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Geek Fest strikes back!

Second Annual Pierce County Toy & Geek Fest is shaping up to be a superior sequel

Chewbacca -- Peter Mayhew, who played Han Solo’s fuzy co-pilot from 1977-2014 -- is just one of the biggest guests set to appear at the Pierce County Toy & Geek Fest. Photo credit: LucasFilms.LTD

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"We have an even bigger venue lined up next year." That's what Pierce County Toy and Geek Fest cofounder Chris Fowler told me on the eve of Geek Fest's maiden voyage last year. More than double the size of last year's space at the Washington State Fair & Events Center, in fact. The cautious skeptic in me resisted the urge to recite some tired adage about egg counting, and I'm glad it did, because this year's festival boasts more than enough eggs to fill its bigger basket.

Many of the fixtures that made last year's festival such a success are returning for Episode Two, including a ton of local vendors dealing in comic books, trading cards, video games, board games, TV and movie memorabilia, pop and fan art, nostalgic Americana and toys of all kinds. Whatever your geeky passion, you'll find it here.

If you love to play dress-up, you can put your skills to the test at the cosplay contest -- but you'll have to have mad skills to compete with the Galactic Empire's wardrobe department.

Once again, local members of the 501st Legion will be onsite to take photos with attendees. The 501st is a worldwide philanthropic organization of Star Wars fans who don movie quality costumes of every conceivable breed of trooper, officer, bounty hunter and hyperventilating space wizard the Empire ever employed. Legion members regularly do appearances at children's hospitals and charitable events, and their top-notch craftsmanship and attention to detail frequently makes them the "go-to" organization for official Star Wars events requiring Imperial troops.

And why wouldn't the Empire be there? Chewbacca's coming!

Peter Mayhew, the 7'2 actor who played Chewbacca in every Star Wars production, starting with 1977's A New Hope through 2014's The Force Awakens, is just one of a massive roster of celebrity guests in attendance to take photos and sign autographs. Other guests include Tom Welling -- best known for playing a not-yet-super Superman on Smallville and more recently for playing the villainous Marcus Pierce on the formerly Fox/newly Netflix series Lucifer; Mehcad Brooks -- best known for playing Eggs Talley on True Blood and more recently for playing Guardian on Supergirl; Jason Mewes -- the talkative Jay to Kevin Smith's Silent Bob; practically the whole cast of Z Nation -- Syfy's superior Spokane-based answer to a certain zombie-themed AMC show; a host of well-known industry experts and insiders who can tell you definitively if your collectibles really are collectible and many, many more.

If you're the sort of geek who believes cars are the stars, you can get your picture taken with a Batmobile from the 1966 Batman TV series, K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider, the DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future trilogy, plus several Decepticons and Autobots attending Geek Fest incognito.

With a truly spectacular sophomore effort, Geek Fest is once again a great opportunity for South Sound geeks to unabashedly revel in our geekery for a great cause. A portion of the proceeds from admission go to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.

PIERCE COUNTY TOY AND GEEK FESTIVAL, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, June 30; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, July 1, Washington State Fair and Events Center - Blue Gate, 110 9th Ave. SW, Puyallup, $34 adults, $20 kids,

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