Pogofest's Past: 2000
Miz Beavers Diary
March 23, 2000. The alarm went off at 4:30 AM. When you fly from Boise, Idaho to Jacksonville, Florida, you have to get an early start. My flight leaves Boise at 6:50 AM and arrives in Salt Lake City at 7:49. The next leg leaves SLC at 8:45. This allows enough time for a Croissanwich at Burger King, then on to Dallas-Ft. Worth, arriving at 12:20 PM. The next leg was scheduled to leave Dallas at 12:55. In real life, things donít always go on schedule. The crew found a minor mechanical problem so the flight was held up almost an hour. I am glad the problem was resolved but I was sitting there thinking about the fish fry at the Okefenokee Swamp Park.
We were scheduled to arrive in Jacksonville at 4:09 PM. We arrived at 4:50. I rushed off the plane, grabbed my bag and headed for Avis. I had reserved an "intermediate" car. I was told they were out of intermediate cars so I was getting a brilliant red Pontiac Grand Prix, complete with spoiler. It was a car that stood out in any crowd.
Fortunately, I knew the short-cut from the airport to Waycross, so I headed north as fast as I could, legally. I arrived at the Swamp Park in time for a great dinner of fried catfish, fries, grits, etc. It was great fun. Pogo was there greeting everyone and there were lots of Pogo Fan Club members there greeting old friends or meeting new ones. After dinner we took the Swamp Tour Train through the swamp. It was quite an experience. The swamp at night is rather spooky. There is a depiction of a moonshiners camp that looks very true to life. I would have liked to have been there for the earlier ride. It included singing and other entertainment.
After the train ride I hopped back into my hot red car and continued on to Waycross to the Hampton Inn. We had an unofficial gathering of the Pogo fans in the meeting room to discuss what we were going to be doing on Friday. I headed to my room about 10:00 EST. This was 8:00 MST. It is hard to convince yourself you want to go to bed at that hour.
March 24, A large group of us met for buffet breakfast at the Holiday Inn. It was a great breakfast and very entertaining. Pogo fans seem to be more fun than "regular" people. After breakfast we went our various ways to see the swamp in daylight or take care of last minute preparations. I went to the newly renovated Depot with Janice Parks and Sam Rawls to help set up the display of cartoons that Sam has collected. Sam Rawls, who signs his work "Scrawls", is a Georgian with a great talent for putting on paper all those thoughts that most of us donít even quite formulate into complete ideas. Sam has written several books. I can personally recommend The Redneck Instruction Book and How to Speak Fishing.
Several years ago, Sam, a self proclaimed "tree hugger"/ "bark-eater", was greatly disturbed at the idea of DuPont strip mining property just outside the Swamp Park boundaries. He appealed to editorial cartoonists all over the US for cartoons defending the swamp. He brought many of these cartoons to Pogofest. This is a wonderful display of art work by some of the top cartoonists in the country. These were on display at the Depot on Friday and Saturday. There are plans to publish these cartoons in a book to raise money to continue the effort to protect the swamp.
The newly renovated Train Depot is well worth seeing. It is now "home" to Vickie Leverett and her staff at the Waycross - Ware County Chamber of Commerce. They have a great selection of maps and brochures about Waycross, the Swamp and the many other worthwhile things to see and do while you are in the area. They have complete information on the Swamp Park and can answer all your questions. You can also buy bottles of Okefenokee Swamp Water. It tastes better than it sounds.
At 5:30, the many people, floats etc. that made up the parade started organizing at the Mary Street Park.
This is a very busy time for the Pogofest organizers. It is amazing how they are able to organize such a variety of people into a very nice parade in a relatively short time. This year, for the first time, I chose to watch the parade and take some pictures.
The Grand Marshall was Snoopy, complete with dog house and a beautiful model bi-plane. The Pogofest people had a great float for the Pogo Fan Club and Pogo. We were well represented with the faithful attendees from previous Pogofests, aided by some new people attending for the first time. My enthusiasm is not matched by my photographic skills and my picture of the Fan Club float is a bit blurry. The local paper, The Waycross Journal-Herald ran the Fan Club picture on their front page on Saturday. I didnít get a copy. Everything near the hotel was sold out.
Following the parade, we gathered at the Doughboy Park Gazebo for the awarding of the Star for the Cartoonist Walk of Fame. We were all thrilled at the prospect of Charles Schulz as Cartoonist of the Year. His untimely death was a tragic loss to comic lovers everywhere, but doubly sad for those of us that thought we were finally going to get to meet him. The award has always been given to a living cartoonist, but the Pogofest organizers decided to make an exception this year. The Mayor of Waycross, John Fluker presented the award to Snoopy who accepted on behalf of the Schulz family. Following the award, Sam Rawls, who knew Schulz, said a few words in praise of the cartoonist.
After the award ceremony, we went back to the Depot for a fantastic reception. They have a very nice patio area behind the Depot. We had a wonderful dinner. They served "Low Country Boil". If you are familiar with the "low country" you probably know all about this. For me, it was a new and highly enjoyable experience. It is small new potatoes, sausage, corn on the cob and shrimp, boiled with spices and served all mixed together. For Georgia people it was probably just another good dinner. For me it was a dining experience.
After dinner many of the Pogo Fans crossed the street to participate in the street dance. I spent a short time listening to the music but the jet lag was catching up and I gave up early.
March 25, Saturday morning we headed off in all directions. Several fans went down to check out the street fair in downtown, while others, including me went to the Swamp Park. The park was beautiful. I have always heard that it is at its best in the spring. I believe it. The flowers and the shrubs were fantastic. Due to low water, they were unable to take anyone on the "deep swamp tour", but the short tour was well worth the price. The Tour Train was also running and the views were wonderful. Also, the highway median was full of poppies in every conceivable color.
At 1:00 PM several of us from the Fan Club gathered at the Depot to "buy, sell, trade" at Miggleís Emporium. There were a lot of nice Pogo and Walt Kelly collectibles available there. I know of several collectors that were able to fill vacancies in their collection at Miggleís. It is also a good time to get together and talk about your "finds" and hear about the collections of other fans. There was much discussion about the pros and cons of eBay. It is amazing how a group scattered all over the country, knows who bid how much on which item. Pogo collectors may not always know each other personally, but they know the eBay identities and who their competition is.
Following the close of Miggleís, the Pogo Fan Club had their annual dinner and gathering at KDís restaurant in downtown Waycross. The dinner was excellent. And the company was just as good as the food. I shared a table with Jim and Joyce Irmen from Kentucky. They were nice enough to send me a great T-shirt to wear at the fish fry. It was bright red and matched my car. After dinner, we moved the gathering to the Hampton Inn. They provided us with very nice meeting room, and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I am not certain they knew about the chocolate chip cookies. A certain Fan Club member, who shall remain nameless, baked them and served them.
Janice Parks served as auctioneer and MC. She had us all introduce ourselves so that we would know who these people were we had just spent a weekend with. We had a fun auction of various donated items, with the proceeds going to the Pogofest Association. Everyone enjoyed the auction and some left with some very nice things. I was outbid on the one item I wanted, but I will probably forgive the buyer by next year...Maybe.
Following the auction, local cartoonist/used car salesman/standup comic, Lamar Deal (Omar Fenokee) tried to teach Steve Thompson to talk "southern". Any description I might attempt would be grossly inadequate. To appreciate it, you had to be there. Or I should have had a video camera rather than a still camera. I will only say it was a lot of fun. Steve did a pretty good job of talking "southern", but perhaps Richfield counts as "southern Minnesota".
March 26, I was able to get up leisurely, have coffee with some more Pogo Fans, drive leisurely to Jacksonville, give my hot red car back to Avis and head for home. I wasnít even much beyond the Waycross city limits when I started planning "when I come back next year". The exact date for Pogofest 2001 has not been announced, but it will be approximately the same time as this year. Maybe by then the water shortage in the Swamp will be over and we can all take the "deep swamp tour".
We had a lot of new faces at Pogofest this year, including Pete and Diane Elliott from British Columbia, Don and Vicki Gibboney from Michigan, Jim and Joyce Irmen from Kentucky, Robert Hood, his wife and son John from North Carolina, Gary Claxton from Ohio, (His family either settled Gary, Indiana or Claxton, Georgia. They also made fruitcakes.) Debra and Henry Riggan ( I donít know where theyíre from), and James Matheny (I donít know where he is from either). I did not do a very good job of getting all the details that a good reporter should get. Probably because I am not a good reporter. I hope I didnít miss anyone or screw up their information. If I did, I plead over-eating. I donít know what that has to do with anything, but I did a lot of it while I was there.
Remember!!!! POGO FOR PRESIDENT! POGO IN í00!
Pogofest 2000 Photo Album - Lots of photos of those in attendance and the events.
Pogofest Memorabilia - The Okefenokee Pogofest Association has some extra T shirts and caps available for those who couldn't attend. Check them out.