Dear Beatles Family,
What a WEEKEND that was! Last weekend, over 4,000 Beatles fans from 30 states and two continents came together at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinois to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America. We love you all. This is our collective recap…
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Carol Lapidos Cam // Danny Abriano Cam1 Cam2 // Michelle Joni Cam1 Cam 2
FAN CAM <—- <—-THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN. Keep on sharing your #ChiFest14 pics!
Some of the fan-decorated doors throughout the hotel
The Fest began on Friday, August 15, when the hotel started to fill with fans who gathered for afternoon jams, to decorate their hotel room doors, and to play and belt out songs of the best band that ever was.
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From @d_davis78 on Instagram
With the beloved Terri Hemmert serving as emcee (who just posted this pic of having dinner with a Monkee and the XRT radio winners!)…
MC Terri Hemmert with Micky Dolenz and the contest winners
…the Fest officially kicked off at 5 PM on Friday as fans came streaming through the lobby and entered the ballroom as the weekend began. Along with our fantastic band ,Liverpool, our musical guests included Peter Noone, Micky Dolenz, Mike Pender of the Searchers, Laurence Juber, Mark Rivera, and Mark Hudson. Friday night continued on with the 60s Dance Party and dress up contest.
After the dance floor cleared, Fest Founder Mark Lapidos shared his story of meeting John Lennon and starting Beatlefest in 1974, with all the bells and whistles. Tom Frangione, one of our moderators, assisted. Now that’s a story to tell over and over again!
Mark Lapidos and Tom Frangione
To go along with our spectacular musical guests, the weekend also featured some of the best sound-alike and Battle of the Beatles Bands competitors we’ve ever had in our 40 years of the Fest. Byrd emceed the sound-alike tryouts, and it was extremely difficult whittling the field down for Saturday night’s finals.
Cooper Moore during the Sound-Alike Finals
Ringer’s All-Starr Band during the Battle of the Beatles Bands
The sound-alike finals came down to 7-year-old mini-Beatle Cooper, the mother/daughter combination of Liv and Di, who sang a chills-inducing version of ‘Imagine,’ and Collin Berg, who won the contest with a great (harmonica included) version of ‘I Should Have Known Better.’
The Battle of the Bands proved to be a fierce competition, with Ringer’s All-Starr Band, The Ralleys, Eleanor and the Rigbys, and Pisces Fish emerging as the biggest threats for the crown. Ringer’s All-Starr Band, with an incredible Ringo impersonator, took home the honors once again this year.
The Gratitude Wall
Just like we had lots of new events and activities at our enormous New York City Fest in February, the Chicago Fest gave birth to some great new additions. Among them was our ‘Beatles Gratitude Wall,’ where fans wrote and hung hundreds of signs to answer the question “Why are you grateful for The Beatles — or anything else for that matter?”
One of the many notes on the Gratitude Wall
We are so GRATEFUL to all of you for being part of our Beatles family!
There was also a spur-of-the-moment Bed-In on Saturday afternoon that caused a peaceful stir in the Grand Foyer.
Fans jumped right into bed with Michelle My Pelle, the Beatles Cabaret Duet who also hosted the new Latenight Open Mic Night on Friday and Saturday at midnight. That mic was rocking and rolling both nights, with impromptu bands forming, ballsy song renditions, and an epic dance party remix by DJ Madonna and Sun Queen. A new Fest tradition!
The Art Contest winners
Keeping with the grand scale of the weekend, the Beatles art contest was a place where fans were treated to some truly amazing art by professionals, amateurs, and kids – all who took home prizes. Of the many incredible entries in the professional division, John Kettman’s to scale Abbey Road crossing piece took home the prize (after serving as a great photo-op for pretty much every fan who crossed its path). And a triple prize winner, Gary Schwaller, with his album cover t-shirt quilt, a painting of John and Paul and the special artist pick, his John Lennon batik portrait. We thank Deco, (shown on the right) for doing such a great job with the Art Museum.
Carol Lapidos and Deco take a walk on Abbey Road
The Chicago Fest was home to two Beatles marketplaces, the weekend home of over 20 of the best Beatles authors in the world, and Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, who regaled us all with his Beatles knowledge.
Mark Lewisohn and his wife Anita
When attendees weren’t busy dancing, singing, and parading (at our third annual George Harrison Ukulele Parade), they took in one of Bob Abdou’s highly entertaining Beatles puppet shows, got memorabilia signed, toured the Photo (Nancy Lee Andrews and Rob Shanahan) and Art (Eric Cash) Exhibitions, and more.
Many also took refuge in our Beatles Ashram, which featured four yoga classes both Saturday and Sunday, intro sessions from the teachers of Transcendental Meditation, a Creative Song Journey, a Teen Chat, and more.
Yoga in the Beatles Ashram
Other highlights from the weekend were photographer Rob Shanahan, Eric Cash showing his amazing art, Beatles Karaoke with Terry Palmer (new this year), Live Beatles Trivia, Jeff Augsburger and David Rauh showing off their incredible Beatles exhibits, Viviana Adams of Porter, Texas winning a trip to Las Vegas to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil, and former American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart helping to bring Sunday’s hotel jam session to a close with us outside the Grand Ballroom.
Our LOVE giveaway announcement and winner
We had so many guest authors that we had the O’Hare Ballroom dedicated to only authors discussions, and the amount of Beatles knowledge that came out of those talks filled fans’ heads. From Vivek Tiwary, Chuck Gunderson, Ivor Davis, Jude Southerland Kessler and Richard Buskin, to regulars Bruce Spizer, David Bedford, Al Sussman and Robert Rodriguez (too many to mention) it was a collective WOW.
As always, the Musicians’ Forum on Sunday was a highlight, as was that night’s raucous concert that saw Peter Noone and Micky Dolenz take the stage together as they brought the fans to their feet in a truly joyous scene.They performed ‘I’m Henry VIII I Am’ and ‘There’s a Kind of Hush’ (two Herman’s Hermits songs) together.
Micky Dolenz and Peter Noone on Sunday night
And then they took a #SELFIE!!
Mike Pender of The Searchers made his first ever FEST appearance and performed A Hard Day’s Night with Liverpool. It was the first time in his career that he ever performed a Beatles song.
Mike Pender with Liverpool
Mark Rivera and Laurence Juber added a special touch of amazing musicianship. Speaking of Liverpool, let’s give a big shout out to Joe Bologna who did a great job subbing for Chris on Drums. Drew, Glen and John were spot on and had a blast performing a great variety of Beatles songs and then backing up all the special musical guests.
Mark Hudson, Laurence Juber, and Mark Rivera
Of course, the ball of energy known as Mark Hudson rocked the Grand Ballroom stage with fab musical jams on Saturday and Sunday evenings. The shows ended at around 12:30AM both nights and everyone went home singing!
Mark Lapidos did his “Here Comes The Sun” to usher out the weekend just after 4am on Sunday, but the party didn’t stop till 8 AM Monday morning, as we hippie’d on into the night, outside as the sun came up, greeting joggers and people in business suits starting their week.
It’s impossible to adequately capture the essence of the weekend in a few short pages, but we can say that the weekend was truly special for one reason: You.
The energy the fans brought all weekend was off the charts. From the jams that went on from the second the Fest kicked off on Friday until after it ended on Sunday, the Beatles-centric hotel room doors that were decorated, the energy that was brought during the concerts, and the happiness and love that made up the weekend…it was you guys who made the 2014 Chicago Fest what it was.
@SarahStarr is still rocking her wristband!
We are currently gathering all of the pictures and videos from The Fest, and we want to see all of yours too! As we did over the weekend, use the hashtag #chifest14 to share pictures with us on Instagram and Twitter (@Beatles_Fest), and post pictures on our Facebook wall at Facebook.com/thefest. Tons more pictures of all the guests, events, activities, and fans will be shared in emails, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and via email (send them to firstname.lastname@example.org) in the coming days and weeks!
We’d also like to thank the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, who did a fantastic job hosting the Fest, especially Debra. Most of all, we want to offer another thank you to all the guests and fans who came to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival in America and the 40th anniversary of the Fest for Beatles Fans with us.
We are already so excited for the next Fest, our first time back in Los Angeles in 14 years! It’s coming up October 10-12. Don’t miss this next epic Beatles weekend… get your ticket to ride!