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Pogofest 2003

Miz Beaver’s Diary

March 27.  The “Offishul” beginning of Pogofest is the parade on Friday at 6:00 PM.  But for the truly dedicated fans and those that can get time off, the festivities begin on Thursday.  We gathered at the Hampton Inn for salad and chicken wings and a chance to catch up on the goings on since last year.  This was also our opportunity to meet Marcus Hamilton.  Marcus Hamilton currently draws the weekly Dennis the Menace.  He was the Guest of Honor at Pogofest 2003.  For complete information on Mr. Hamilton, go to the King Features web site.

March 28.  Marcus Hamilton, Janice Parks, Steve Thompson and I started our day with a visit to the Okefenokee Swamp Park (see photo album).  We walked around to see the various exhibits.  Marcus met “Old Roy”, the Okefenokee’s famous ‘gator, up close and personal.  Then we took the deep swamp tour.  It has been several years since there has been enough water for the extended tour.  It is a great trip.  You leave from the dock, in a large flat bottom boat with a guide.  There are boat lanes wandering through the swamp.  Our guide explained how the land is formed in the swamp and how the new formations float around and get into the boat lanes.   As the tour progressed, we had the opportunity (?) to see this for ourselves when we encountered a large floating mass of vegetation blocking our path.  We forced our way through with the boat motor, a long pole and some help from the people in the boat.  A large alligator sunned himself nearby and watched the whole thing.  He  hissed at us a few times, but didn’t seem bothered enough to move. We had a Turkey Buzzard circling overhead.  That makes you wonder if he knows something you don’t.

Friday evening, we participated in the annual  Pogofest Parade through Waycross.  I did not get pictures of the Pogo Fan Club boat.  Mainly because I was in it, and that makes a boring picture.  Dennis and Pogo were both in the parade along with Mr. Hamilton.  Also in the parade were the ladies from the Day Lily Fillies.  The Waycross chapter of the Red Hat Society.   The Red Hat Society and the Pogo Fan Club have one thing in common.  They both enjoy getting together and laughing a lot.

After the parade, we went to Doughboy Park for the presentation of the Cartoonist Star for the Walk of Fame.  Marcus Hamilton was presented with the Star, briefly.  Actually, he doesn’t get to keep it.  It is embedded in concrete along with the Stars from prior honorees in the Cartoonists Walk of Fame at The Depot.  Mr. Hamilton was given a plaque commemorating the presentation of the Star which he can take home as a memento.

After the presentation, we all went to The Depot for Low-country Boil, salad and a piece of the beautiful cake baked for the occasion.  It was almost too pretty to eat, but I closed my eyes and ate it anyway.  Mr. Hamilton presented the Pogofest Association a great color picture of Dennis and Pogo.  It will go on display at The Depot, along with some other great artwork from previous honorees.

March 29.  This was the day for the golf cart races,  Miggle’s Emporium, and the standard carnival offerings. (Hot Dogs, cotton candy and all those other good things that go with carnivals.)  The Pogo Fan Club had a tent to house Miggle’s and for Mr. Hamilton to sign autographs and do some sketches (see photo album).   I don’t know how many he did, but it was a lot.  He spent over three hours doing wonderful sketches for children and adults that enjoyed remembering when they were children.  There was a steady line of people waiting for sketches.  He was so gracious and so talented that no one got impatient waiting in line.  It was great just watching him at work. 

After enough time to regroup, we went out to dinner, and then back to the Hampton for a special presentation by Mr. Hamilton, our regular Saturday night auction, and the raffle drawing for the wonderful piece of original Walt Kelly art.   Mr. Hamilton showed us slides and explained his previous life as a freelance illustrator.  He illustrated  for many prominent magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post.  He also told us how Hank Ketcham selected him and trained him to draw Dennis.  He showed us some great slides of him drawing Dennis, as he explained how Dennis is written and drawn.  It was all very interesting.  At the end of the evening, the drawing for the Walt Kelly original daily was held.  Unlike last year, when the winner was not present, this year, it was won by Garret Hanson who was sitting there looking very pleased.  That meant that those of us that were present had to smile and pretend we really didn’t mind watching someone else walk away with a great example of Pogo art.  After the drawing for the art, we had a drawing for Dennis the Menace lunch boxes, courtesy of King Features and Dennis the Menace.  I was fortunate enough to win one.  I actually won two, but they would only let me have one.

Marcus Hamilton was one of the nicest people I have ever met.  He was talented, humorous,  friendly  and all the other nice adjectives you can think of.  We enjoyed having him with us and would love to have him return to Pogofest any time.

As usual, we all had a great time, and we owe it to the Pogofest Committee.  Unfortunately, earlier this year, we lost one of the outstanding Pogo fans.  Nancy Campbell was the manager of the Hampton Inn and one of the reasons we stayed there.  They were very hospitable and gracious, but it still isn’t the same without Nancy.  Sylvia Caswell has been a loyal Pogo fan and has been very closely involved with Pogo and Pogofest until health problems forced her to give up her relationship with Pogo, but we will not forget her work on behalf of Pogofest.  Vickie Leverett of the Waycross/Ware County Chamber of Commerce has done a great job of organizing and promoting Pogofest and the Cartoonist Walk of Fame, and the Low-Country Boil.  Rosie Williams is a small dynamo.  She is a dedicated worker, and a thoroughly delightful lady.  And of course, we cannot give enough credit to Janice Parks and her husband William.  Janice does so many things that I will not even try to list them here; otherwise this will be much longer than it already is.  Suffice to say, we owe her a great debt of gratitude.  This year was especially stressful for her because, along with Pogofest planning and organization, they have a son in Iraq with the 101st Airborne.  We are all praying for him and all the other military personnel we have defending our lives and freedom.

Don’t keep putting off your trip to Pogofest.  Life is short, eat dessert first!  Come to Pogofest next year!  We always have a great time, and we love to welcome newcomers.


All Walt Kelly art used on these pages is ©O.G.P.I. - other material ©2000-2008 by Marilyn White