February 13, 2024

Big River Comic Convention receives the Community Betterment Award

Debbie Hays, Big River Comic Con, accepts the 2023 Community Betterment Award.

Before 2019, we’re not sure how many people in Hannibal, Missouri had been to a Comic Con. And we’re equally unsure how many Comic Con-goers had been to Hannibal, Missouri. But our first 2023 Community Betterment winner changed that when establishing Big River Comic Con right here in Hannibal. 

The intention behind starting Big River Comic Con in Hannibal was to bring a big city-quality experience to a smaller market for families in our area to enjoy. That goal has certainly been achieved, with thousands in attendance each year and several celebrities headlining the events.

Actor Spencer Wilding said of Big River Comic Con:

“They’re just more family-oriented,” he said. “It’s like you’re invited into people’s homes in a way. It’s less commercialized. Of course I enjoy the big conventions, too, but I like the more intimate feel of smaller cons.”

Wilding played Darth Vader in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” as well as had roles in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the “Harry Potter” film franchise, and “Game of Thrones” to name a few you’re probably familiar with. He’s just one of the many actors, illustrators, authors, and other recognizable names to appear at the event. 

Big River Comic Con started as a one-day event and quickly grew to a full weekend event to accommodate more activities – and attendees. If you haven’t been there yet, you may not be familiar with all they have to offer. Some of the events on the schedule for this spring’s event include celebrity meet & greets, iCon gaming tournaments, sketch battles, music and performances, celebrity panels, costume contests – including CosPaws for pets and LittleCos, KidsCos and TeenCos in addition to Adult and Pro Costume contests – plus vendors, a game arena, food trucks, and more. You might even see some adoptable pets from the Northeast Missouri Humane Society.  

The number of attendees and vendors has steadily increased since Big River Comic Con debuted in Hannibal, but if that success was not enough already, Debbie Hays (also a Chamber Ambassador, whom we like to think of as our very own superhero) also added to the BRCC line up a one day “Wicked Fest” at the Admiral Coontz Recreation Center in October 2023.

Speaking of superheroes, one of the unexpected benefits of the Big River Comic Con is the formation of the Hannibal Heroes United group. Hannibal Heroes United is a group of like-minded individuals dedicated to improving their communities through their love of cosplay. The charity group was founded in 2019 after many of the members met at the very first Big River Comic Convention. Since then, they have been enjoying cosplay while giving back to the community. This group is not only giving back, but also giving people a place to fit in.

Deb Hays has a great event planned for 2024, featuring names like Emily Swallow, actress from The Mandalorian (and more), legendary voice actor Scott Innes, and WWE legend Jake the Snake Roberts. It will undoubtedly be a big local and regional draw again this year, bringing people together and dollars to our local economy.

Congratulations to Deb, on all that Big River Comic Convention means to Hannibal!