SALT LAKE CITY - Thousands of Utah fans were happy to spend their Fourth of July holiday visiting Middle Earth.
FantasyCon, which drew three hobbits and several dwarves from the “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” trilogies, brought in more than 55,000 people over the course of the three days. Though that’s less than last fall’s Comic Con and this spring’s FanX, those who were on hand seemed happy with the company they were keeping.
“I’ve never been to one of these conventions before, but my inner nerd pushed me to come,” said Farmington resident Justin Ninh. “It feels like my old nerdy high school group, expanded to thousands of people.”
A major draw was the appearance of Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd and Jonathan Rhys Davies from “The Lord of the Rings,” as well as several of the actors who played dwarves in “The Hobbit” trilogy. Also on hand was Sylvester McCoy, who played the seventh incarnation of Doctor Who and Radagast the Brown in “The Hobbit” trilogy.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a more attentive, focused group of people in the history of the planet,” said Astin, talking about the audience at one of the panels he attended.
Kaysville resident Rebekah Grow came for the Tolkien-related events and meetings, but she stayed for activities including stage magicians and an archery range where all of the arrows have rubber balls on the tips.
“Another reason we came is that it’s more interactive for the kids,” she said. “I’m very impressed. I think they’ve done a fabulous job.”
Some of the convention attendees were of a more serious bent, there to audition for the second season of the fantasy-themed reality TV series “The Quest.”
“I’m here for fame, fortune and glory,” said McClain Napier, who had come straight to the audition from work.
Others, however, had time to take in more of the convention.
“The sculptures, particularly the dragon statue, is amazing,” said Layton resident Brady Wilkinson, who was also there to audition. “So much good work and talent has gone into making them.”
Organizers plan on pouring even more of that work and talent into next year’s FantasyCon.
“Considering that FantasyCon is a first year convention without an established brand behind it, the response was amazing,” said Josh Patel, founder of FantasyCon. “This is only the beginning; we’re already looking at ways we can improve on FantasyCon next year.”