When an enthusiastic person in an eye-catching costume shows up to an event in central Ohio, Adam Bonner likely is involved.
He is one of the organizers for Columbus DinoFest this weekend in Hilliard. It is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, 4100 Columbia St.
Bonner, a Thomas Worthington High School alumnus, has been a mainstay in the mascot game for 20 years, beginning as a TV-station intern given the choice between working in a frog costume or handing out pencils at events.
He chose the frog costume.
Early in his career, he worked as characters ranging from Donald Duck to Scooby-Doo, making stops at Six Flags and Warner Bros. Studio Stores along the way.
In 2003, Bonner and his partner, Matt Brady, decided they could go further. They had experience in costumes and had become de facto organizers of events.
They founded the Mascot Organization LLC -- or Mascot Org, for short -- in Worthington to help streamline the process for others in the same business. Bonner called it a simple attempt to add "just a little extra income on the side."
But the pair quickly found themselves with a burgeoning business because they offered a service most independent mascot performers didn't. By 2008, they had added costume management, cleaning and repairs so performers could avoid using dilapidated equipment.
Bonner's longtime work with the Columbus Clippers meant that he helped develop their mascots -- he's still in the Krash costume for every home game -- with the team's staff.
"He's been great to work with," said Steve Kuilder, the Clippers' director of promotions and in-game entertainment. "He gets the game of baseball, so that's great. He knows the pace of play. Some games aren't as great as others -- we might be winning by 10 or losing 10-1 or it's a one-run game."
Bonner and Brady have built an impressive resume, expanding to a small office in Wilmington, Delaware, and running events across the country with a rapidly growing freelancer base and a collection of more than 1,000 costumes.
When President Donald Trump's staff members had to plan his administration's first Easter event on the White House lawn last month, they called Mascot Org.
"It's been a neat adventure," Bonner said.
Now Mascot Org is expanding into holding standalone events that Bonner hopes not only will extend its own reach, but also help the community.
Their first event is this weekend's Columbus DinoFest, and it will utilize the company's massive stock of dinosaur costumes, props and decorations.
Performers in dinosaur costumes, which will range from realistic to cartoonish -- allowing anyone with frightened children to pick the environment that suits them best -- will entertain the crowd.
The event also will feature a seat-rumbling screening of "Jurassic Park," a "dinosaur hunt" in which guests shoot foam darts at costumed dinos and fossils from the Ohio State University's collection.
The fossil collection has a Worthington tie through a group called Dough for Dino.
Ohio State's Orton Geological Museum recently conducted a crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to secure $80,000 to bring a skeletal cast of a dinosaur to the museum, and a Worthington resident and her children have been rallying support.
Erin Strouse said she founded Dough for Dino after her children became infatuated with dinosaurs during a visit to Orton and decided they wanted to help with the campaign.
She said Dough for Dino supporters would attend Columbus DinoFest and pass out dinosaur-themed treats near the Orton fossil exhibit. They also will accept donations to the museum and provide information about fundraising events.
"We think (the museum) offers such a great service to our community, so we're happy to give back and tell other interested families about the museum's campaign for a 25-foot-long dinosaur skeleton, Cryolophosaurus ellioti (discovered by and named for (Ohio State) geology professor David Elliot in Antarctica in 1991)," Strouse said in an email.
Although the crowdfunding campaign ended at almost $50,000 raised, people still are able to donate to the project at giveto.osu.edu/makeagift, she said. Donors can find the Orton fund by searching for its number, 308759.
Strouse said Dough for Dino has raised nearly $1,000 for the campaign through its Facebook page and help from central Ohio families and businesses.
"It's a legacy these kids will help leave for years to come and many people to enjoy," she said.
If Columbus DinoFest goes well, Bonner hopes to begin partnering with local charities and other organizations to schedule more.
He's hoping to use Columbus-based companies for the entire production.
"Our goal is not to become rich from these, but to bring opportunities to our profession, local artists, charities and anyone else who could be involved," he said.
For more information, visit dinofestcolumbus.com or mascot.org.