March 1, 2024

OhayoCon: beloved Columbus convention makes return

OhayoCon, a  convention centered around anime and video games, is held annually at the Columbus Convention Center around February. 

In 2021, the convention was canceled due to the spike in COVID-19 numbers, but OhayoCon came back for 2022. 

Regarding their COVID-19 policies, while I can appreciate the requirement to be vaccinated, you could also be allowed in if you are unvaccinated but had a negative test in the last three days. There were a few other policies that could have been better, but more on that later. 

There are several events held there, but it boils down to three activities:  Buying from vendors, visiting panels and checking out the larger “shows.” 

Some conventions have huge sprawling isles of vendors for as far as the eye can see, and even if you tried, you could never really look at them all. OhayoCon doesn’t have quite that many, but there are definitely enough to spend up to six hours looking at everything that’s there. 

All photos by Brandon Madden.

There was everything from over-priced leatherworks, to figurines, to comic books, to artwork. 

The highlight for me was the upstairs that overlooked the vendor area below. The entire upstairs section was dedicated to small artists selling their artwork and had commission slots open for people to commission original art from them. Commissioning an original piece of artwork for as little as $50 is quite a steal and several of the artists were offering similar rates. 

Regarding the panels, some of them were interesting, but of the smaller panels I visited, they came across as a bit boring overall. But, there were at least a hundred of them that I didn’t check out, so your experience may vary. 

The “shows” had huge crowds and were always exciting. Just from the few that I saw, they had a drag show and a K-pop dance competition, and on the last day they had an orchestra playing video game music. 

The real draw for most people is the ability to cosplay, where people dress-up as whatever movie, video game, anime character you can think of. 

Cosplay featuring characters from Star Wars.

More than half of the people there were in some form of cosplay. And all of them were more than happy to take a picture with you if you asked. 

All cosplay varies in skill level from an outfit that was ordered off Amazon to professional-looking outfits made from scratch that often takes months. 

There were also various rooms that had events that weren’t quite panels. There was a PC gaming room where people could sign up and compete in various PC competitive games like “Team-Fight Tactics,” “Valorant,” and “Apex Legends.” 

There were other areas for tabletop gaming as well as console gaming, and winning any of these tournaments won you free tickets for next year’s OhayoCon.

These smaller rooms were where some of the COVID-19 protocols varied. For example, in the PC gaming room, they had event workers making sure to constantly keep keyboards wiped down and all stations were socially distanced. Then, in the arcade room, there were no event workers in there and people were just going from one machine to the next. 

These procedures seemed to vary from room to room, with no real pattern; some rooms were socially distanced well, and others weren’t, some were being wiped down, and others weren’t. 

Overall, though, most of the attendees there were doing their best to make sure nobody got sick and nearly every person I saw made sure to have their mask(s) on, and to avoid other people when eating, drinking, or smoking outside. 

Cosplayers dressed up as Mario Kart characters.

While the price can be a bit steep at around $75 for the weekend, if you order the tickets when they first become available, you can get them for around $50.The next OhayoCon is planned to take place from Jan. 19 to Jan. 22 in 2023.


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