Winterfest (Beauty and the Beast fan gatherings)
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It takes its name from the gathering of the same name that the Tunnel Dwellers who lived Below celebrated.
I thought some of you might be interested in a report from one of the many Winterfests held across the country this month. This one was sponsored by the Chesapeake Helpers' Society for Beauty and the Beast and it was held on January 12, 1991 in a VFW hall in Annapolis, Maryland.
There were 13 large round tables in the room, each with a lovely centerpiece made of a wood and glass votive candle holder mounted on a slate slab, with one white and one red silk rose on the slab as well. These centerpieces were won by one person at each table before the evening was over. Everyone who came found at their place two favors: a candle in traditional Winterfest colors and a red silk rose with a tag attached which bore the club logo with the words "WINTERFEST 1991” below it. In the back of the room there was art on display, including one of Robert Guttke's statues, and Sally Newman was kind enough to bring the Beauty and the Beast International Quilt for display, In the front of the room on a raised platform was a full-sized reproduction of Vincent's chamber, complete with "rock" walls made from crumpled up spray painted brown paper (amazingly effective), pipes made from spray painted cardboard tubes, a "steel” girder (also cardboard, with aluminum studs for bolts), a stained glass window made from posterboard and tissue paper (looks VERY convincing when backlit!), lamps and lanterns, books, a bed, tables, books, a chair, trunks, books, bookshelves, oriental carpets, a tea pot, books, a chess set and all manner of appropriate props. (Did I mention books?) To complete the illusion there was a tape player hidden in the set which played a continuous loop tape of pipe tapping recorded from the show. I wished John Mansbridge could have seen that set; it looked great!
We began with the traditional Winterfest opening and spent the evening engaged in a variety of activities. A sound system provided lovely music throughout the evening and we ate a wonderful meal (topped with a giant birthday cake for Vincent!) There were two sets of out-loud poetry readings; both pieces already familiar to fans of the show and pieces that were not used on the show were read and well-received. "Jabberwocky", read in a round by four people, was particularly a hit. Linda Helnick sang some folk songs for us and Sally Newman spoke about the quilt.
On the lighter side, "Beast Bingo” proved to be a big hit; everyone wanted to keep playing even after three people got "BINGO” and we had no more bingo prizes to give! There were, of course, a lot of fun photo opportunities with Lisa Gould (our local Vincent) on the set. We also tried a different sort of trivia quiz — 10 photos taken from various episodes off of a television set were displayed and contestants were challenged to identify the episode each photo was from. Throughout the evening we polled for words to fill in the blanks on a "Beauty and the Beast Madlib" and had the results read out loud towards the end of the evening when it was met with much laughter. Much of the evening, a television set running videos to one side of the room consistently drew a crowd. There were lots of prizes given away in the course of the event; for the bingo game, the trivia quiz, the table centerpieces and several door prizes. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time; I know I sure did!!!
Our group had the good fortune of being featured in a Washington Post article about local fan clubs in December. We received quite a few inquiries about the club as a result and our Winterfest attendance was boosted as well. About 86 people attended Winterfest. As a result of its success and the Post article, our membership has reached 68, with more people showing interest all the time. We are, of course, delighted to find new folks who share our love for the tunnel world and make them our friends.We collected quite a bit of canned goods and used clothing for a local soup kitchen and gave them the bed from Vincent's chamber as well! The final tallies have not been done, but it looks as if we've collected about $400 to donate to the Prince George's County Literacy Society as a result of Winterfest. It gave us a great sense of accomplishment and we hope next year's will be just as good. We all felt it was definitely worth the four months of preparation! 
- from Once Upon a Time... Is Now #30 ()