This was my first time at Beaglefest, the big annual gathering of the Peanuts Collector Club. If you’re looking for a full report on it, look elsewhere, as I was only there for a sliver of it; it ran from Thursday through Sunday, and I was only in town Friday evening to Saturday afternoon.
The first thing I did when getting into the area was not go to the event hotel in Rohnert Park, but drove the extra few minutes to Santa Rosa so that I could scope out Snoopy’s Gift Shop. I picked up a couple minor gifts for the two minors in my house (a snoopy shirt for her, a little stuffed Charlie Brown for him), just to make sure that I didn’t come home with my hands empty. I reckoned they’d be happy to see me after a couple days away, but I wanted to ensure it. The gift shop carries a Tapioca Pudding shirt, a personal favorite among the rarer Peanuts characters, but it wasn’t in a size that would fit anyone in my household, so I had to pass it up.
As I went to check out, I saw a basket of little Japanese Peanuts calculators. I had forgotten to bring my calculator, and given that I was going to be selling things and needing to calculate 8.5% sales tax for hours the next day, these seemed like just the trick.
This was not a wise decision. The calculator was attractively Peanutsy, no doubt, but it was a lousy calculator. I couldn’t get the memory system to call back the tax rate when needed, so I had to type it in time after time. The flat-panel buttons were tough to work, and sometimes you couldn’t tell that pressing the + hadn’t taken until you started to type the next number. The solar pick-up was weak, and it had trouble keeping the display going in the light of the hotel. I ended up ditching the calculator and using my brain instead whenever possible. There are many good Peanuts products, but the brand is no guarantee.
Friday night there was “room sales” – at perhaps a dozen rooms of the hotel, the door was propped open and you could wander in, look over the Peanuts items on display, and with a little haggling leave with something special. Now, I’m not a general Peanuts collector – I collect books, and I’ve already got most of what one is likely to see, so I only ended up buying one item, a kid’s meal toy of Linus and the tree from A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was $1, so I didn’t haggle. But I did get to see a lot of cool items!
Saturday morning, everyone gathered for a breakfast buffet and a meeting. The meeting started with door prizes (Peanuts stuff), the middle was an auction (Peanuts stuff), and the end was awarding of the centerpieces (stuffed Snoopys). Somewhere in the midst of all this were two speakers – Craig Schulz, the third of Sparky’s five children, talked about the WWII trainer airplane that they had at the airport, and ended up auctioning off a ride on it (well, when bids went higher than anyone expected, they offered up two rides.)
I was the other speaker. I’d prepared a twenty-minute talk about interesting and fun aspects of Peanuts books, with a couple hundred images to be projected from my laptop. The friendly organizer Kathy expressed concern – how was I going to work my laptop over at the projector stand when the microphone was at the podium a few yards away? Let me just say that anyone who has that concern has never heard me speak. My voice carries even when I try to be quiet. I suspect that everyone in the ballroom had an easier time hearing my than anyone who used the microphone.
Anyway, my talk, which included showing the entire contents of the upcoming Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking as well as shorter pitch versions of two Peanuts books I’ve been shopping around, went over well (phew! Because it was definitely one of those talks where if it’s not going well two minutes in, you’re looking at eighteen more dead minutes ahead.)
Next up was sales day, which means that all these attendees who had over the past couple days gone to two Peanuts gift shops, room sales, auction, door prizes, and whatever else was going on, now had a chance to buy more Peanuts stuff! I was selling The Peanuts Collection, as well as the Schulz books I publish: It’s Only a Game, Schulz’s Youth, Bridge Mix, and the premiering-at-Beaglefest God’s Children and The Zipper on My Bible is Stuck… as well as foreign language editions of a couple of these books, and a few non-Peanuts books I wrote. People bought some of almost everything, and almost all I had of some things, so it went well. The sales floor was open only to Beaglefest attendees for the first hour, and then was open to the general public for two hours… but towards the end, it got rather quiet, so I got to get up from my table and do shopping of my own.
My biggest score? A copy of a Peanuts book in Greek. These days, it’s fairly rare for me to add a new language to the AAUGH.com Reference Library, but Greek was one I didn’t have before. This 1979 paperback reuses the cover image from 1967’s Your Choice, Snoopy and the strips within overlap with that source, but each has strips that are not in the other. The onetime schoolteacher who sold it to me mentioned that none of her special needs students had ever noticed that it wasn’t in English. Happy with my find, I bought a pile of less-important books as well (almost all things I have in my collection, just here in better condition) just to make up for the undue bargain I had gotten.
Some of the vendors were motivated by desire for money, some were more just showing off their stuff, and many had as a main goal simply making some room in their house (at least one upcoming marriage was preconditioned on doing so.) As such, when the sales were pretty clearly over, a couple vendors started simply giving away piles of stuff. I took advantage of this to liberate a few items, transferring them out of the “collectibles” category and back into the “toy” category they were supposedly intended for. When I reached home on Sunday, my kids enjoyed running around with their stuffed Snoopies and playing games with Charlie Brown’s All-Stars action figures. (My 2 year old son kept chanting “Go! My sweet babboo! Go!”, which was written on a sign being held by the cheerleader Sally Brown action figure.)
All in all, I had a good time – got some good stuff, got to meet some good people. Got to talk to people I’d only known online (such as helpful AAUGH Blog readers Scott and Ray, and the Andrea Podley!), and see again fellow Peanuts specialist whom I’d only seen rarely (such as Vince Guaraldi at the Piano author Derrick Bang – hey, it’s available now for Kindle! – and animation maven Scott McGuire). Welcome to all the new AAUGH Blog readers I met there, and I hope to see you again sometime!