Cosplay is one of the finest and most enjoyable people watching experiences at any convention. Its popularity over the last decade has exploded to the point that there are online forums, how to videos on YouTube, and local and regional competitions for the hobby. I had the privilege to judge one such competition in West Valley City, Utah. The event was hosted by The Nerd Store inside the Valley Fair Mall that the comic and gaming shop is located. Sponsored by the Salt Lake Comic Con and the Valley Fair Mall, the event had a great turn out and was a wonderful success.

The 2014 summer in Salt Lake City feels almost like a countdown to the second annual Salt Lake City Comic Con. That feeling has not gone away because of officially sanctioned Salt Lake Comic Con events like the cosplay school at the Salt Lake Library and the cosplay competition at The Nerd Store. The crowd that showed up for the competition was made up primarily of fans of the convention. Competitors themselves were there to show off their costumes but also to win a multi-day pass to the Salt Lake Comic Con in September.

J.M. Bell of the “Hold 322” and “The Left Show” podcasts was the master of ceremony for the event. Dressed in a lively kilt and military boots, his jovial behavior and red locks hidden under a cowboy hat made sure the energy level of the crowd stayed high between rounds. There were also some great little games for anyone in the crowd who wanted to participate. The Nerd Store gave away King Kong and Killer Bunnies from “Monty Pythons and The Holy Grail” to participants who acted like the ape or gave their best Killer Bunny death scene on stage.

The local radio station X96 showed up for the event with Utah’s Godfather of Geek Kerry Jackson. Kerry talked to the crowd and filled in time with some great tunes from X96. He and the local television news station ABC 4 Utah got a chance to talk to the co-creator of the Salt Lake City Comic-con and special celebrity judge Dan Farr. Dan Farr spoke to me about judging and politely stepped aside for his creative director Randall Lloyd. Farr said,

“I’m not a fair judge because I like everything. The costumes I've seen today are all terrific and many of the characters are some of my favorites. I’ll make sure to talk to the crowd and the cosplayers but Randall can take my place as a judge on the panel.”

Randall Lloyd was one of the six judges from local geekdom to weigh in on what costumes were fun, well made and were crowd pleasers. The other Judges on the panel were Aldo Gomez of The Globe and Examiner.comMandi Russell and Cassandra Givens of the Entertainment Is Dead podcast, Brandigirlio of The Salt City Strangers and me, Mark Avo of this here Big Shiny Robot site. The judges picked the best of the best in Group, Children, Comic Book and Sci-Fi/Movie/Animation categories. Not to be outdone, the Valley Fair Mall and Kerry Jackson of Radio From Hell and theGeekshow Podcast picked Consuela from “The Family Guy” cosplayed by <> for a special award.

The cosplay contest is being called “The first annual, The Nerd Store Cosplay contest” so the expectation for next year is high. With over 35 contestants this year, and with the media coverage and official support of none other than Dan Farr of The Salt Lake City Comic Con, next summer should bring in an even bigger crowd. There is still room to grow in the center stage of the Valley Fair Mall but if the contest grows up as fast as Utah’s little con that could, that won’t be enough room for very long. Continue down below to find pictures of some of the contestants and the winners and check out the both the Entertainment is Dead and the Big Shiny Robot Facebook page even more event photos.

The winners of each category are listed below:

Kerry Jackson/Valley Fair Mall winner Marilei Puentes as Consuela
The Nerd Store Salt Lake Comic Con Cosplay Contest - Consuela

Funniest winner Bill Cartmell as Barf
The Nerd Store Salt Lake Comic Con Cosplay Contest - Barf

Children winner Mia as Loki
The Nerd Store Salt Lake Comic Con Cosplay Contest - Loki

Group winners Link and Zelda.
The Nerd Store Salt Lake Comic Con Cosplay Contest - Link & Zelda

Comic Book Winner Sam Johnson as Terezi Perope
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest - Terezi Perope

Sci-Fi/Movie/Animation winner Belinda Christie as Merida
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest - Merida

Best Overall winner was Link
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest - Link

More photos from the event:
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Chris Hoffman
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor SharpeThe Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Chris HoffmanThe Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay ContestPhoto: Taylor SharpeThe Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: @Brandigirlio
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Brandi Blair
The Nerd Store Cosplay Contest
Photo: Taylor Sharpe
The Nerd Store Cosplay ContestPhoto: Taylor Sharpe

 

If you'd like to see more photos go visit the Entertainment is Dead or The Nerd Store Facebook Page. Thank you to Taylor Sharpe, Brandi Blair, and Chris Hoffman for their photos for this article. If you are one of these fine Cosplayers, please be sure to say hello in the comments below and don't forget to visit our booth this September.

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Tags: Cosplay , The Nerd Store , Contest , Comics , Salt Lake Comic Con