I learned from this trip that they
call Vermont the “Green Mountain State” and they aren’t kidding. The ten-hour
train ride up to Burlington was filled with lots of trees, mountains and
beautiful little towns complete with white, country churches. I arrived at
the Wyndham hotel late Wednesday night. In the dark, I couldn’t tell what I
was looking at from the hotel room window, but when I woke on Thursday morning
and opened the drapes I was stunned by the beautiful view of Lake Champlain!
A bit later on I went exploring on my own and found the Burlington Town Center
shopping mall and the Church Street Marketplace. The atmosphere at the
Marketplace was so wonderful. It is an outdoor shopping area with
restaurants, a fountain, vendor carts, and great little specialty shops. I
wasted no time spending some money at a Vermont shop. My T-Shirt proclaims
Burlington, Vermont as the “West Coast of New England”!
When I got
back to the hotel that afternoon, my roommates were arriving and that evening
a group of B&B fans enjoyed a great Mexican dinner at a place near the lake
called Roque’s. While waiting to be seated we wondered at the two
statues of flying monkeys on the roof of the nearby building, and found out
that they were sort of the city’s mascots…but we’re not in Kansas (City)
morning the festivities started with a continental breakfast, registration and
opening ceremonies. We had a wonderful new slide show, “Joe’s fantasy” by Deb
Fowler. The first activity was a round of Beast Bingo. The Orphan Table was
larger this year and filled with both new and used items. The con key chains
were just beautiful with the con logo on one side and a gorgeous watercolor
rose on the other. I bought a few to give as souvenir gifts to friends. I
also found some older items that I never got years ago, like a miniature
Vincent puzzle and Vincent memo board, both still in their original cellophane
and just a few dollars each. I also found an older B&B t-shirt and a San
Francisco con shirt that I did not have.
On one side
of the Orphan Table was a display of Marilyn Howard’s impressive collection of
Beauty and the Beast books. Some of them I have in paperback form, but here
was a chance to see the beautiful hard covers. Some I had never seen before
and was very happy to see that an extensive list of B&B themed books was
included in everyone’s tote bag. This list will be a very good reference for
me since I love to collect B&B themed stories in any form and compare them to
lunch break, was a Romantic Stamping workshop with Karen Q. Card making is an
extension of scrapbooking, which I love, and Karen has some beautiful rubber
stamps, including a beautiful carousel horse. This was a lot of fun.
Next on the
agenda was an autograph party. Since we had no celebrities, we collected each
other’s autographs because we are all stars to each other! People signed
mostly each other’s con ‘zines or con posters and it was really a very neat
There was a
delicious Italian buffet that evening and then a break to prepare for the
costume party. I had prepared a special costume, inspired by a Mardi Gras
mask that a co-worker had brought me from her trip to New Orleans earlier this
year. The mask has black and purple feathers and I had a purple wig and a
light up “crystal” necklace. I call it “Catherine’s Mardi Gras Outfit,” for
her “Masques” outfit doesn’t seem appropriate for accompanying Vincent should
they ever visit New Orleans together - where he could no doubt walk around as
freely as he does on Halloween.
The other costumes that I remember were J’Ecris as a black bear and Rene Long
and Lisa Gould as the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion, respectively.
We then had
refreshments in the form of a Vermont Apple bar, which consisted of apple
crisp, ice cream, apple bread, apples and drinks. The apple bread was very
good. The final event was a round of “Pin the (rose pouch/dangly bit) on
Vincent” which once again brought a lot of laughs to finish out the night.
started with another continental breakfast followed by Chandler’s Craft
Project. This year we took part in a drawing exercise. There was a mystery
drawing cut into puzzle pieces. Each person was given one puzzle piece and
one piece that was an exact enlargement of their smaller piece. Our job was
to transfer the smaller piece to the larger one. No one knew what they were
looking at; the point was to concentrate on drawing only shapes, tones and
textures. When they were all done they were put together and we saw that we
were actually reproducing one of Chan’s Vincents.
There was a
Future Con discussion later that morning. We learned that the Denver con will
be held in a hotel, appropriately enough, called The Red Lion. The promotion
video that was shown was so cute! The hotel’s mascot, a stuffed lion, took us
on a tour of the facilities. We were told that the first 50 people to
register will received a free Red Lion in their tote bag! A lot a people, like
me, were ready to register that day.
ahead to the 20th anniversary in 2007 – Rosie Badget and I led a
discussion to finalize plans. After a vote by silent ballot it was decided
that the 2007 con would be held in Los Angles and the 2008 con in New Jersey.
My idea was to call the anniversary con “A Life Without Limits” – it seems so
appropriate – and that name will be used for both cons - ALWL II being the
name of the NJ con. I thought it was a good discussion and we all gained a
lot of insight. My main concern was for whatever would be best for Fandom and
I think that is what prevailed.
afternoon we had “The Wreck of my Memories trivia contest. These were very
difficult questions. The “Most Correct” prize went to Linda from Hawaii and
the prize for the fewest correct went to Deb. We colored Catherine’s rose as
a follow up to last year’s Vincent’s window. Then it was time to prepare for
We had hors
d’oeuvres for an hour and then entered the banquet hall where we were met by
the intoxicating scent of roses. We had beautiful name cards that helped us
find our table. The centerpieces were so unusual. They were not just one
item but clusters of 3 or 4 separate items: a photograph of V&C in a silver
frame, a rose entwined votive lantern, a vase with red and white roses in it –
each table was slightly different and this allowed not just one, but several
people at each table to take home a portion of the centerpiece. Very unique
and immensely creative.
Lighting Ceremony was led by a video of Roy Dotrice reciting Father’s
Winterfest speech from another con. We were later read a letter that Roy sent
expressing his good wishes to con-goers. We were also given our own copy of
the letter in Roy’s handwriting to take home. Other favors from the evening
were little silver baskets with mints in them and clip-on silk roses in red or
food was delicious: from the roll and salad to the main course (for me the
perfectly prepared filet minion) and most and most of all the dessert, an ice
cream puff. It was a large pastry puff that would normally be filled with
cream or custard. But it was filled with Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough ice
cream. It was delicious and not too heavy. In my opinion the best banquet
entertainment consisted of an assortment of videos, including The Kiss Video.
There were some technical problems with the sound but we found that it is very
enjoyable to just sit in the darkened room with other fans and friends and
watch the outtakes without sound. You really notice things that you never had
before. Also, many of us know the dialog by heart anyway. There was a lot of
laughter and fun that made for a very enjoyable night.
with the Celebrity-less Brunch. The tables were decorated just beautifully
with framed photos of the celebrities – one at each table - and large gold
paper stars and gold star confetti. We also had little gold star votive
candles and V&C votive candles as favors. Also adorning the tables were
beautiful red and purple rose gel candles in tall glasses, which we could
purchase later on.
was another round of Beast Bingo followed by the Charity Auction. I got some
videos and audio books in the auction. I also got a “First Time I Loved
Forever” 45rpm record. It seemed no one else was interested in it, as it went
for an uncontested $5.00 - but I never had one and it just seemed to me like a
true B&B antique!
Next was the
Tunnel Tea Party and ‘zine reading. We had received beautiful handmade
invitations to this event in our tote bags courtesy of Karen Q. Now we enjoyed
tea party favorites like scones and finger sandwiches, cookies and tea. Then
we read aloud a story from the wonderful ‘zine, “A Garden in the Clouds.” We
had another showing of The Kiss Video, this time with the sound problem fixed
and another of Deb’s slide shows, a dedication to fans to the song
“Unforgettable.” The last of Judy’s beautiful gift baskets was raffled off
and to my surprise I got to take one home this year!
much too soon, as always, for the closing ceremonies but there was a lot of
contentment in knowing, as Judy mentioned, that we have a “home” for next
year. The candle was passed to Carol Kyne of the CO group.
was more fun to come that evening with the Lake Champlain dinner cruise. It
seemed to me the fastest three hours I’ve ever experienced. Dinner was
delicious and views of the lake were gorgeous - as we tried to catch a
glimpse of Champ – the rumored local version of the Loch Ness monster. After
dinner, I barely had time to hit the dance floor once when I realized that we
were pulling into the dock!
Monday couldn’t have been more delightful; it was a
whirlwind of great tours and “better than great” gift shops. Our first stop
was the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory, where we watched as chocolate Santa
Clauses were being made already for the Christmas season.
Next was the
Vermont Teddy Bear Factory, where several of us gave birth to bears that we
watch be stuffed and sewed up. We got to cut the “umbilical cord” and fill
out a birth certificate with the date, time of birth and the name of our
choice. Several of us also had t-shirts embroidered for our bears that read, “I
love Beauty & the Beast”. I don’t know if Vermont Teddy Bears are known
through out the country, but I have heard so much about them in my area that
this was the highlight of the day for me.
But the day
was far from over. I was surprised when it was announced that we were going
to Stowe to have lunch at the Trappe Family Lodge. It was a bit of a ride but
we were entertained with “Masques” playing on the bus monitors followed by a
third viewing of The Kiss Video. We ate at the Trappe Austrian Tea Room where
we sat outside on a deck with the most gorgeous view of the mountains behind
us. I had the most delicious chilled pineapple and coconut soup.
stop was the Ben & Jerry’s factory where we saw how they make the ice cream
and were able to taste two of their newest trial flavors, “Fossil Fuel”, which
has tiny chocolate dinosaurs in it and “Chocolate Therapy,” (which needs no
description). But my favorite is still cookie dough and I waited on a long
line for a cone and barely got back to the bus on time.
All of our tour guides for the day
were very good and very funny and all of the gift shops held wonderful
treasures that made shopping at least as much fun as anything else that I did
that weekend. I realized that Vermont is known for maple – syrup, sugar,
cookies, candy - you name it. I love maple and brought home quite a selection
of edible souvenirs for myself, as well as friends and family.
A big thank you is due to Karen
Q, Maranda, Judy and Marilyn for all their efforts- and to everyone who helped
to make it happen. It seems safe to say that a wonderful, fun filled,
excellent time was had by all who attended Catherine & Vincent’s Excellent