Cosplay fans donning their unique costumes and portraying fictional characters united Saturday in Mitchell for the first time during the inaugural Dakota Dungeon Con convention.

The all-day Comic Con-like event featured a handful of retro video game and anime-themed vendors who offered their products to the public. Pokemon key-chains, original anime artwork pieces and Super Mario coasters were just a few items the vendors offered at the Davison County Fairgrounds.

“We are trying to provide more opportunity for the cosplay culture. We wish we had this good of a support system when we were children, and we like the idea that kids, adults and families can bond over mutual cosplay interests,” said Aidith Rushford, Dakota Dungeon Con event coordinator. “The idea is to create a fun family environment, as well.”

Cosplay is the art of costume crafting, in which participants wear costumes and portray a specific character. It’s common for cosplay fans to create and make their own costumes, and several at the event were able to put their costume making skills on display.

Rushford said she hopes the event will continue growing the local culture of cosplay.

Alongside the vendors was a lineup of several video game tournaments from the likes of Nintendo 64’s Mario Kart to Mortal Kombat. In addition, the Dakota Dungeon Con hosted a tournament featuring the popular card game Magic the Gathering.

“We are trying to go for the dungeon and middle earth-like experience, and it’s great to see fans of cosplay have opportunities to share their interests,” Rushford said. “It’s very impressive to see the craftsmanship of each costume. There are some amazingly talented costume makers here.”

The cosplay show took place at 5 p.m., as participants put their intricate costumes on display for awards.

A popular costume choice among the cosplay fans was the portrayal of Yu-Gi-Oh characters. Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon are two well-known card games that grew to become a popular hit across the country. The card games also developed into video games and anime TV series.

Brian Wipf, who also helped organize Dakota Dungeon Con, said the event is living proof of the growing acceptance cosplay fans and video gamers have experienced over the years.

Previously, Mitchell didn’t have much to offer for cosplay culture but Wipf has stayed true to his passion for retro video games, anime and all things cosplay.

“When I was a kid, being a nerd felt more negative. But that stigma isn’t like it used to be,” Wipf said. “It’s not negative; it’s people having fun around similar interests. And that’s all we’re doing.’  

With a lifelong passion for retro and modern video games, Wipf was right where he belonged on Saturday helping oversee Dakota Dungeon Con’s video game tournaments.

“I’m proud to see this stay strong and continue growing,” Wipf said of cosplay.