Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dark Shadows Festival Banquet

Those of us who'd watched the Collinsports Players show milled out of the banquet room. Most of the hall had cleared; it was suppertime or at least time to get ready for it, a big break in the proceedings any way you looked at it. I headed back to the room, and was a bit surprised that I was the only one there. Okay, so maybe I was just the first one back. I was pretty sure everyone else in the room had at least something to do with the banquet festivities.
Time for the climax of the weekend. So I got all gussied up. Cleaned up good, took my time...changed into my smart duds. I'd borrowed a dark wine dressy pants-suit thing with an Indian motif from my sister (it was easy to pack). New shoes, to my annoyance, had a blemish straight out of the box (melted on the trip or something weird) but, not much to do for it, and who'd be looking anyway. Wore an Indian necklace and fixed up my hair, and ta da. Waited. Waited. Looked for weather news on the telly. Colored. Strange, no one else coming. Surely they wouldn't eat before the banquet, would they? Maybe. Anyway, plenty of time to kick back and listen to my stomach growl and feet whine.
Malia came in close to time when the banquet was to start. I think they had pushed the time back a little; late in getting things organized, so it still wasn't anything to rush about. Having nothing else to do, I went on to scout. Malia said she'd follow later. I still wondered what was going on, exactly. Sherlock is always curious.
I headed over to the hall and there was a line. I saw Julie there; she explained that it was a handicapped-folks line, essentially, and everyone else was supposed to wait outside somewhere. I wasn't in any rush to get in line or anything, I was just wandering around finding out what was what and people-watching. Julie bust a blister on her foot and was hobbling and said that warranted her spot. I could empathize, with my own flat feets hissing at me, but I just sat nearby and chatted. I gathered there'd been several changes in arrangements and organization, and sat back and observed things. The group in line was finally allowed in. One lady was rather hysterical since her friend had gone in already but had her ticket; another lady had some similar problem. Emotional group. I'd noted that all weekend. JF certainly stirs up peoples' passionate sides, and I've been to a great many conventions and celebrity events. Not too many of those have had people quite so emotional. Anyway I think everyone was allowed in, that I saw.

They started letting the outside folks in through the side, so I went in after the first group in the back, and edged toward the front. The whole room was back-to-back round tables. It was utterly amazing how many there were, and I wondered how on earth people would be able to move once they got settled. Front tables were taped off and numerous seats filled up fast. I saw no one but Julie that I knew, and she seemed to have a full table anyway. Flashing on my original prediction that I'd pay a mint to sit alone and eat 2000 miles from home, I sought out a place to sit. I wound up in the front-middle of the room, more-or-less; about as close to anything as I could get anyway. So I sat with a couple at table 33.

A few more sat, a teacher, a few kids.
We all admired the table settings and fidgeted awhile.
Attempts at some chitchat were made but it was
rather awkward for the most part,
and very hard to hear anyone for all the
people coming in.
So, much more observing.
I wasn't exactly in a good position to see the
stage-part of the room, though. This is what I saw.
Glasses of water, coffee cups, silverware, coffee stuff, a roll and pat of butter, linen napkins and a candle...each table had 11-13 chairs around it (apparently we were to eat with our chins, since a full table had no elbow room), and we estimated about 80-some tables in the room. PeoplePeoplePeople, and still people came in. My mind started reeling over logistics. The waitstaff began serving, and had a devil of a time doing it since they could not get through the areas where the tables had filled out. No aisles had been created for them, and there was much bumping and could-you-move-pleases, although they were impressive in getting the food out, considering the situation.
It was all very pretty, a fancy chicken dish and garlicky potatoes (can you have that in an event celebrating a vampire?), seems like there were some steamed greenbeans or something interesting, and it did start out with an intriguing little salad that had some ingredient that a lot of folks couldn't identify. Mostly the men refused to eat it, which I got a chuckle out of. I think it was a kind of mushroom. That one little roll, some wine I think, coffee, then a pretty slice of NY cheesecake. It all came rather fast once it came, and was tasty, and I was definitely stuffed all the same, to my surprise.
It occurred to me, in the given situation, Jonathan would almost have had to have eaten before the banquet...this was a little crazy. Which probably explained where the rest of the roomies went, etc. I wondered how he was going to be able to sign pictures, or even how they were going to handle that promised aspect of the event...the numbers versus the time seemed too staggering to me. Hopefully they'd all worked something out and I was seeing problems where there were none.
After eating and waiting,
I finally got out the camera
and started snapping a shot or two.
Turning around (which took some doing)
I could just see the stage.

There were a few things passed around as bonus extras, like calendars, I believe. When most people had eaten or at least been served, and da Man had arrived, tributes began. Dark Shadows Folk gave little speeches to honor Jonathan Frid.

Katherine Leigh Scott started things off, I think. I played more with my camera. Mostly just looking through it and fiddling with buttons, though. Telephoto in candlelight isn't really conducive to sharp shots, but some photographs turned out better than others.

Headshot of KLS. I'm jealous of the figure. Mrph. But then, I never had one to start with. (Well, I guess "sausage" is a shape, too.)

Then Marie Wallace added some nice things. Jonathan had quite a turn-out, indeed. Finally picked out someone else I could (somewhat) recognize, from my viewpoint. This is Mark, Jonathan's webmaster du jour. And finally they gave John a chance to respond to all that gushing. There was also a nifty video tribute and other bonuses. Enjoyed the video...

Before and after much of this, Jonathan was apparently back in a corner signing his fingers off. Table-groups were led one-by-one to line up over on the far left side of the stage area to get JF's autograph. Bobbi and others were herding people into the right spots as other things kept going. Here's a Dark Shadows person whose name and job I managed to miss (sorry!). But part of the kudos-giving gang for Jonathan.

Diana Millay was at a table nearby.

Door prizes were awarded. Fun was had. But our table was about one-third into the room and not near being called up for signings, and it was getting pretty late. I could see that either Jonathan was capable of far greater endurance than I would have dreamed, or that very soon a lot of people were going to be disappointed. This aspect was not planned out well. I could see DSF '93 coming back to haunt me, where I went through the entire con and didn't see JF, and waited in the autograph line for hours only to have him throw in the pen a few people before I got up to bat. So to speak.

But Bobbi came by and said "TABLE 33!" Our time to line up. Well, well, maybe I'd get to say howdy at the con after all. So we gathered our things and got into the autograph line to the side, getting ready for our minute with the big guy. We stood, and stood, and stood some more. I wished I hadn't taken my bookbag...had my drawing junk in it so it was heavy. Got around the corner and noted that most of the people I Did know had tables up here, including my roomies. Sigh. I chatted with one or two while in line. Waited some more. Memorabilia stuff was being auctioned off, I think, on stage. About at the point I could finally see JF, I noticed some bad signs; namely a tired nervousness, then a pause where JF called in his aides for a huddle, and then Jim heading towards the mike. Uh oh, this is it. I'm about 2-3 people from the autograph table...

And yep, Jim announced that sadly JF had to call it quits for the night. Dang. Not at all a surprise to me, though it did hit a lot of others unhappily. So, um, now what, we in line wondered...was he going to finish the line or announce something more or what? We waited around awkwardly. Then it came that if autographs were needed, he'd do them later and mail them back (arrangements would be made) or he'd try to do some more in the morning before heading back to Canada. That was it. We stood about a little more, if only because it was a bit difficult to back out until others did, and then most headed out the banquet room, in dribs and drabs.

I went back to the room, de-gussied myself (gee, all that dress-effort and no one saw) and began packing, organizing, figuring out what to do next, etc. I still didn't know where on earth my cooler apparently did not manage to follow me back to the room at any point. But I made a number of trips to the car so I wouldn't have to do so much in the morning. I made one round back to the hall much later and ran into KLS just enough to say hi; both of us making a cursory check that things weren't left, I guess. I never did hear anything about the "flood" in San Antonio (even when I got back). Hmm. Eventually I showered and got comfy working a puzzle and others ambled in and at some point, we called it a night.

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