The Long Way to Cleveland:
The Chicago Mini-con
The delightful thing about foreign guests to the con is that they travel early to the US to both acclimate themselves to the time differences and to enjoy extended vacation time by sightseeing in the US. If you are lucky to be a host for such guests, you may also enjoy the opportunity to plan a mini-con for area fans to meet with your guests and all bask in the warmth and friendship that Beauty and the Beast fans enjoy.
Three wonderful Austrians travelled to Chicago planning to eventually end up in Cleveland for the con. Andrea, Gonda, and Margit landed at OíHare, and from there, their adventure began. Two whirlwind days in Chicago, and the third day was the mini-con.
Donna was host at Arlington Race Track. Now, serendipity works in mysterious ways. When the call went out about the possibility of a mini-con and who might be interested and able to attend, Donna responded with enthusiasm. Then began the discussion of what to do that would be fun for our guests. Itís all in whom you know. Donna has a good friend who trains horses who run at Arlington. Would we be interested in meeting and feeding her horses some treats at the barn at the track? Then we could go watch the races. That sounded good to the Austrians, and good to me, so we had a plan!
The day dawned overcast and a bit cooler. We connected at the track with Donna and her husband and were led to the barn. We were introduced to about ten horses, one of whom would race that day (Lil Carmelita). These horses were nothing but big puppy dogs! One in particular, Star, loves to be loved and worms her head in under your arm, blows in your ear, and just generally nuzzles you! We got to feed them peppermint candies (itís supposed to be good for them!) and carrots. Everyone, that is, except Lil Carmelita. Race day has its restrictions!
From there, we headed to the Grandstand. We sat just two levels up, gathered about a table and just a tad off to the left of the finish line. Great seats! After some instruction regarding the betting book, and the process, it came down to pick your horse however you want and ignore the statistics! There were 11 total races that day; Carmelitaís was 9th. Of course we bet on Stay Foolish because he was owned by Dare to Dream Stable. We know what it is like to dare to dream! We did stand down at the rail for a couple of races (including Carmelitaís) and got to see the horses thunder by at the finish. Such magnificent animals! Carmelita came in 4th. Not too bad for her first race of the season. Our Austrian guests were not having much luck until the last race when we picked two horses: Razzleberry (just because it was a cool name!) and Include the Aussie (in honor of our Australian tunnel friends). Both horses showed (came in second and third), so we left on a winning note!
While we had hoped for a larger gathering, those that came had a great time and friendships were made, both animal and human! Donnaís connection and gracious hosting made the day a success. The mini-con served as a great appetizer for the con to come!
Pat & friends
Left to right: Donna, Margit, Pat, Gonda, Andrea