July 29, 2016 Walker Stalker Con Invades New Jersey 7-9-16 & 7-10-16
Much like the Zombie apocalypse portrayed on AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead, Walker Stalker Con has spread like wildfire across the land. Initially begun as a concept to bring together the fans and cast members of one of television history’s most popular series, Walker Stalker Con debuts the tagline “For Fans, By Fans.” Becoming a reality in 2014, in the two years since the convention’s introduction, it has grown by leaps and bounds, now taking place in more cities across the USA than ever before.
With New York/New Jersey one of the most popular hosting locations of Walker Stalker Con, for the first time ever, it found itself visiting the Tri-State in the summer months for a two-day special event. Returning to New Jersey on Saturday, July 9th, and Sunday, July 10th, it was literally Christmas in July for The Walking Dead followers. Keep in mind, up until now, Walker Stalker Con was becoming a holiday tradition for New Jerseyans and New Yorkers, as the previous two visits in 2014 and 2015 occurring just prior to Christmas. Changing things up, rather than having to wait until December, fans were gifted a new convention and at a new location. Held at Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey in the past, this time the organizer decided to move the event to Edison, New Jersey, setting up shop at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center.
Nestled in an industrial neighborhood away from major traffic, while a little further away from New York City, the new location offered more convenient parking, and more central location for surrounding areas. A total of 200,000 sq. ft. opposed to 61,000 sq. ft. of Meadowlands Exposition Center, the larger space was put to good use as layout and the organization was a welcomed improvement for Walker Stalker Con. While most fans are predominantly concerned with the guest list, and rightfully so, a tightly run event makes a day out with the family much more pleasant. That being said, upon walking up to the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center, everyone was greeted warmly by more seasoned staff members, more well-rounded security, and a more fan-friendly environment.
As stress levels subsided, it was time for everyone to kick back and enjoy themselves as they scoped out their itinerary. Logically, with massive turns out, most decided to shuffle over to the guest area first to have their memorabilia autographed. This time showcasing a guest list that included Norman Reedus (Daryl), Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes), Josh McDermitt (Eugene Porter), Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha Williams), and Laurie Holden (Andrea). While these are just a handful of The Walking Dead cast members on hand, fans were elated to see a rare appearance by Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale) and Lennie James (Morgan) accompanying convention vets like Scott Wilson (Hershel Greene), Emily Kinney (Beth Greene), Alexandra Breckenridge (Jessie Anderson), Katelyn Nacon (Enid), Tovah Feldshuh (Deanna), Ross Marquand (Aaron), as well as Michael Cudlitz (Abraham Ford). Just a bundle of the names on hand, as always, the ensemble of current and past cast members were gracious to meet their fans, engaging in pleasantries, as well as hugs.
With such things in mind, everyone has their favorite character for one reason or another, and it was extraordinary to see how fans expressed their love for each of those characters. There were many young kids sporting Carl Grimes style Sheriff hats, many women dressed with pigtails like Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos), and nearly everyone brought Cudlitz a box of Bisquick baking mix in response to his unforgettable Abraham quote from season six’s Knots Untie episode. It was a delightful time where everyone was smiling, laughing, and relishing in the opportunity to come face to face with the cast members they religiously follow on The Walking Dead.
While the convention does centralize around The Walking Dead, it has made grand efforts to diversify to other areas in Horror, Sci-Fi, and Pop culture. The proof was in the guest list additions of A&E’s Bates Motel star Max Thieriot (Dylan Massett) and AMC’s Breaking Bad star Giancarlo Esposito (Gus). In addition, 1968’s Night of the Living Dead legend Russ Streiner (Johnny) was on hand as a reminder where the Zombie subculture all began and Cassandra Peterson was on hand, known as legendary character, Elvira. So when it was all said and done, convention goers had assembled a larger portfolio of signed memorabilia to proudly display at home.
Does it end with autographs though? No, this was only the beginning because Walker Stalker Con also brought in a wider selection of merchandise and food vendors, plus even sectioned off a kids zone with massive inflated slide. Not to mention there were also plenty of panels scheduled throughout the two days where on-screen relationships were recounted for all to sit down and watch as live, in-depth interviews took place. All in all, the third Walker Stalker Con to visit New Jersey was one of the most professionally developed to date. It is a testimony to the dedication of the organizers to improve the infrastructure of this massively popular event that is popping up everywhere from San Francisco, to Boston, to London, and is even set to sail on a cruise out of Miami in 2017. Plus, talks are Walker Stalker Con will be back in New Jersey before the end of 2016, returning to the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center December 3rd and 4th. So sit tight The Walking Dead fans, season seven premieres on October 23rd at 9 PM EST, and chances are by the time December rolls around for Walker Stalker Con, there will be plenty to talk about.