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In two short years the Salt Lake Comic Con has blossomed into one of Utah’s premier events and one of the most-attended fan conventions in America. It’s so popular, in fact, that an equally-popular second event, titled FanX, has been created to fill the time between the comic cons.

This year’s FanX, taking place March 24-26 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, is hosting numerous celebrities who will offer panels, autographs, and photo ops, including Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Matt Smith (Dr. Who, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Jason Isaacs (the Harry Potter films), Tom Kenny (the voice of Spongebob Squarepants), Dean Cain (Lois and Clark), and famous moonwalking astronaut Buzz Aldrin.

Aside from stargazing, there’s plenty for families to do at these events. Allow me to be your guide, using photos and video from my past experiences to show why you might consider taking your family to FanX 2016. (Video courtesy of The KJZZ Movie Show; photos by C.J. Jackson and Shawn Healy).

REASON # 1: CELEBRITIES AND PANELS- At every Comic-Con event, a host of stars turns out to mingle with the fans. A highlight is the panel discussions, where they answer fan questions directly and share insights from their work (there are also fascinating panels with industry professionals and die-hard fans). Here are some of the highlights from the last event.

captain america falcon

Chris Evans (Captain America) and Anthony Mackie (Falcoln) from the Marvel movies.

sebastian stan

Sebastian Stan (Bucky/The Winter Soldier) from the Captain America movies.

anthony daniels

Anthony Daniels (C3PO) jokingly scolds a Harry Potter fan.

christopher gorham

Christopher Gorham (The Other Side of Heaven) poses with my brother-in-law.

felicia day

Felicia Day (Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog) entertains the crowd.

jenna coleman

Jenna Coleman (Dr. Who) charms the masses.

panel

Thousands attend the celebrity panels.

sean astin

Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings, Rudy, Goonies) is a humble fan-favorite.

studio c1

Studio C left everyone in stitches…

studio c3

… and met with their loyal fans.

REASON # 2: COSPLAY- Short for “costume play,” the FanX and Comic-con events offer some of the world’s very best people-watching. It’s like the largest, most elaborate Halloween party you’ve ever attended, with many fans crafting their own home-made costumes.

addams family

The Addams Family

ant-man

Ant-Man

batman gordon

Batman and Commissioner Gordon

batman villains

Batman villains pose with my buddy Shawn.

dalek

A dalek from Dr. Who.

dr. octopus

Dr. Octopus from Spider-Man.

mary poppins

Mary Poppins and Bert.

monsters

Horrifying monsters.

raptor

A tiny tyke meets a raptor-wrangler.

street fighter

Street fighters.

REASON #3: EVENTS– There is an incredible amount to see and do, from numerous kid-friendly events to film screenings, live entertainment, and more. A few of my favorites:

batmobile

Sitting in the original Adam West Batmobile.

hypnotist

A hypnotist put these geeks to sleep.

jedi

Hanging out with the Jedi.

storm trooper

Preparing to blast the Rebellion with a Storm Trooper.

twisted toonz

In Twisted Toonz, voice actors from your favorite cartoons act out movie scenes (in this case Harry Potter) in the voices of their characters. A hilarious highlight.

REASON #4: VENDORS – We don’t have a lot of images on this one, but there are acres upon acres of memorabilia, comics, posters, gear, swag, and more on the vendor floor.

C3PO marked the entrance to a whole lot of toys.

Jonathan Decker is a licensed marriage and family therapist at Your Family Expert. He is the clinical director of The Online Center for Couples and Families, offering virtual therapy in several states. Jonathan is a family film critic with The KJZZ Movie Show, Sundays at 10 pm on KJZZ-TV (UT). His book, 250 Great Movies for Latter-day Families, is available in paperback and Kindle.