October 7, 2022

Beaglefest: A history

(This special post is by 5CP Associate Editor Gayna Lamb-Bang and her roommate, Derrick)

The Peanuts Collector Club was founded in mid-1983 by Andrea Podley, who until summer 2008 managed the ever-increasing duties with the sole assistance of her husband, Phil. She published quarterly newsletters, each of which seemed to be larger than its predecessor, every one filled with articles about various aspects of Peanuts-dom: bios of individual members and descriptions of their collections; news on just-released merchandise; collectibles; and definitive lists of particular items (refrigerator magnets, for instance). The most popular newsletter feature, during its early years, was the all-important Buy/Sell/Swap pages in the back (which gradually shrank, as the Internet became more important, and eBay consumed everybody's attention!). At its peak, the Club had close to 2,500 international members.

Beginning in the summer of 2008, Kathy Magrane took over the position of Club president. Bowing to the digital age, the printed newsletters ceased shortly thereafter; since then, most business and news has been conducted via the club's Facebook page.

But stepping back in time...

Within two years of the Club's founding, the growing cadre of members decided to celebrate their organization with a festival of convention of some sort. Member Marian Wolff gets credit for coining the term "Beaglefest": selected out of an abundance of caution, lest "Snoopyfest," or some derivation thereof, might be forbidden due to licensing rights.

Beaglefest I was scheduled for July 5-7, 1985, at the Los Robles Lodge in Santa Rosa, California; it was chaired by Andrea Podley. This was a modest affair, and attendance was small: just 40 brave and enthusiastic souls, all a little crazy about Peanuts collectibles, many of them meeting each other for the first time during an introductory wine and cheese party held in the Lodge ballroom. The excitement and high spirits continued during the next day's Collectors' Market, when Club members brought hundreds of items to sell or trade. Many sellers immediately spent their profits on more goodies for their own collections. Later that evening, members gathered for dinner and then sat in the bar and talked the night away.

Beaglefest was declared a success, and so...

A happy group of Beaglefest II attendees
Beaglefest II took place June 30-July 3, 1989, again at Santa Rosa's Los Robles Lodge; attendance was much larger, with slightly more than 100 members arriving from across the United States and Canada, with a few flying in from overseas. Bruce Carlson chaired the event, which adopted the slogan "40 Years of Happiness." Swap meets were held on both Saturday and Sunday, with a stunning display of collectibles for sale. A costume parade was modest enough to permit all participants to win a prize, and — best of all — Charles and Jeannie Schulz were guests of honor.       

Beaglefest III brought roughly 300 people to the Los Robles Lodge from July 2-5, 1993; members came from all over the United States and Canada, and four additional foreign countries. Bruce Carlson once again chaired the event, and Charles and Jeannie Schulz once again were guests of honor. The Club completely filled the hotel, which was convenient; the often late-night room sales didn't bother any other guests!

Charles M. Schulz at Beaglefest III

By this point, Beaglefest had established numerous traditions that would become part of all future gatherings: the aforementioned room sales; presentations by special guests; visits to Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop, the Redwood Empire Ice Arena and One Snoopy Place, where Schulz had his studio; series of auctions -- with all proceeds benefiting Canine Companions for Independence (today known more simply as Canine Companions) -- and a lavish banquet dinner on the final Saturday evening, often including adorable centerpieces won by one lucky member at each table.

Beaglefest IV traveled across the country and gathered upwards of 700 folks in the  Minneapolis/St. Paul Holiday Inn International, for four equally fabulous days: July 13-16, 1995. The location was selected due to the nearby Mall of America, with its Camp Snoopy theme area; Bruce Carlson once again chaired the event. Special events included a bus trip to O'Gara's, the restaurant located in the building where Schulz's father worked as a barber; a huge Peanuts collectors' market, where an estimated 100,000 collectibles were for sale or trade during that one day; and a dinner theater show at Camp Snoopy.

Charles M. Schulz at Beaglefest V

Beaglefest V returned to Northern California, but by this point the club had outgrown the Los Robles Lodge; the event took place July 10-12, 1997, at the Double Tree Inn in Rohnert Park (adjacent to Santa Rosa). Chuck Macy served as chair, for roughly 600 members who were greeted by a life-size reproduction of Lucy's psychiatric booth. Members came from as far away as Japan, England, France, Scotland, Australia, Canada and almost every state, including Alaska and Hawaii. Charles and Jeannie Schulz once again were guests of honor; special events featured a "mini-musical" version of You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, performed by the Not Ready For Prime-Time Beaglefest Players; a professional ice show at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena, starring "Mr. Debonair' (Richard Dwyer) and Snoopy; a costumed plush contest; and numerous seminars. Following the Sunday evening banquet, Charles Schulz took the stage to share some "little-known facts" about his early years with Peanuts.

The Woodland Opera House production of You're a Good Man,
Charlie Brown
, with the cast playing, from left, "The Blanket,"
Charlie Brown, Patty, Linus, Snoopy, the guy on piano,
Schroeder and Lucy.

Beaglefest VI — July 6-9, 2000 — took place under a cloud, as Charles Schulz had died just a few months earlier. Members once again returned to the Rohnert Park Double Tree Inn, for an event chaired by Kelly Tarigo. Aside from occasionally somber moments, everybody understood the importance of keeping Schulz's memory alive, by cherishing the ideals that will shine forever in his characters, and in his work. (With the Peanuts strip's actual 50th anniversary so close, there also was plenty of time for serious partying!) This gathering was highlighted by a professional presentation of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, featuring a cast that included 16-year-old Greta Gerwig (as Patty), destined for Hollywood fame and fortune as an actress, director and writer. This was the club's largest gathering ever, with close to 800 attendees.

The following year featured a smaller "in-between" event — not an official Beaglefest — which took place July 26-29, 2001, at the Holiday Inn at King of Prussia, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Kelly Tarigo also chaired this event, which gave East Coast folks a break, since they had traveled to California so many times.

Canine Companions for Independence dogs and their handlers,
at Beaglefest VII

Beaglefest VII — July 4-7, 2002 — scaled back to roughly 300 people, took place at Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove Inn. During the planning phase, these dates were selected to coincide with the opening of the new Charles M. Schulz Museum (which, at that point, was scheduled for a spring 2002 debut). Alas, construction delays kept the Museum from being able to officially receive visitors, but Beaglefesters nonetheless got a "sneak peak." Kelly Tarigo chaired again, and — from this point, moving forward — Jeannie Schulz became a permanent guest of honor. Club members once again filled this smaller venue, so room sales (and parties) were able to continue late into the night.

Some of the many Charlie Brown statues scattered throughout
Santa Rosa in 2005, some of which still can be found to this day.
(Photo courtesy of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

Everybody loved the Fountaingrove, so Beaglefest VIII — July 1-4, 2004 — returned to that venue. Kathy Briski took over as chair, and the event again drew roughly 300 members. This time, everybody was able to view the Charles M. Schulz Museum in all its glory; Beaglefesters received both a nice entry admission and gift shop discount. Special guests included Jeannie Schulz, professional ice skater Judy Sladky, Craig Schulz, artist Stan Pawlowski, licensee Don Fraser ... and, of course, Snoopy! (Funny thing: Whenever Snoopy appeared, Judy Sladky was nowhere to be found ... definitely a Superman/Clark Kent type of vibe.)

In between events, Santa Rosa held the first of its four Peanuts statue hunts during the summer of 2005: "It's Your Town, Charlie Brown." Fifty-five large artist-decorated statues of good ol' Chuck — commemorating the 55th anniversary of the Peanuts strip — were scattered throughout the city. By moving quickly, and armed with maps, it was possible to find all of them during a two-day visit.

Happy attendees at Beaglefest IX: from left, Miranda Wong,
Gayna Lamb-Bang, Andrea Podley, Victor Lee and Derrick Bang.

Beaglefest IX — June 1-4, 2006 — again filled Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove Inn, with Kathy Briski returning as chair. (The Club's attempt to hold the event at Mall of America hit a snag because of uncertainties regarding the Mall's relationship with Camp Snoopy; the planning committee didn't want to risk the possibility of no Peanuts presence! That proved a wise decision, given what finally happened.) Special guests included Jeannie Schulz, Judy Sladky, Craig Schulz, Don Frasier, Deb Canham, Tom Bednarek and Francis Toldi ... and, once again, Snoopy! The event also coincided with Santa Rosa's second Peanuts statue hunt: "The Summer of Woodstock," which placed 76 (!) artist-decorated statues of Snoopy's itty-bitty bird buddy throughout the city. Finding all of them in two days was a challenge!

Santa Rosa's third Peanuts statue hunt, "Snoopy's Joe Cool Summer," took place during the summer of 2007. As this was believed to be the final round, a stunning total of 94 statues filled the city.

Licensee Don Fraser and Craig Schulz check out a
rather special issue of Life magazine, during the
Beaglefest X sellers' market.

Various issues prompted an unusual gap between Beaglefest events; members had to wait four years for Beaglefest X — July 1-4, 2010 — which returned to Rohnert Park's Doubletree Inn. Kathy Magrane had taken the reins as club president, and Chris Carveth began his long reign as event chair. This gathering of Peanuts fans coincided with an unexpected treat: Santa Rosa's fourth and truly final Peanuts statue hunt: "Look Out, It's Lucy." This was a more modest celebration, with only 32 statues. As an added bit of fun, hunters also had to find a tiny, 1-inch-tall picture of Woodstock, concealed somewhere on each statue. Special guests included sculptor Stan Pawlowski, licensee Don Fraser and Craig Schulz. The festivities concluded with an all-Vince Guaraldi concert by pianist George Winston.

Beaglefest XI — July 7-10, 2011 — moved to a different part of the United States: to the Crowne Plaza Hotel in North Cincinnati, Ohio, to take advantage of the Peanuts-themed rides and activities in the Planet Snoopy portion of the nearby Kings Island Amusement Park. Chris Carveth chaired the festivities, which included a full day at the park, with a BBQ lunch and special group activities such as a "Sing-Along Peanuts Adventure," dancing with costumed Peanuts characters, and a "Snoopy Rocks" ice show. Back at the hotel, members were treated to a production of "Lights ... Camera ... Murder" by the Whodunit Players. 

Jazz royalty: from left, Colin Bailey, Dean Reilly, Eddie Duran and
Jim Martinez

Beaglefest XII — June 28-July 1, 2012 — returned to Northern California, and drew a small but dedicated crowd to Rohnert Park's Double Tree Hotel. Special activities included a visit to the Pacific Coast Air Museum, adjacent to the Peanuts-branded Charles M. Schulz/Sonoma County Airport. Chris Carveth again chaired the event, which climaxed with a jazz concert that reunited three of Vince Guaraldi's former sidemen — guitarist Eddie Duran, bassist Dean Reilly and drummer Colin Bailey — accompanied by pianist Jim Martinez.

With events now being mounted on an annual basis, the decision was made to give a different name to those taking place outside of California. That led to the debut of...

Beaglestock I — October 4-6, 2013 — which took place at the Hilton Hasbrouck Heights, in Meadowlands, New Jersey: in close proximity to MetLife Stadium, where members received an exclusive tour, accompanied by Snoopy ... wearing a branded MetLife sweater! Other events included a New York City bus tour. Back at the hotel, members enjoyed a visit from a CCI trainer and some fabulous dogs. Chris Carveth chaired.

Beaglefest XIII — June 26-29, 2014 — again drew a small but dedicated crowd to Rohnert Park's Double Tree Hotel. At this point, attendance settled into a pattern of 100-125 members, most of them long-timers, but always with a handful of newcomers. Special events included a visit to a Santa Rosa art gallery that (coincidentally?) featured an exhibit of Tom Everhart's Peanuts work; a presentation about Peanuts-themed quilts; and a presentation by Nick Phillips, of Concord Records, who talked about recent Vince Guaraldi album releases. Chris Carveth chaired, and the event concluded with an all-Guaraldi concert by the Jim Martinez Trio.

Yes, this Sopwith Camel actually flies!

Beaglefest XIV — July 21-24, 2016 — took a different approach, with a gathering at Southern California's Knott's Berry Farm, home of Camp Snoopy. Special events and activities included a demonstration of a local hobbyist's actual flying doghouse, with the World War I Flying Ace sitting atop it; a visit with Peanuts sculptor Stan Pawlowski; a Peanuts-themed ice show at Camp Snoopy (which was quite popular, as the temperature was boiling hot!); a bus trip to (among other Los Angeles-area sites) Snoopy's recently unveiled star at Hollywood's Walk of Fame, Chris Carveth chaired, and the final evening concluded with a concert by famed jazz pianist David Benoit.

Beaglestock II — August 11-13, 2017 — took place at the Wyndham Ramada Hotel in Rhinebeck, New York: in close proximity to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, accompanied by Snoopy, where members received an exclusive tour of vintage planes and automobiles. Chris Carveth chaired.

Beaglefest XV — July 22-25, 2018 — moved to Santa Rosa's Flamingo Hotel. Events included a visit to the CCI campus, with presentations by dogs and their owners; an ice show at the Redwood Empire Arena, featuring Snoopy; and a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum. Special guests included Jeannie Schulz, Judy Sladky and Grammy Award winners Cheryl Pawelski and Michael Graves, who discussed their newly released anthology CD set, Vince Guaraldi: The Complete Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Recordings. Chris Carveth chaired, and the event concluded with a Peanuts-themed jazz concert by the Jim Martinez Trio. 

(No caption necessary!)
Beaglestock III — August 25-28, 2019 — took place at the Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake in Houston, Texas. The event aligned with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 10 mission, during which the command module was nicknamed Charlie Brown, and the lunar module was nicknamed Snoopy. The many space-themed events included a lengthy tour of the Houston
Space Center, and presentations by former astronauts. Back at the hotel, trainers, owners and dogs from the local CCI chapter gave a presentation, and members enjoyed a photo op with Snoopy ... dressed in orange astronaut togs! Chris Carveth chaired.

Covid precluded any activities taking place in 2020 or 2021, and then Beaglefest XVI — August 4-7, 2022 — roared back with a vengeance, taking place at Santa Rosa's Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country Hotel. No doubt due to the lengthy gap between events, attendance climbed to just over 200 enthusiastic members. Chris Carveth chaired the event, which acknowledged both the 20th anniversary of the Charles M. Schulz Museum's opening, and the 100-year anniversary of Schulz's birth. Special guests included Glenn and Sean Mendelson, and Lynda Johnston, three of Lee Mendelson's children, who talked about upcoming plans; and four members of the former St. Paul's Church Choir, who — as children — sang in A Charlie Brown Christmas: David Willat, Dan Bernhard, Mark Jordan and Cary Cedarblade. The event concluded with a surprise appearance by famed artist/sculptor Yoshiteru Otani ("Yoshi"), and an all-Guaraldi performance by the Jim Martinez Trio.

As for where we go from here ... stay tuned! There's more fun booked for the future!


Anonymous said...

WOW...this is ssssssoooooooo awesome. Thank You !!!!!!!!!

Brigitte said...

Thank you for an understanding of the history of Beaglefest. Very interesting!

Anonymous said...

Wow, thank you for all this information.