BILOXI -- Darth Vader was there. So were the Grinch, the Joker and even Santa Claus. They joined pirates and Klingons and Imperial storm troopers and steampunks and Whovians and sci-fi fans from across the South on Saturday at Geekonomicon at the Coast Convention Center.
The three-day celebration of all things geek started Friday and ends today.
"This is our second year to do Geekonomicon in Biloxi," co-founder Julianna McRae said. "The core group that started it, we worked at other cons and attend a lot of cons, so we decided to bring it home and try and contribute to the community."
Offerings at the convention ranged from films for children to panel discussions with artists, actors and representatives from the world of gaming.
It has filled three exhibit halls with vendors and fan groups and offers a large area for computer gaming and role-playing games.
Workshops feature topics such steampunk costuming and cosplay and anti-bullying.
"What we're trying to show is that this stuff has become a huge part of our culture," McRae said.
She said she hopes the con will help eliminate some of the stereotypes associated with the word geek.
"We're just saying it's acceptable to love this culture."
Another attraction is celebrity appearances of such as actress Bai Ling, who was in "Star Wars: Return of the Sith."
Actor Richard Hatch, who played Apollo on the TV series "Battlestar Galactica" said he was glad to return to Biloxi for the con's second year. He said he asked the promoters to bring him back.
"I always like coming down here," he said. "Everybody is really warm and friendly. I wanted to see what they could do in the second year and they've really expanded. I think they've done an exceptional job."
He said Geekonomicon is a good representation of the evolving industry of fan conventions.
"Cons aren't just about sci-fi anymore," Hatch said. "There's gaming, actors, writers, directors, comedians -- it's become a whole amazing kind of thing."
McRae said one of the primary goals in bringing the convention to Biloxi was to create another tourist attraction for the Coast.
"After Katrina, the tourism industry suffered," she said. "So we wanted to do something that would bring people to the area that would create revenue and stimulate the economy."
McRae said another goal was to do something to help others.
"We always raise money for a charity," she said. "This year, we are doing it for the USO."