So what's the big deal about this Blog Fest thing. For you readers who live elsewhere let me give you a little background.
The Spokane newspaper, in an ongoing effort to find how best to engage the community, has an editor that has put a lot of stock in blogging. That gave birth to Huckleberries Online hosted by Dave Oliveria. It is not a blog in the sense that is is not actually a "weblog" but more a compilation of thoughts on everything from national news to the silliest of trivia and everything in between. Thrown in to the mix are those of us who rarely comment but do blog. So we have bloggers, commenters and blurkers. Blurkers pretty much just hang out and watch the circus.
In this circumstance the whole is definitely the sum of its parts. And what wonderfully diverse parts they are. It's like a huge extended family that gets together once a year for a reunion. And like a family, the personalities vary and there are squabbles. Oh, yeah. And the dialog reflects all this throughout the year. We who participate worry, get angry, walk away, come back - or not, laugh, cry and agonize. Just like family.
There were a couple of get togethers before the Fest became an official happening; those of us who attended were just curious about one another. The idea caught on, a more centralized location was decided upon, the paper began picking up the tab for pizza and pop and the rest is history.
So who's in this family? Well, a bunch of folks who identify themselves with funny names. Rainbow Sparkle Pony. Dogwalk Musings. Notes on a Napkin. Mama JD. Family Phil. Chronic Discontent. The Stickman. To name a few.
What does this slice of life represent? Well yesterday we had two city council members and the County Clerk; the spokeswoman for the CDA police department who is a whole lot more.
Reporters, past and present. Young marrieds, college students, senior citizens, writers, artists, professionals and blue collar workers. You name it, we've got it.
As this phenomenon began to grow many were reluctant to get out from behind their keyboard and let themselves become known. This year a lot of that changed. Some of the most unexpected of our numbers joined the party. And I doubt a one of them was sorry. Like kids growing up, we mature as bloggers. We learn what's acceptable behavior and what isn't. Perhaps most importantly we recognize what we have going here and put aside differences, for at least a day, to say "Hi".
How can you not want to see the Stickman year after year? This soft spoken man is becoming a legend in Coeur d'Alene. He makes walking sticks and gives them to anyone who passes by his home at the foot of Tubbs Hill. Tubbs Hill is a wooded peninsula that juts out into the lake and is an in town hikers Paradise. Kids come on field trips, hikers park in the lot across the street and most, if they want to leave with one of his sticks. I have mine and I treasure it. Because of the man.
It's nice to hob nob with the councilmen without politics intervening.
It's wonderful to get to know Digger and his partner Spaz. Great young men. And to see Brent coming from Tennessee for the second year in a row. And proud to find myself on his blog roll!
If I need to have my confidence restored about the generation coming up a visit with Sam, the former intern, and his wife Kat who come over from Bellingham, assure me our future is in good hands.
Sometimes, being a part of all this entails a special treat. This year it was entertainment provided by my favorite Spokesman columnist Doug Clark. His specialty is tipping the area's sacred cows. He is also an accomplished musician and writes the most wicked parodies about our collective peccadillos that you can imagine. What a bonus.
And so it goes. Next year fewer people will agonize and even more will join the fun. As living proof, if ThomG, who agrees with little that I write or think, can grin from ear to ear and have his picture taken with me, all can be right with the world. It took a lot for me to post this last photo. It's probably the one time I would welcome Thom's ability with Photoshop!