Although Selby Public Library is always full of activity, Saturday brought a more colorful crowd.
Stormtroopers and Jedi warriors patrolled outside. Superman, Spider-man, Batman and other heroes were inside playing with children and posing for photos. The entire library, really, was full of families and fans enjoying the library's 2022 SRQ Con on April 9.
It's a relatively new event for the Selby Library, which put its first convention on in 2019.
“The big (conventions) in Tampa and Orlando cost money,” Librarian Diego Hernandez Calabria said. “We’re trying to give as much of the convention experience as possible for as little money as possible. That’s the primary goal of any library convention.”
The day’s entertainment included escape rooms, craftmaking, scavenger hunts, lightsaber training and more than 10 vendors showcasing comics and collectibles.
Calabria, who planned the event, said much of the programming comes from local groups and cosplay talent volunteering their time. He joined the library in early 2020 and says he brought his knowledge working in library cons elsewhere in the state to the burgeoning event.
“Public libraries are these places everyone can get together,” Calabria said. “They’ve evolved into places of community and togetherness.”
Families arrived wearing costumes of their own and set to playing games and attending panels. One popular offering was from the Outer Rim Guilds cosplay organization, which put on lightsaber battles.
Guild members Peri Adamides and Eddy Cooper were relatively recent converts to the "Star Wars" world. The pair have worked as performers with the Sarasota Medieval Fair before falling into the Outer Rim Guilds group.
While they still slash and parry with swords as renaissance fair staff, both Adamides and Cooper now put on practice fights with lightsabers. The same basic principles of sword fighting apply.
“We asked, ‘What if we took the knowledge we knew about stage combat and costuming and translated it to "Star Wars?"’” Cooper said.
Cooper, Adamides and other members fight with reinforced lightsabers with more than an inch of plastic coating. That way they stay in one piece, unlike the kind of lightsaber you’d buy at a toy store.
“I know there’s official (fighting styles) in 'Star Wars,' but that’s not where my training is based in,” Adamides said. “When I’m at a ren fair, I’m fighting with two daggers. This just seemed like the obvious option to have two (lightsabers).”
Sarasota resident and convention regular Elizabeth Hall said she was pleased with the day's turnout. Hall is involved with the Guardians of Justice cosplay charity group that works with nonprofits to visit sick children.
She’s gone to conventions as Wonder Woman in the past but this year dressed as Captain Marvel. Sunday’s event was something of a test run for her costume before she volunteers as the superhero with the group.
She brought her daughter, Amelia — who dressed as Elsa from “Frozen” and who Hall jokes has been in costumes since she’s been in diapers — to the show. The pair played games and painted their own viking shields on the library’s second floor.
“Having something local is a lot more fun than driving to Tampa or Orlando,” Hall said. “This gives people here the opportunity to come out and show their colors.”