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Annicon welcomes thousands to annual convention

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March 28, 2017
By Kirsten Fiscus, The Anniston Star Staff Writer

Growing up in Anniston, city native Keith Wahl didn’t have an outlet to express what he called his “nerdiness.”

“When I was younger, I had a close group of friends who were interested in the same things, but we were kind of ostracized,” he said Saturday at the sixth annual Annicon. “This is a safe place where young people can come, have fun and be celebrated for their differences.”

Wahl, now a spray paint artist, comes to conventions like Annicon to sell his art, to support other artists and to support a local event, he said.

Annicon, an Asian cultures festival, started by humble means, said Kelly Barkwell, Annicon planning chairwoman and volunteer coordinator. She said that each year attendance has nearly tripled but the first year “maybe 50 people attended.”

“We held it at the public library the first three years,” Barkwell said. “There are conventions in Huntsville, Montgomery and Atlanta but there wasn’t anything in east Alabama. There wasn’t any kind of cultural outlook like this.”

Last year, Annicon saw about 1,800 visitors, Barkwell said.

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