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Chicago Fest: The More Things Change...
[Posted by Jude Kessler on Sunday, 08/16/09 3:04 pm] [Full Blog] [Related Posts] [Tweet] [Facebook]

Day Three at the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans: the skies are grey and overcast in the windy city, but spirits are still "happy just to dance" to another, final day of Beatles' music. Already, I'm getting a little misty-eyed about leaving my Beatle buddies. And I'm beginning to reminisce over the events of the past few days.

Some things at Mark and Carol Lapidos's Fest never change. Like them. Year in and year out, they are kind, loving, and wonderful hosts. Yes, they make a living with these events, but you can tell that they do it out of sincere the love for The Beatles, not for mercenary motivations. They rock.

Me, Joe Johnson and Donnie G

Then, there's the iconic presence of Joe Johnson and his "Breakfast with The Beatles" roving-reporter-on-the-scene interviews. Joe, and his PR expert, Donnie G, have been doing these shindigs for years. But they're not a bit jaded. They still sparkle as they give Beatles trivia, meet fans from all over the United States, and spend time with new authors like me who really need their reviews. Like many DJ's, who promise reviews (and take multiple complimentary review copies) but then never do a thing in return, Joe never fails to help. He is one of the good guys.

And there's Chicago's own Terri Hemmert, the Fest's MC. Unlike other renowned hosts who barely have time to say a legitimate "hello," Terri greets everyone with warm hugs. She listens to children and adults with the same intensity. She laughs without reserve. She enjoys hosting this event with every fiber in her being. Terri is genuine...and beloved by everyone in the hotel and far beyond.

Terri Hemmert and yours truly

And then, there's the Fest staff: young people who were born long after the Beatles broke up, but who dance in the aisles of the Marketplace as the music plays, who know all the words to every song, and who exude the kind of Beatles positive spirit that makes this all work, forty-five years after the fact.

For all of these people, it's easy to drive across country and work in a booth for eleven hour stints. It easy to want to do a good job for them. It's easy to love being at their Fests.

There will be some surprises today, for sure. (Who would've envisioned Greg Hawkes singing "Something" to a ukulele last evening?) But the parts I'll enjoy the most as we wrap up this wonderful weekend at the Chicago Fest '09 are the elements that will stay the same.

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