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'We've missed it so much': FanX organizers eager to return this year following pandemic hiatus

A group cosplay from the "Kingdom Hearts" video game during FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention in 2019. After a year of due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FanX returns to the Salt Palace Convention Center starting Thursday.

A group cosplay from the "Kingdom Hearts" video game during FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention in 2019. After a year of due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FanX returns to the Salt Palace Convention Center starting Thursday. (John Mabunga, Mabunga Media)


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SALT LAKE CITY — After a hiatus last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention is back this weekend.

The convention starts Thursday and continues through Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

FanX producer and founder Dan Farr said it's great to be back after skipping last year.

"We've missed it so much," Farr said Wednesday. "We really miss being together with the group of people that we've grown to kind of feel like it's family as we get together."

The convention includes appearances from celebrity guests, panels on pop culture topics and other events. This year's list of celebrities includes former "MythBusters" host Adam Savage, actor Zachary Quinto, former N*SYNC member Joey Fatone, FanX perennial guest Jess Harnell, and many others.

"It's nice to get the celebrities to come out," Farr said. "We've got such a great reputation here in Salt Lake as being a really wonderful show for the celebrities, because the fans treat them so well, and they just have such a fun time here."

Farr said he's particularly excited to see actor Jamie Farr at FanX this weekend. Growing up, Farr said he remembers seeing the M-A-S-H actor on TV and realizing that he was the only actor he'd seen who shared his same last name.

Fatone made an appearance at Utah's Hogle Zoo last month. While he was at the zoo, several people asked Fatone if he'd be coming to FanX, Farr said. Typically FanX organizers don't book guests back-to-back, but Fatone had such a good time in Utah that they decided to bring him back a month later, Farr added.

Quinto, known for his appearances in the TV show "Heroes" and the "Star Trek" franchise, doesn't make a lot of public appearances, Farr said. So bringing Quinto to Salt Lake is a "big deal," he said.

"There's also just a lot of fun people that I've met in other shows, and they say, 'Oh, I want to get out to Salt Lake sometime,'" Farr said. "And so being able to kind of showcase the people of Salt Lake to them — I'm kind of proud of the people here in Salt Lake, because I just know that they're so, so welcoming and so nice to all the guests that we bring. So I'm just excited to have them come and meet the amazing people here."

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Utah, Farr said there were some slight concerns that organizers might have to postpone FanX again. But government officials in Utah want events organizers to push ahead with their plans, Farr said. They decided the show must go on — safely and responsibly.

Masks are required for all FanX attendees regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status. Attendees at the convention will also undergo temperature checks before entering the event, and hand sanitization stations will be available throughout the Salt Palace, according to the FanX website.

Farr said he also hopes that people will use common sense to keep others around them safe, even if they're not at risk for the disease themselves.

"I really do hope that people will realize that it's not just about them, it's about other people, you know, just being careful," he said. "And that we all can kind of focus on really just making sure that we're being as safe as possible. And, you know, hopefully, through the protocols we have in place and the masks and everything that there won't be infection spread, or if it is, it's very mild."

Ticket sales are within 5% of where they typically are in a nonpandemic year, Farr said. So it appears that there is a good amount of people who are in the mood to get out and join the festivities.

"Obviously I wouldn't want to encourage somebody to go out if they're in a high-risk category or if they're concerned," Farr said. "But for those people that are anxious to get out and do something fun and have a great experience, then be sure to join us."

For more information about FanX, visit fanxsaltlake.com.

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