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Pierce County Toy and Geek Fest this weekend

Inaugural convention offers geek culture with local flavor

That’s not a Wookiee! Members of the 501st Legion and Big Washington sort out a case of mistaken identity at the Washington State Fair & Events Center. Photo credit: Pierce County Toy and Geek Festival

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The first-ever Pierce County Toy and Geek Festival opens this Saturday at the Washington State Fairgrounds. Sponsored by local businesses Toy Stable, Images and Events, Atomic Comics, and Old Cannery Furniture Warehouse, Geek Fest is an all-encompassing celebration of geek culture and the only South Sound convention of its kind.

No matter your particular brand of geekiness, it will be represented at Geek Fest. Comics, pop and fan art, trading cards, video games, board games, movies, TV, assorted nostalgic Americana, and -- of course -- toys, means everyone has a seat at the table thanks to a vendor list that's packed the event space to the gills.

"The response has been overwhelming," said Chris Fowler, Geek Fest founder and owner of Toy Stable. "We already have an even bigger venue lined up for next year."

Even if you're a super-thrifty or a strapped-for-cash geek, the raffles and door prizes will ensure there's still plenty of opportunity to take home something you didn't know you needed. Or, if you're a more proactive breed of geek and like to dress up, you might put your skills to the test in the cosplay contest.

Speaking of costumes, local members of the 501st Legion will be onsite to take photos with attendees. The 501st -- also known as Vader's Fist -- is a worldwide organization of Star Wars fans who construct movie-quality replicas of the costumes worn by some of the more infamous "scum and villainy" from that galaxy far, far away, including every breed of Stormtrooper, clone trooper, pilot, bounty hunter, Imperial officer and even Darth Vader himself. These dedicated fans make appearances at promotional events all over the world, and their top-notch craftsmanship and attention to detail make them the "go-to" organization for official Lucasfilm events requiring Imperial troops. Legion members also make regular appearances at charitable events and children's hospitals. If the Empire had a PR department, it would be the 501st.

Depending on your views, PR might come in handy if you get a photo with one of the few remaining General Lee stunt cars from The Dukes of Hazzard TV series. For seven seasons, the Duke boys tore around in a bright orange 1969 Dodge Charger bedecked with a Confederate flag. In hindsight, that last bit of décor may be a little uncomfortable, but Bo and Luke "never meant no harm" by it, and considering the statistically unlikely amount of high-speed chases and collapsed-bridge jumps that were a part of everyday life in Hazzard County, getting a picture with a show-used stunt car is a rare opportunity.

Geek Fest offers geeks a chance to enjoy all aspects of geek culture with like-minded people for a great cause. A portion of the proceeds from admission go to the Spanapark Lions Club's eyesight and hearing programs as well as its annual "Adopt a Family" program, and there will be donation boxes for used eyeglasses at the event.

And honestly, what self-respecting geek doesn't have an extra set of glasses lying around?

Pierce County Toy and Geek Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 12, $6 adults, $4 kids, Washington State Fair and Events Center-Red Gate, 110 9th Ave. SW, Puyallup,,

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