More than 90,000 people made their way to the 2019 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo over four days.
Gavin Young / Postmedia
More than 90,000 people made their way to the 2019 Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo over four days, despite Mother Nature’s best efforts on Saturday to keep the crowds at bay.That is in line with numbers last year and the year before, although down slightly from 2016’s 103,000 peak.The severe storm, which seemed to hit Calgary on Saturday just as people were leaving Stampede Park for the day, certainly didn’t help matters. But it also didn’t seem to have too much of an effect on attendance.“There were operational issues, of course,” said Andrew Moyes, vice-president of Fan Expo HQ, the division of Inform Exhibitions that has been overseeing Calgary Expo for the past two years. “Flickering lights, plane delays, challenges for everyone leaving the Expo last night. All that fun stuff. But these conventions are built on passion, so a little bit of snow, especially in Calgary, is not going to dampen that. If anything, I think it provided a great backdrop for some of the awesome costumes.”While locals may not have been entirely amused by this burst of nasty weather, some of the L.A.-based celebs attending Expo certainly saw it as a novelty. Actress Christina Ricci told the audience Saturday afternoon that she was looking forward to the deluge. Goonies alumni Corey Feldman, Ke Huy Quan and Sean Astin also said they approved during their reunion panel on Sunday. RoboCop Peter Weller claimed it was nothing compared to the burly climes of west Texas, while actor Josh Keaton, who provides the voice of Green Lantern among others, tweeted a video of himself in near ecstasy frolicking in the snow. (“I’ve been to snowy places, I’ve skied, I’ve snowboarded, but I’ve never seen it falling from the sky and it’s falling from the sky!”)Fan Expo HQ oversees 12 fan conventions across North America, which certainly gives it some weight when it comes to booking guests. Still, as in years past, the lineup for Calgary Expo was in flux right up until a few days before the festivities began Thursday night. David Harbour, star of the Hellboy reboot and Netflix’s Stranger Things, was a last-minute cancellation. Rainn Wilson of the Office cancelled earlier this month.But there were other timely acquisitions this year, including Zachary Levi from Shazam!, which was North America’s reigning box-office champ until Avengers: Endgame this weekend.Ricci, who starred in the Addams Family films and Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow, was also added to the lineup less than a week before the show.“We’re dealing with actors who are in their prime right now, Zachary Levi is in — before this weekend — the highest-grossing film in North America,” Moyes says. “We’re dealing with people who have a lot of commitments and crazy schedules. So that in itself means that things come up, So when (Harbour) cancelled, we felt we needed to replace and bring someone else as an offering to the fans.”“And, of course, now we’re thinking about next year.”Next year will be the 15th anniversary of Calgary Expo. In that time, fan conventions have certainly evolved. In future years, organizers will still be bringing in TV, film and animation stars along with comic-book creators and artists, but will also look to new areas, Moyes says. That includes the growing and strange new world of YouTube celebs and international Cosplay stars.Calgary is ahead of the game when it comes to incorporating the city into the event, Moyes says, particularly during the POW Parade of Wonders in downtown Calgary. None of the other 11 expos under the Informa Exhibitions umbrella have achieved that sort of festival atmosphere. The parade attracted 5,070 costumed participants and an estimated 15,500 spectators.“It truly makes this show so special and something for us to aspire to in other markets as well,” he said.