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‘Nerds, Gamers, Geeks, Otaku’ taking over LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge

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Costume contests, panels, game rooms, exhibits, concerts, dances, and workshops will all be part of Yama-Con at the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge, Dec. 5-7. Image courtesy of LeConte Center.
PIGEON FORGE, TN – An event like none other in the one-year history of the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge will attract a crowd of fans of anime, Japanese culture, comics, video games, science fiction, tabletop games and fantasy Dec. 5-7.

It is Yama-Con, a homegrown gathering that its organizers say is for “all nerds, gamers, geeks and otaku.” (For the uninitiated, “otaku” are devoted anime fans.) It drew 1,600 participants last year in a smaller venue.

“This is only our third year, and we’re moving into one of the biggest venues in Tennessee,” said event chairman Nick Carr. “Even we are amazed at the fan reaction.”

Previous bookings at the city-owned LeConte Event Center have included tradeshows, concerts, denominational youth rallies and gymnastic competitions.

“Yama-Con is quite a departure from previous groups, and it really shows the versatility of our space,” said Phil Campbell, facility manager.

Yama-Con’s theme is “Third Time’s the Charm,” Carr said, noting that “Yama-Con” is the combination of the Japanese word for “mountain” and an abbreviation of “convention.”

“We are here in the shadow of the mountains and are attracting some of the biggest talents in animation, comics and more. That’s why we say all nerds, gamers, geeks and otaku are welcome,” Carr said.

Among the participants are anime and video game voice actors Johnny Yong Bosch, Linda Ballantyne, Toby Proctor, Katie Griffin, Susan Roman and Erica Mendez.

Also on the lineup are Sonya Thompson and Larry Mainland, zombies from television’s “The Walking Dead,” and comic artists Tom Nguyen (DC Comics) and James Lyle (Zenoscope).

Yama-Con will use much of the LeConte Event Center’s main space, the 100,500-square-foot LeConte Hall, and numerous breakout rooms.

The schedule calls for costume contests, panels, game rooms, exhibits, concerts, dances and workshops. A replica section will have interactive displays including a tardis and dalek from the long-running “Doctor Who” show and working robotic droids from “Star Wars.”

According to Carr, Yama-Con drew 1,150 fans to the Smoky Mountain Convention Center in 2012 and 1,600 last year, both times at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center.

“We simply outgrew that space, and it’s very important that we keep our event in my hometown of Pigeon Forge. The LeConte Event Center gives us unlimited possibilities,” Carr said.

Full event details, including online registration, are at

Published December 3, 2014


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