Darth Vader is in line at the Greek Festival at the Sacramento Con- vention Center. He stands well over six feet tall in his armor. He
orders some lamb over rice pilaf with a
serving of pastitsio, a delicious baked pasta
dish, on the side.
“If it wasn’t for the Greek Festival I’d just
be eating pizza like I usually do,” Vader
told me as we both
sat down with plates
piled high with
roasted meats seasoned with the right
amounts of lemon
and oregano. “Greek
food is real good,” the
Dark Lord of the Sith
After Vader removed his helmet to eat, he reverts to Paul
Williams, an English major at Sacramento
State University who has been cosplaying
as Darth Vader for nearly three years now.
twice-annual Japanese animation convention, but he couldn’t resist heading down
the hall to the Greek Festival for some lunch.
“I took at least three pictures with people
while I waited in line,” Williams said.
SacAnime and the Greek Festival have
been sharing the Sacramento Convention
Center since 2013, and the whole crazy
combo works somehow. While hungry
the gyros, and the
enjoy having so many
tures around, this odd
synthesis is coming
to an end. The Greek
Festival is moving to
its new location at the
Orthodox Church in 2017, so it’ll be back to
pizza for Darth Vader next year.
“Why? Why do they have to leave?” Andy
Sheehy of Sacramento plaintively asked.
He’s been coming to SacAnime for years
now and looks for ward to being exposed
to Greek music and culture. Lisa Pohl,
dressed as a Magikarp from the Pokemon
Go game, was grinning from ear to ear after
ordering some Greek pastries covered in
honey. She also said she’ll miss the Greek
Festival, and the feeling seems to be mutual.
Kopi Sotriropulos of KMPH-TV in Fresno, a
regular attendee of Greek Festivals around
the Central Valley, admitted that he’s going
to miss the crossover with SacAnime.
“They’re both wonderful, uplifting events,”
he said. “It’s been a win-win situation.”
After Paul finished his last bite of lamb, he
put on his helmet and became Darth Vader
again. As he walked toward the stage, young
boys in traditional Greek dress strayed over
to the Dark Side, begging their mothers to
let them have their pictures taken with the
Star Wars villain. Moms, clutching their
smartphones, asked Vader if it’s OK. He
obliged, even handing one of the boys his
lightsaber. The boy held it aloft, dreaming of
using The Force to vanquish Persian invad-
ers at Thermopylae no doubt.
This is sadly the last time a scene like this
will be taking place in Sacramento, and
SacAnime can probably use the extra space,
judging by the long lines wrapping around the
convention center. The Greeks are also going
to be able to hold their festival outdoors and
roast a big lamb on a spit for the first time in
Hopefully Darth Vader and a couple of
Magikarps will find their way there.
Bob Calhoun is the author of Shattering
Conventions: Commerce, Cosplay and
Conflict on the Expo Floor. You can follow
him on Twitter at @bob_calhoun.
IN EACH INSTALLMENT
BOB CALHOUN CRASHES
A NEW TRADESHOW,
LOOKING FOR A WAY TO
FIT IN—EVEN WHERE
HE DOESN’T ALWAYS
SHATTERING CON VENT IONS
Anime Con and the Greek Fest collide in Sacramento
with surprisingly happy results