Interview with “Pikunikkucon” Creator, Annette Kowal

Can’t go to Glass City Con? You don’t have to miss your anime convention buddies this summer! On Saturday, June 22, Metro Detroit cosplayers will reunite at Firefighters Park in Troy for the annual picnic gathering, “Pikunikkucon.”

This miniature convention, first dubbed the “Youmacon Picnic,” first made its debut 7 years ago when creators Annette Kowal & Laura Stewart dared to dream of a local gathering during the summer draught for Detroit area cosplayers. This fan-based community, potluck-style event has grown from a few dozen to a hundreds in the past few years. Today, the Facebook group for the event has over 420 members!

“This is fun filled one day picnic event! All ages are welcomed and it usually runs from Noon till…as late as 7-10pm. You can come all day or just part of the day whatever you’d like. We ask everyone to bring either food to pass, or a drink of some sorts. And if you have any fun activities to bring that helps, too. We’ve had people bring badmittion, dodgeball, frisbee, and even kickball. If you ever have any questions about anything contact me or Laura Stewart. Please invite all of your anime friends, and let’s have a blast like we always do!” – Official Facebook Event

After meeting Annette at Youmacon (we Moonies find each other) and attending 2016’s Pikunikkucon myself, I knew I had to ask her more about her inspiration for this summer event!

Q: What inspired you to create Pikunikkucon?

A: So after Laura [Stewart] and I had finally met in person at Youmacon, we started discussing how there weren’t a lot of cosplay functions in our area during the summer. And we were just like ‘well, a picnic would be cool and a fun outdoor summer activity.’ So we started planning and had our first Pikunikkucon that year, which it was formally called the “Youmacon Picnic” back then. And the name Pikunikkucon simply came from the Japanese name for picnic, pikunikku, and then con because well it’s a mini convention. Our first year of the picnic, we had maybe 25-30 people and it’s grown so much since then.

Q: What are you most looking forward to this year?

A: Mostly, we’re looking forward to seeing our friends. We both work and I’m a new mom, so my little one keeps me busy…[that means] not a lot of time for cosplay and friends! It’s always great seeing everyone.

Q: Why should I come to the event?

A: You should come if you like to have fun, wanna cosplay, and meet a lot of awesome people!

There’s always something new and it’s always a good time.

Q: Where do you hope to see Pikunikkucon in a few years? Do you think it will grow?

A: Pikunikkucon has grown pretty much every year since we’ve started it and I see it continuing to grow. I’ve been telling Laura for awhile now by year 10 I’d love to have a venue with some indoor space so we could do more. And maybe we’d even have a multiple day event, not just a one day event! I’m excited to see our little picnic grow into what it has already, I can’t wait to see it continue.

Q: How far in advance do you have to start planning for an event like this? Do you have a team helping you?

A: We start planning like the next day after the event. We always have some ideas on what to improve for the next year that’ll make our lives a bit easier. Mostly it’s just Laura and I in the planning phase. Our good friend Sarah has not only designed the badges for the last few years but she gets them made. Sarah, along with some other close friends and even some volunteers help with setup and tear down and even p liking up during the event. We always appreciate the help that we get. We have talked about getting an actual team together to help ease us in the planning of it.

Q: Any memorable cosplays or moments you’d like to share?

A: I’ll never forget the guys who showed up in full Umbrella Corp cosplays, like all tactical gear in like 90° weather (they were crazy lol). I always love just seeing people who come out in full cosplay and I love seeing the different versions of casual character cosplays as well [My comments: Casual is SO essential for hot summer cosplay!].

Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?

A: I hope people who come out to our event have fun. And come in cosplay or don’t, it’s all about having a good time with good people.

Special thanks to Annette for this interview! Running a meetup like this is a ton of work, but I can’t wait to see her and all the other cosplayers next weekend! I’ll be wearing my casual Sailor Moon (aka Hipster Moon) cosplay and towing a big water bottle around to combat the heat.

Remember, if you’re planning to attend the event this year, know that this is a community potluck. Here’s a link to the group guidelines if you would like to bring something!  Last year, I was especially impressed by the variety of Japanese snacks available (mochi-flavored cake, Pokey of every variety, and lots more!).

This is a free event, but badges are available as a memento for $5 to support Pikunikkucon.

We at Dashing Nerds hope to see you this year at Pikunikkucon! If you can’t make it, be sure to check out our Facebook page for event coverage!


Written by: Darling Otaku

Moonie. Aspires to become a unicorn. Married to Mr. Dashing himself. YA Fantasy Writing Blog:

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