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Pensacon 2016: Growth Continues But Questions Linger

  Officials from Pensacon were still getting guests to the airport on the Tuesday after the convention, hoping they could get out of town ahead of the bad weather. "Luckily we got everybody out before the storms hit." said MikeEnsley, who spent the rest of the week taking care of the things you take care of after a huge three day convention.

It will be about another week before the economic impact to the area can be estimated, but last year brought just over $3.8 million of revenue to Pensacola. Ensley, the Founder and Chairman of Pensacon thinks this year will be a bit higher. "Looks like we (had) the same number of attendees, but we saw a really different trend this year." Ensley said they sold more three day passes than one day passes. He believes that is because Pensacon is getting a good reputation among people who go to these types of events. "Across the country we're starting to be known as a con you can go to and have a really good time." Ensley says it will be at least next week before they get the official economic impact estimates from their partners at Visit Pensacola.


Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
Lines wind around the Bay Center front lot early Friday morning at Pensacon

There were some issues over the weekend with convention goers waiting in long lines to pick up their admission badges. Ensley said they were using a new ticketing company this year and there were technical problems with printers that led to long lines the Thursday evening before the convention at the Crowne Plaza and both Friday and Saturday at the Bay Center. "I really hope that's something we can work out next year."

And then there’s the big question, what about next year. Pensacon and the Pensacola Bay Center have been at odds over the dates available for next year. Ensley says he thinks it was a communications problems and is working with the Ecsambia County Commission and the management of the Bay Center to work out the issues and announce the dates for next year.

Credit Bob Barrett / WUWF News
Patricia Quinn, "Little" Nell Campbell and Barry Bostwick at the Saenger Theater for the Rocky Horror Picture Show reunion panel at Pensacon 2016

That’s not to say that there hasn’t already been some thought about what guests to book for next year. Mike Ensley says one certain type of guest panel seems to get the best reaction from fans. "One of the things we found work best for us is reunions. We like to do reunions (of casts from shows and movies) and not just single guests." This year Pensacon had several reunion panels, including cast members from the series Babylon 5 and the movies Mallrats and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. "There are some shows that we have our eyes on that we really want to do."

So while there are still no firm dates for Pensacon 2016, the planning for next year has already begun. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.