Upwards of 1,300 fans of the late English writer J.R.R Tolkien are expected to descend on Toronto, Canada, in December 2003 for the Gathering of the Fellowship.
The Tolkien fans are also ardent enthusiasts of director Peter Jackson's cinematic adaptation of Tolkien's epic work, "The Lord of the Rings," and are getting together in Toronto to view the release of the third installment of his three-part adaptation of that book, "The Return of the King".
But that's not all. The Gathering is a three-day extravaganza that, besides also featuring screenings of "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" (the first ever triple feature of all three Lord of the Rings movies), will include a costume contest, a poetry/literature contest, a fan art contest, a trivia contest, a vendors/dealers show, and several seminars and workshops. There will also be a Rohan-themed banquet at the Medieval Times restaurant in Toronto.
"This started out as a simple idea to bring a bunch of fans together to see 'The Return of the King' ", Gathering president and planning committee chairman Ed Rodrigues said. "But it has grown way beyond that to encompass the whole range of Tolkien fandom."
Rodrigues last year was in the middle of planning a Line Party in Syracuse, New York, for the December 2001 premiere of "FOTR", and the Gathering idea sprang from that.
"The idea came about around November or December," said Paulina Gibson, vice president for the Gathering. "Ed was gathering people in Syracuse and he pulled it off. I posted (on the message board for TolkienOnline.com) and I said I wished I could be there with all of you... maybe we can gather for all three movies... just a thought. Ed replied enthusiastically with some ideas and it grew from there."
The Gathering has grown to encompass fans from other Tolkien fan sites as well, including Ringbearer.org, The Lord of the Rings Official Fan Club (lotrfanclub.com), the Minas Tirith Forums (minastirith.com), the Council of Elrond (council-of-elrond.com, formerly imladris.net), various other fan groups, and of course TheOneRing.net.
Interest in the Gathering has continued to swell ever since Toronto beat out six other cities for the honor of being the host city. More than 240 people have paid $50 (US) each for Early-bird ticket reservations, with nearly 700 expressing an interest in attending. The initial budget has been worked out, and the final ticket prices have been set just this weekend.
The official hotel for the Gathering is the Colony Hotel Toronto, with the activities, workshops, galleries, vendors, and the movies triple feature, to be held in the Queen Elizabeth Exhibit Hall and Theatre at Exhibition Place. Medieval Times at Exhibition Place will also feature the masquerade, costume contest, fully catered banquet and live show, music, dancing, and additional programming as well.
The Gathering's official website, www.tolkiengathering.com has also undergone a recent upgrade.
Sean Dailey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.