Melissa McGinnis describes Geekend as a cross between a traditional comic book convention and a street fair: There are panels and cosplayers, but you’ll also see people like the local quilters and the high school marching band.

Geekend returns to downtown Kilgore Saturday and Sunday for its eighth year. McGinnis says they are planning a wide-ranging schedule of events to make up for last year’s more pared down Geekend — although last year reminded them of what Geekend was about, McGinnis said.

“It had its benefits, it really did, because even though it was pared down and much smaller than we wanted just so we could ... stay within mandates and things, it kind of reminded us of something that we don’t want to lose with Geekend, which is that small community spirit,” she said, noting how all of the downtown merchants banded together during the difficult time. “That was something that was just really, really awesome last year, as small as it was.”

Geekend events will take place at the Texan Theater, as well as outside on South Kilgore Street and on Main Street. Tickets are $5 for a one-day pass, $8 for a two-day pass and $20 for the new VIP pass.

VIP passes include a private tour of the East Texas Broadcast Museum, a vendor set-up sneak peek, a VIP dinner with guests, a VIP ghost hunt in downtown Kilgore and a premium swag bag.

There will be fan-friendly events, such as author panels and cosplay characters roaming the streets; family-friendly events, such as a Cookies with Chewie and face painting; and a long list of local and sci-fi/comic vendors for shoppers to explore while at Geekend.

“There’s definitely going to be a lot to do,” McGinnis said.

One of this year’s focuses, given the fact that everyone is finally able to come out of COVID quarantine, is helping people reconnect or find new interests in the community, McGinnis said. For example, they’ll have info on the Gregg County Master Gardener program for those who picked up a gardening hobby during the pandemic.

“We’re bringing in a lot of organizations, clubs, fan groups, places that can offer help so that people can get what they need, they can find ways to plug back in and reconnect with things that they may have been doing without while we’ve been in isolation,” she said.

Special guests and performers include voice actor Joshua Passmore, Theatre Longview improv troupe Duck Duck Moose!, Red Dirt Paranormal, T&T The Haunted Ones, singer Sheri Booth, magician Wesselini the Card Houdini, San Antonio cosplayer and aerialist Ashe, cosplayer Paul T. Watson, author Michael Scott Clifton, author Edward Hancock II, Lucky Shot Laser Tag, rock band Jericho March, cosplayer Bill Necessary and belly dancer Lauren Raqs.

A casting call for an upcoming alien sci-fi movie, “Know Thy Enemy,” will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Head to the Charlie’s Sno-Balls and Seasonal Tanning truck.

Geekend is also hosting a Naruto Run, a silly and fun event where people will be sprinting at breakneck speed while leaning forward, arms stretched straight behind and hands splayed open, based on the long-running show. Winners will get a prize pack, for the kids’ race, or a free membership to Raw Iron Gym in Kilgore, for the adults’ race.

Chewie, from the Star Wars franchise, will take photos all weekend and host a Cookies with Chewie event and a Storytime with Chewie event Saturday.

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