Salt Lake Comic Con seeks balance in its 5-year anniversary

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake Comic Con packed in fans to close out the state’s annual comic and pop culture gathering Saturday, a larger and smoother-run version of the event that burst onto the scene five years ago.

With about an hour left in the day, Dan Farr, Salt Lake Comic Con founder and show producer, said it appeared attendance may be just above previous installments of the homegrown geek celebration, which has drawn an estimated 120,000 people to the Salt Palace Convention Center in the past.

As comic con celebrated its fifth anniversary, Farr said the event is reaching an ideal size as organizers work to balance the “ecosystem” within it.

“For the most part we’re pretty much the right size for the attendance versus the number of celebrities we have versus the number of vendors,” Farr said. “The thing we always need to watch is keeping a balance of all of those things.”

Among the celebrity highlights for this year’s convention were Elijah Wood, who starred as Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings movie franchise, and cinema icon Dick Van Dyke.

Fans put into a lottery for seats to Wood’s panel, which was filled to capacity Saturday as the actor shared behind-the-scenes memories from making “Lord of the Rings” and answered questions from fans. When one young fan asked how he had connected with his character, Wood likened taking on the role from J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved fantasy novels to the responsibility Frodo bore as he carried the “one ring” to be destroyed in the story.

For Farr, moderating Van Dyke’s panel appearance Friday — after the 91-year-old actor initially announced he would only have the energy to sign autographs, then mustered his strength and rescheduled his events at the last minute — will be a favorite memory.

“I’ve wanted to have him come to the show for so long and give fans the opportunity to meet him,” said Farr, who met Van Dyke 20 years ago while working on a children’s book.

With each event, Farr said, organizers have shifted the layout of the vendor floor and space for panels and attractions around the convention center. And as the halls filled up, Farr was pleased to see traffic moving smoothly throughout.

The ticketing system has greatly developed as well, he said, and attendees he talked to praised the organization around the photo op staging area.

“All of that has…

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