a range of pop culture related learning, 53 artists and vendors, popular card games, tabletop games, and RPGs (role playing games), as well as many exhibitors. There also will be three live bands performing, a parent’s lounge and cosplay contests complete with prejudging and prizes. “We want everyone to have a great time, and we want people to know what is available at Marshall University,” Lauer said.

“It haas been exhausting but fun getting ready for the first Con,” Co-Chair Michelle Alford said. “We have been planning since last May because we really wanted to provide an event that people will enjoy and one that helps the Huntington area as well. We are expecting a good crowd and we have had a lot of positive community support.”

“There have been a lot of local artists getting involved,” Alford said. “We have a lot of the local artists, a lot of comic creators and artists, and local crafters and stores that have jumped in as well. We have two large rooms filled with gaming, and we will have a lot of retro video games, too. And the Digital Humanities Department will be there working with people on how to set up a text-based video game. So it will be both fun and educational.”

One of the local artists involved is Ben Durfee of Huntington, the designer of the event T-shirt. Lauer said Durfee incorporated traditional West Virginia elements and other elements to represent Marshall, gaming, libraries and the New River Gorge. And she also said if the shirts happen to sell out, they can be ordered because they are also printed by a local company.

Both co-chairs said they hope the event will be well received and become an annual event, and hope to provide the area with an enjoyable, educational experience.

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