Get your geeky fix on Route 66

GEMINI GIANT SUPERFAN — A young fan dressed up as the iconic Launching Pad statue during the costume contest held at the inaugural Geekin’ on 66 in 2017. File Photo by Pam Monson

Jennifer Glasscock
Staff Writer

If you’re a geek, you’re in good company.
Geekin’ on 66, a family-friendly “geek fest” hosted annually since 2017 by Chic, Geek & Antique, is headed to downtown Wilmington this Saturday, Aug. 31.
So what does it even mean to be a geek?
“To be a geek is a celebration of my knowledge and expertise of pop culture, my love of video games, my love of comic books,” Thommy Evans, owner of Chic, Geek & Antique said.
Twenty years ago, if someone said they were a geek, the image of Steve Urkel from “Family Matters” probably came to a lot of people’s minds. That association is not so prevalent anymore.
“I don’t think it comes with a connotation like it used to. These days, it’s really something you can celebrate,” Evans said.
And geeks from all around will come to Wilmington to celebrate this weekend.
In addition to Chic, Geek & Antique, numerous other downtown businesses will be involved in the festivities.
The activity kicks off midday. From noon to 5 p.m., comic vendors will be lining the streets for fans to purchase comics and get autographs from authors and artists.
One of the most well-known vendors is Mikey Babinski, an artist who has worked with Marvel, DC, Image and Boom! Studios.
Local author Mandy Madrox will also be there. Madrox is the author of the “Nephilim” book series, which is a sci-fi series that partially takes place in Kankakee.
Other vendors include Tom Cooper, Eric Cockrell, Adventure Squirrels and many more.
Throughout the day, attendees will be able to go to Our Caring Closet’s “Build your own Costume Booth” at the Park District building, 315 N. Water St.
At 2:30 p.m., all are welcome to participate in a costume contest where people will be dressing up as some of their favorite characters. Participants must register at Le Fleur De Lis Boutiques & Antiques by 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, but registration before the day of the event is preferred.
New this year will also include a “Fortnite” dance contest hosted by Wilmington Boy Scout Troop. Dancers of all ages can show off their moves emulating the popular dances that characters in the video game “Fortnite” perform.
Those interested in entering the dance contest should register at Chic, Geek & Antique, at 222 N. Water St., by Aug. 30.
Also new will be a geek auction held at Lions Mark Auctions, 202 N. Water St., beginning at 6 p.m. Geeks have the chance to purchase comics, toys and video games at the auction.
One of the high-ticket items is the video game released in 1991, “Ninja Gaiden II: The Ancient Ship of Doom” for the original Nintendo Entertainment System.
Water Street Flea Market will overlap the festival, which will stay open from 2 to 10 p.m. Evans advised flea market-goers to bring a flashlight if they plan to stay into the evening.
Other highlights during the day include a Plasma Goop Challenge at The Crafter’s Gallery, 115 N. Water St., and an appearance by special guest Mater, courtesy of D’Orazio Ford.
There will also be games, raffles and so much more for all to enjoy.
Fest-goers can expect a good turnout if the trend from the two previous years continues.
In 2017 when the first Geekin’ on 66 convention was held, Evans said he only anticipated around 100 people to attend, but his expectations were blown out of the water when about 600 people flooded downtown.
Last year, attendance dropped slightly to about 400 to 500 people due to a storm.
The large crowd reaffirms the fact that everyone is a little bit of a geek.
“Geekdom has so many different slices to it. It can cover me because I like comic books, it can cover the guy who’s obsessed with video games, it can cover the guy who’s obsessed with action figures or toys. There’s just so many different things that geekdom can mean to different people. The great part about it is it’s kind of inclusive,” Evans said.
“I think everyone, if they truly looked on their insides, they could find something geeky about themselves,” he concluded.