It is hard to believe that we are here, in Mankato - Deep Valley - Minnesota, "breathing the air these characters breathed, walking the streets they walked" as tonight's keynote speaker Kathy Baxter said, but we are! My sister and my 7 month old and I arrived in Minneapolis around noonish. After getting our rental car we decided to leave touring Maud Hart Lovelace's homes to Monday and we headed south to Mankato. We had one stopover at Culver's for lunch, whose sign which reads: "Frozen Custard Butterburgers" had us too intrigued not to stop. Lucikly the twitterverse and my facebook friends set us right, and we realized that "frozen custard butterburgers" is not one thing, but two. Phew. I had a burger, fries and root beer float, and the cheese curds. But they weren't like as good as the cheese curds my boss and author Mike Perry have given me in the past, and I was sorry about that.
We arrived in Mankato at about 4, and after diva-ishly changing hotels (sorry, but I need a window that opens to the outside world not to an enclosed pool, and the thought of smelling chlorine for 3 days was more than either one of us could take), we started to meet fellow Betsy-Tacy fans! It was so much fun, especially meeting so many people I've gotten to know only via email, twitter and facebook for the past 6 months. We got ourselves registered, and--sort of Harry Potter style--reached into a bag to pick out a ribbon to determine which "house" we're playing for for the weekend. I was thrilled to pick Zetamathian. My sister, not so lucky, drew Philomathian. But then, Joe was a Philo, so it's not all bad. We then perused the extemely appealing Betsy-Tacy swag provided by the Betsy-Tacy Society and filled out our order forms. What we ordered tonight will be magically delivered tomorrow. The picture here is of the t-shirt and tote bag my sister smartly ordered before the convention, plus the t-shirt I scored fom the BTS tonight. Tomorrow we'll all be outfitted (onesie for the baby too!) in style. Miss Mix would be proud (well, after she rolled over in her grave at how unladylike t-shirts are).
Anywho, the evening's festivities started off with an extremely entertaining (no matter what Barb says) presentation about how to read our agendas, our tickets and where we need to catch the bus for our various trips. After that, the convention was officially kicked off in grand style by Kathy Baxter who gave an absolutely fabulous speech about her love for the books and her quest, from a very young age, to hunt out Maud Hart Lovelace and all the people and locations depicted in the books. She had the room oohing and aahing at her photos and her stories of her correspondence with Maud, her daughter Merian, the real-life Carney and Cab. She was fantastic (and sets the bar high for all future presenters here at the conference, and that includes me--yikes).
After Kathy's talk we all participated in an icebreaker. We were presented with a list of questions about the books which we each filled out. We then had to go around the room to find other fans who had answered the questions the same way, and thus we met a whole bunch of people really quickly. (It was at this point that various fellow fans absconded with my baby girl). A sampling of the questions we had to answer are below. I can tell you I was really excited to find someone else who also wanted to taste welsh rarebit and that it was with some urgency that I found myself walking around saying aloud to anyone who would listen "Did anyone else want to wear Betsy's jade bracelets?!" The favorite Cox Military slang, from my completely impartial poll would be "Curses Jack Dalton! Give me the child."
All these festivities, and the fact that it is an hour later in our time zone, finally took the toll on the baby, so we retired to our room for some room service, and well, blogging.
Tomorrow we rise pretty early (and I'm such a Julia, and long to sleep in). After a Ray family-style breakfast (there had better be MUFFINS), we're off to tour Betsy's (Maud's) and Tacy's (Bick's) childhood homes which are being restored and preserved by the Betsy-Tacy Society. We'll enjoy a picnic lunch and then a tour of Mankato/Deep Valley sites from the books.
Need to get some sleep now, will report more tomorrow. Here are a sampling of the Official Ice-Breaker Questions. How would you answer them? I'll pick one person from all who answer them by midnight on Monday the 20th and they will win the three new Betsy-Tacy reissues of Heaven to Betsy through Betsy's Wedding when they come out at the end of September! (US and Canada only please).
Favorite Crowd Girl besides Betsy
Favorite Crowd Boy
Character You Dislike the Most
Food You Most Want to Taste
Tony or Joe?
Incident that Always Make You Cry
Event You'd Most Like to Attend
Character Who Makes You Swoon
Clothing Item of Betsy's You'd Like to Own
Favorite Cox Military Slang