Hundreds of reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and small exotic creatures will be making an appearance in Columbia Jan. 23 and 24 at the Jamil Shrine Center. This will be the first of three Repticons planned for Columbia in 2021.

The event is family-friendly, offering guests the opportunity to learn about animals not always seen in local pet stores. Event-goers can shop for a new pet and find all the accompanying supplies needed for its "home." According to the Repticon's website, there will be merchandise, cages, supplies, both live and frozen feeders, as well as people available to provide expert advice about caring for a new reptile.

Many vendors will allow live interactions with the pets during visits to their booth. There will also be seminars throughout the event on animal-related topics by experts in the field of herpetology.

Tickets will not be available at the door this year due to COVID precautions. Those interested must pre-purchase tickets for one of three time frames (9 to 11 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., or 2 to 4 p.m.) at repticon.com/south-carolina/columbia. One-day admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for kids 4 and under.

While the Repticon is taking place inside the venue Saturday, the Jamil Shriners will be hosting a food truck jamboree on the lawn from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. According to Shriner Jeff Snipes, there will be food from the Jamil Food Truck, Billy G's Carolina BBQ, Crab Shack and Jordan's Catering. Beer will also be available for purchase.

There is no charge for parking at the center for the Repticon or the Food Truck Jamboree, but Snipes said parking attendants will be accepting donations for the Greenville Shriners Hospital.

The Jamil Shrine Center is located at 206 Jamil Rd. The other 2021 Columbia Repticons are currently scheduled for May 1 and 2, and Nov. 6 and 7.

NOTE: Representatives from the World Animal Protection organization reached out to Cola Daily advising against human interaction with reptiles. According to their representatives, anyone interested in attending the event should be aware that the animals can carry diseases.

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