For Jaya Lyons, the Wauchope Cosplay Festival that is being held this Saturday (August 6) couldn't come soon enough.
Miss Lyons is one of the many in the Port Macquarie Hastings region expected to attend the festival and has been preparing her costume since April this year.
"There's a lot of pressure to have it done because I want to have it to go to the event," she said.
"It was a fun experience because I've been posting my pictures online and that's gained some traction and it's just a positive feeling."
As part of her costume, the year 11 Hastings Secondary College student has been preparing a life-size model of Sonic the Hedgehog character Shadow and posting her progress on TikTok.
Her videos have amassed her a following of 32.5 thousand on the app.
But despite the support from online communities, there are less opportunities available to connect with like-minded creatives in person.
"I feel like for younger kids who like this stuff, it's unfortunate for them because all of these bigger events are in bigger cities," said Miss Lyons.
"It's nice to have these cosplay events in smaller areas."
The cosplay festival designed by Headspace Port Macquarie and the Hastings Community Drug Action Team (HCDAT) seeks to connect young people, their friends, family members and Cosplay lovers alike.
Headspace Community Engagement Coordinator and festival organiser Jules Jamieson said she hoped the festival will nurture self-expression and inspire motivation.
"We have found the compounding effects of COVID-19, floods and the rising cost of living are affecting everyone's mental health- particularly families."
"The first step in rectifying the impacts of these is to offer something exciting and out of the ordinary, to bring people together."
For Miss Lyons, it's an opportunity to connect with like-minded people.
"I've always struggled with having friends and finding people who like the same stuff with art and cosplaying in my area so it's nice to have a whole event where you can find these people," she said.
"It'd be nice to have more people in my area to like the same stuff because it'd be nice."
The event was chosen to be held in Wauchope as it is central to outlying areas.
"There's a real need to bring events to different area in the LGA, and collectively we decided that Wauchope would be a great place to host the event," Ms Jamieson said.
HCDAT member and volunteer Virginia Cox who is coordinating the festival alongside Headspace said she is proud to bring the event to Wauchope.
"Wauchope [doesn't] get a lot of big events so I am glad I can bring my creativity and flair to the area," she said.
Starting at 10am at the Wauchope Library precinct, the festival will included a variety of workshops and entertainment.
Creative reuse centre The Reverse Garbage crew are travelling from Sydney to offer free mask making workshops while artist Matt Lin will be also be attending to offer a manga art workshop.
Other activities include a spiderman stunt show, free haircuts, local live music and much more.
But what Miss Lyons is looking forward to most is seeing the other cosplayers in the cosplay parade.
"I like getting photos taken and seeing all the other cosplayers."
"I just feel like it's a great way of expressing yourself."
The Wauchope Cosplay Festival will be held on Saturday August 6 from 10am to 4pm at the Wauchope Library Precinct. Further details for the event can be found on the Headspace website.
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