GenCon General

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Hey y'all, this is probably way out of place for this thread, feel free to move it if I'm totally wrong.
I am considering going to GenCon this year, but m only real experience with RPGs is that I started DMing D&D 3.5 about a year ago. I really enjoy it, and I definitely want to get more involved in the hobby but...
I'm not sure if I'm going to be out-of-place culture shocked if I go to GenCon. I get the impression that it's an event more revolving around the hardcore fans, which I don't have the luxury of self-proclaiming myself to be.
I'm attending ComicCon this summer with a friend, so I'm not opposed to spending the money, although I know for a fact that if I did go to GenCon it would be on my own.
I'm scanned the interwebs for information on the topic, but I still am not quite sure what all GenCon has to offer. Are there open games at all times? What kind of merchandise is sold there? Are there panels and if yes, what are they about?
So! Is GenCon worth much for an RPG newb? Has anybody gone to it solo/any thoughful advice? Basically GenCon general: convince me why I should or should not go.
Currently DMing a 3.5e AoW game one night a week. Players are almost through Three Faces of Evil. If you are considering beginning this campaign using this edition, I can help.