BRADENTON -- Kids of all ages came out to downtown Bradenton on Saturday to embrace their creative sides at the Manatee Central Library's fourth annual comics convention.
Mana-Con drew crowds of children and adults throughout the day Saturday who participated in art workshops, a costume contest, played trivia and watched martial arts and Japanese-style dance performances.
For Tessa Cullen, it's an event that she looked forward to attending with her friends for the third year in a row.
"Every year I dress up," Cullen said. "Last year I won the anime contest."
This year Cullen, 19, dressed up as an elf and was enjoying the assortment of vendors at the event with her friends. They said they appreciated the pricing of vendors compared to other similar conventions they
have been to elsewhere.
"My favorite part is having an excuse to dress up and getting all fancy," Cullen said. "I do it every chance I get because I am an actress."
The event is held at the Manatee Central Library and sponsored by Friends of the Library. The library was also holding an art supplies drive in support of after-school art programs at Rogers Garden Elementary.
The day featured many activities throughout the library and included giveaways of comic books and goodie bags for children.
Library staff and volunteers were also enjoying the event.
Angela Williams, 20, was checking out the vendors after helping with the small children, acting as an escort and taking them where they needed to be.
"Dressing up is the best part," Williams said. "I have been to every Mana-Con convention."
Williams enjoyed participating in the costume contest as well.
"The best part of Mana-Con is that you actually get to enjoy the literature and dress up," Williams said. "It's a way to express yourself and how you can get lost in anime."
The convention had something for all ages, with Star Wars Reads Day II in the children's program room for kids 11 years old and younger.
Anna Balakonis, mother of four, brought her children aged 4, 9, 11 and 14 to the comic convention.
"They all like the library, comic books and anime," Balakonis said.
"I liked the clones," her son, Caleb Balakonis, said. "I really liked making the candy sushi."
Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can also follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.