MJ Fans Trickle into First Ever Fanvention

Joe Jackson is expected to attend cake cutting ceremony at tribute

By Ivanna Hampton
|  Friday, Aug 27, 2010  |  Updated 7:24 AM CDT
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NW Indiana the next Graceland?

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Michael Jackson |
No, the singer hasn't risen from the dead. But you can catch a special tribute to the King of Pop featuring several dance troops at the Fun Time stage June 25 at 3 p.m.

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Michael Jackson's most loyal Midwestern fans are celebrating the life and legacy of the King of Pop native state this weekend.

But the turnout for the first ever "MJ Fanvention", taking place at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville, Indiana through Sunday, is less than stellar.

As of Friday morning, fewer than 100 people hadregistered for the four-day event. The event's organizer hope northwest Indiana will turn into a mini-Graceland, and become a tourist destination.

"We're hoping this event will begin to inspire what Elvis has done in Memphis, Tennessee," said Don Thompson, the event's organizer. "That it becomes the nucleus of people coming together, carrying out the legacy of Michael Jackson his humanitarianism and his philanthropic interests in that regard."

The relatively few number of fans that do plan to attend can jam at a Friday Night Dance Party, watch a tribute Thriller concert Saturday and participate in a birthdaycake contest Sunday.

Joe Jackson, the singer's father, is reportedly scheduled to attend the cake cutting ceremony.

Jennifer Batten, a guitarist who toured with Jackson between 1987 and 1997, attended the welcome reception Thursday, the Northwest Indiana Times reports.

Batten called performing with the King of Pop during the "Bad," "Dangerous" and History" tours "a paid vacation."

"It was nothing but fun," she said.

The event runs until Sunday in Merrillville.

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