The annual Fanboy Expo is experiencing growing pains — of a beneficial kind.
The event typically is held at the Knoxville Convention Center. That is still the case, yet there will be a second indoor venue — the World’s Fair Park Exhibition Hall.
“We needed more space,” Fanboy representative Adam Phelps said. “Last year, there was a lot of overcrowding. With two venues, we now have more room for people to spread out and be more comfortable.”
More than 30,000 people attended last year’s installment of the Fanboy Expo. This year that number could be higher.
“This year’s ticket sales are up compared to last year,” Phelps said. “Attendance has increased with every summer show; we have never had a drop-off. Will we have more than 30,000 people this year? It is difficult to say. There are so many various factors at play. We will not know until we have the event.”
The Convention Center will be the primary venue with the bulk of the artists, celebrities and vendors. There also will be a retro arcade area. On the show floor there will be a walkway to the exhibition hall. The second indoor venue will feature more artists and celebrities, the Q&A stage area, the photo op station, a celebrity car gallery and a “Star Wars” interactive area.
“Using the walkway from the convention center to the exhibition hall for the Q&A stage is a shorter distance than the way it was set up in the past, which was walking from the convention center show floor to the third floor,” Phelps said.
A primary addition to Fanboy is the outdoor food court in World’s Fair Park.
“Food vendors were at the top of the list in our survey that is used to get input from fans,” Phelps said. “The line at concessions can be very long and the restaurants located downtown are further away than some people care for. We will now have vending trucks, offering everything from barbecue to ice cream.”
This year’s celebrity lineup includes fan favorite Bruce Campbell, best known for his character Ash Williams in the “Evil Dead” franchise.
“Bruce is one of our most requested celebrities,” Phelps said. “We have been trying to get him at Fanboy for a while, but he had contractual obligations elsewhere. Pre-sales for a (Bruce Campbell) fan package has been high. We expect him to have a long line.”
Other featured guests include Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman), Richard Dean Anderson, Cary Elwes, Billy Zane, Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov in “Star Trek”), Carmen Electra, Jon de Lancie (Q in the “Star Trek” franchise), Jason David Frank, Patrick Renna (Hamilton Porter in “The Sandlot”), Denis Lawson (Wedge Antilles from the original “Star Wars” trilogy), Tony Dow, Jerry Mathers, Doug Bradley (Pinhead in “Hellraiser”), Nick Castle (the original Michael Myers), and Ted Raimi (“The Evil Dead” franchise).
Voice actor legend Frank Welker also will be at Fanboy. He is known as the voice of Scooby-Doo and Fred Jones in the Scooby-Doo franchises, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. He was Megatron in the “Transformers” animated series and live-action movies, and has performed hundreds of characters throughout the decades. Other voice actors appearing are Mark Dodson (“Gremlins” and “Gremlins 2”), Roger L. Jackson (Ghostface in the “Scream” franchises), Alan Oppenheimer (Skeletor from “He-Man: Masters of the Universe”), Kenny James (Bowser in Super Mario Brothers franchises), Tara Strong (original “The Powerpuff Girls”), and Bret Iwan (current voice of Mickey Mouse).
Musical guests include Micky Dolenz and Michael Nesmith from the Monkees, Skid Row frontman Sebastion Bach, and Marc Martel, best known as a member of The Ultimate Queen Celebration and lending his singing voice to the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Martel will perform a concert at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Tennessee Amphitheater. Admission is $25-$95. A free show will follow, featuring the JiggaWatts performing music by Journey, and the band known as The Bad Obsession, offering Guns N’ Roses covers. Wrestlers always are a major aspect of Fanboy.
“Some people may not understand why we have wrestlers at the show,” Phelps said. “Fanboy is about nostalgia. For some people, wrestling was a big part of their childhood. The wrestlers are always great with people, and fans can’t get enough of them.”
Ring legends set to appear include Mick Foley, Harley Race, Sgt. Slaughter, The Iron Shiek, Jimmy “Boogie Woogie Man” Valiant, Brutus the Barber Beefcake, Jim Cornette, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey, “Sweet” Stan Lane, Angelina Love and Velvet Sky. A special wrestling event titled “KTown TakeDown” will be held at 7:20 p.m. on Friday at the Tennessee Amphitheater. The show will feature wrestling matches, and tickets start at $15. Following TakeDown will be “An Evening with Mick (Foley) and Glenn (Jacobs).”