All C’s Fan Expo Gets Bigger, but Stays Free | Westword

All C’s Fan Expo Gets Bigger but Stays Free

"We want to provide everyone with a place where they can be a kid again."
Trish Farnsworth (center) poses with her husband and All C's co-owner James (right) and former Broncos lineman Orlando Franklin.
Trish Farnsworth (center) poses with her husband and All C's co-owner James (right) and former Broncos lineman Orlando Franklin. All C's
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While FAN EXPO Denver is now international, the Mile High City still has a homegrown Fan Expo, courtesy of one of the city’s long-running card, comic, coin and collectible stores: All C’s. Despite the name, there's no affiliation with FAN EXPO HQ, which took over the mega-con in 2019.

All C's Collectibles has been around for 36 years; the first store opened in 1987 in Aurora, at South Chambers Road and East Iliff Avenue. It’s now a local chain with three locations across the south Denver metro area, plus an online store. In April 2018, the store began a semi-annual tradition of hosting a small gathering for fans and vendors, and the All C's Fan Expo was born.

The Spring 2023 All C’s Fan Expo is scheduled to take place over Easter weekend, April 7-9, at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, 25690 East Quincy Avenue in Aurora. Just like every other year, there will be dozens of vendors selling sports cards, trader gaming cards, comics, Funko Pops, action figures and toys, anime merchandise, retro gaming stuff and more, including gaming events and an Artists' Row. The event runs from 3 to 8 p.m. on Friday, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Even better? Admission is free.

“One of the catalysts for starting our own event,” laughs All C’s co-owner Trish Farnsworth, “was that we weren’t invited back one year.” Farnsworth says this was during the chaotic transition when the Denver Comic Con became Pop Culture Con (a name that only stuck for a year). “We’d been around for a long while and sold everything from cards to comics to toys to TCG gaming, and we’d just had a standing invitation to take part. All of a sudden, we didn’t have that. So we figured if we were going to get the snubbery, we’ll just go make our own con.”

All C’s did just that, holding the first event in spring 2018 at the DIA DoubleTree Hotel on Tower Road. But after only the first few bi-annual shows, it grew to unmanageable levels of popularity for that 2,000 square feet of space. “For the next show, we filled 6,000 square feet,” recalls Farnsworth. “After that, 10,000. Still not enough space. Now we’re at 26,000 square feet over at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds.”

Despite the mysterious exclusion from the first year of Pop Culture Con — something All C’s found it wasn't alone in experiencing — All C's was invited back the next year. “We did go back,” Farnsworth says, “and no one knew why a bunch of us had been uninvited. We’ve done that show ever since, but we kept our own events going, as well. It was too much fun not to.”
“This is also the first year we’re having TCG [trading card game] and video game events at the show,” adds Ken Sullivan, who helps All C’s with its events. “At one point we were competing against ourselves; we had a big Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament with seventy players here at the store at the same time as the Expo. It worked out fine, but we thought combining the two might be better for everyone.”

Farnsworth and Sullivan expect that the All C’s Fan Expo, and its new inroads into gaming, will only grow from here. “We finally have the space to expand,” Sullivan says. “I go to a lot of TCG gaming events locally, and some of them have hundreds of gaming tables. We finally will have the room to include more of that in the next couple of years.”

Sullivan and Farnsworth also make it clear that they’re not in the business of competing with existing cons in order to shut them down and take the lion’s share of the collectible convention market. “We’re committed to working with both the community and the other events that serve them. And we’re not just one thing. We’re a collectibles showcase.”

All C’s Fan Expo’s relationship to community extends beyond the collectors — the events support nonprofits, as well. Its major partner is Aurora Rise, which formed after the tragic Aurora theater shooting in 2012 and is still committed to helping survivors and supporting efforts to prevent gun violence. The video game tournaments will benefit ExtraLife, a program of the Children’s Medical Network of Hospitals, and other funding will go to CBR Kids, which provides books and comics for hospitalized youth.

It might surprise longtime patrons of the event formerly known as Denver Comic Con that admission to All C’s Fan Expo is free, but that’s part of both its charm and its central philosophy. “We don’t care what we have to do,” says Farnsworth. “We want to keep it free for people. We want to provide everyone with a place where they can be a kid again. To be able to buy anything from sports cards to coins to comics to vintage toys. The He-Man figures and Barbie dolls we played with. It just makes people happy.”

All C’s Fan Expo will take place April 7-9, Arapahoe County Fairgrounds, 25690 East Quincy Avenue, Aurora. Admission is free, and more information can be found at the All C’s website.
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