Judith Kristen, author of “A Date With a Beatle,” was at the three-day Fest for Beatles Fans that concluded Sunday and she told Beatles Examiner it was a great show, starting with Friday, when it all began. “Opening day was surprisingly busy, much more than normal, which is a very good sign that Beatlemania is still alive and well for all of us,” she said. “Fans came from as far north as Montreal, as far west as Seattle, and as sweet and southern as New Orleans itself, and then, of course, even four fans direct from the UK. The crowd spanned five generations: Four-year-old twin boys from Sharon, Connecticut, to lovely 87-year-old Marie Cullen from just outside Yonkers. Vendor tables were overflowing with Fab gear — Beatle books and Beatle buttons, cherished collectible albums refrigerator magnets, sweatshirts, and vintage, mint condition 1964 Beatle dolls.”
She said the guest list included Billy J. Kramer, Peter Asher, Chad and Jeremy, Mark Hudson, Mark Rivera, The Searchers’ Mike Pender, among others. Also there was Ringo’s personal photographer Rob Shanahan,Vivek Tiwary of “The Fifth Beatle” production, authors David Bedford, Jude Kessler, Bruce Spizer and “every Beatles fan favorite, the lovely Louise Harrison,” George’s sister. The emcee for the event was DJ Ken Dashow.
Day two was “as if a 33 1/3 record had jumped to 75 RPM,” she said, and the crowd was fun, excited, happy and Beatle-y. And there were those dressed as Beatles, both in early costumes and Sgt. Pepper outfits, along with Mod girls and Teddy Boys and even a few in tie dye. She said the gratitude wall where fans come to show their appreciation was full of comments.
There were also many different sights and activities. This year also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles album “Revolver.” Fest regulars Liverpool performed the first side of the album on Saturday followed by side two on Sunday. “It was a stunner,” she said. There was a Beatles museum and art contest, a “Little Child” activity room (where she read her collaboration with Eric Cash, “Once Upon a Time in Liverpool”) Beatles Yoga and transcendental meditation, and the FABoratory, which she said, is a great experience.
There was a celebrity art room with signed lithos from Paul McCartney and a variety of John Lennon’s artwork. Artist Eric Cash revealed his “Mendips” drawing, which showed a 17-year-old John Lennon sitting on his bed at his Mendips home, guitar in hand. Susan Ryan’s two women’s panels, “The Beatles Multi-Generational Fandom” and “A Celebration of George Martin” drew a very large, diverse, and interesting crowd, she said. There was also “Joking with a Bunch of Scousers” with Louise Harrison, Billy J. Kramer, author (and unofficial mayor of Liverpool) David Bedford and Mike Pender of The Searchers. And Al Sussman, Ken Michaels, Tom Frangione, and Darren DeVivo did a live version of the “Things We Said Today” radio show. Many authors, Jude Kessler, Vivek Tiwary, David Bedford, Chuck Gunderson, Candy Leonard, Anthony Robustelli and Kit O’Toole, just to name a few, regaled the crowds with their own stories. And she said the marketplace had loads of Beatle goodies. “It was beyond a Beatle collector’s dream!”
But, she said, “as it always is, was, and will be, it was about the music! And it was stellar. Fan favorites dazzled the crowd and we all sang along, no one missed one word to any lyrics! Talk about devotion.” She said Peter Asher, Chad and Jeremy, Mark Rivera, Mike Pender, Billy J. Kramer, and Mark Hudson “knocked everyone’s socks off” as people sang along, twisted and shouted along. “It was just what you would hope a Beatles Fest would be. It was magic.”
“You hate to see it all end,” she said, “but the three days flew by far too fast. This is a magical event, I guess it’s just the best way to put it. It just doesn’t get any better than that!” The next Fest will be Aug. 12-14 at the O’Hare Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois.