SALT LAKE CITY — At 14 and 16 years old, Logan and Paige Mayes couldn't wait to spend the weekend traipsing around in matching outfits with their parents.
"It's been cool," Paige said, speaking above the din of the bustling Salt Lake Comic Con convention floor.
"I have always wanted to do cosplay," her brother added.
The teens agreed they were excited about their mother's idea to spend the weekend at Salt Lake Comic Con together, including going Saturday dressed up like characters from the slapstick comedy "Dodgeball."
Especially visible in their bright yellow jerseys and shorts, the family of four said they were pleasantly surprised at how many people stopped them for photos Saturday.
"This is our first year cosplaying and I wanted to do something the whole family could do and that was easy, was comfortable," Angel Mayes said. "I was watching 'Dodgeball' late one night and was like, 'That's it, we're going to do Average Joes."
The Mayes family came from Vernal to attend all three days of Utah's homegrown comic and pop culture convention. At times they split off to pursue their own interests, but for the most part, they were happy to be together.
"I just like being here with my family," said Spencer Mayes, looking toward his kids. "There's something for everybody here. Cosplay, movie stars, the panels, everything."
The weekend served as a fun family vacation, Angel Mayes said.
"It's a nice clean environment where you can take your kinds and let them wander and you don't have to worry about them," she said. "It's kind of like a nice vacation not far from home. We eat at nice restaurants, we stay in nice rooms at the Sheraton, it's just like a nice retreat for the geeks."
Salt Lake Comic Con wrapped up its main 2016 event Saturday. Organizers said initial attendance estimates put the convention on track to match last fall's event, which drew more than 120,000 people to the Salt Palace Convention Center. That included increased attendance on Saturday compared to the last convention, with an uptick in profits and a decline in customer service claims, Salt Lake Comic Con co-founder Bryan Brandenburg said.
Comic con co-founder and show producer Dan Farr said that matching last year's attendance is a win for the event, especially while competing with five similar conventions happening around the country and any number of Labor Day weekend vacation opportunities.
This year's event included celebrities like Mark Hamill of "Star Wars" and William Shatner of "Star Trek." The iconic stars spoke at back-to-back panels Thursday in the Vivint Smart Home Arena, attracting more than 10,000 spectators, organizers said. The appearances for the two superstars was moved from the traditional Salt Palace ballroom to allow for as many attendees as possible.
"We didn't have to turn away people," Farr said of the larger stage. "I know there are a lot of promoters who think, hey, if you have to turn people away at the door that's a positive thing, but we hate turning people away. We'd like to do whatever we can to accommodate as many people as we can who would like to get into an event."
Brandenburg said seeing the large, enthusiastic crowd in the arena was a memorable moment.
"To have that many people, the noise was deafening. It was like being at an NBA game," Brandenburg said.
The celebrity lineup featured stars like Millie Bobby Brown of the Netflix original hit "Stranger Things;" WWE wrestling hotshot John Cena; Stephen Amell of "Arrow"; and Ian Somerhalder of "The Vampire Diaries."
In addition to the on-screen stars were artists and authors, like Utah native Richard Paul Evans who spent the weekend promoting the sixth book in his popular "Michael Vey" series. The new book drops Sept. 13.
"There's such a great energy to this crowd," Evans said. "It's science fiction, it's fantasy, and actually the reception is terrific."
Evans answered questions and read an excerpt from the new book Saturday afternoon, with "Veyniacs" standing along the walls and sitting in the aisles to pack into the event. Also known as the author of the popular "Christmas Box" books, Evans said he enjoyed spending the busy weekend signing books and taking pictures with fans, especially young readers.
A fan of "The Walking Dead," Evans enjoyed the chance to geek out on his own for a moment and meet two stars from the show, Michael Rooker and Lennie James.
Farr noted that the event drew Utah politicians from both sides of the aisle, with Republican Gov. Gary Herbert dropping by to browse the convention floor and Democratic Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski kicking off the event's opening press conference.
"Politics is divisive but comic con is inclusive," Farr said. "You've got Democrats and Republicans, and we can all get along here."
As fans spent the event's final hours streaming through the packed sales floor and celebrity meet-and-greet areas, Brandenburg called the convention the organization's best so far. He recounted experiences talking with fans who stopped him to chat, including a mother who thanked him for the chance to introduce her autistic son to Cena, his favorite wrestler.
"You can see it in their eyes that this is a really special event," Brandenburg said. "We feel like we had out best event ever based on those kind of factors."