First Illinois Beatle fest a smashing hit

I am a sucker for a good party.  Who isn’t? I am an even bigger sucker for a Beatle-themed shin dig.  It seems that so are the fine folks in Galesburg, IL.  They congregated to celebrate all-things Fab, and it seems especially sing the praises of one-time (pre-Fab) visitor George Harrison. 


I really wish that people would put on more of these types of events.  I know that there are many festivals out there, some large and some small.  But it’s those little stories of saved cigar boxes, and those personal encounters that really make being a Beatle fan rewarding sometimes.  It’s that shared sense of passion, and sharing those stories that makes it really neat.  It looks like they had a whole ton of fun at the Beatle festival in Galesburg.  Hopefully, it will become an annual event.

(Sorry for posting this link so late.  We missed this bit of news earlier in the week.)

Here’s what we’ve read.

Louise Harrison was back in Galesburg this weekend for a day-long Beatles tribute festival. This time, everyone knew she was the older sister of George Harrison of The Beatles, and people lined up in droves to say hello or get an autograph.

Susan Reitmeyer of St. Charles came down from the Chicago area with her friend, Theresa Blatner of Batavia, for A Hard Day’s Night in Galesburg.

Clutching cigar boxes painted black and decorated with pictures of the Fab Four, the women stood in line to meet Harrison and get her autograph on their keepsakes.

Reitmeyer has been attending Beatles festivals for 28 years, but had never met Harrison.

Louise Harrison, George Harrison’s sister, hands an autographed item back to a fan Saturday at “A Hard Day’s Night in Galesburg.”

“That’s why I’m in line,” Reitmeyer said. In addition to those cigar boxes, Harrison signed photographs and copies of “Before He Was Fab” a book by Jim Kirkpatrick on George Harrison’s visit to his sister’s home in southern Illinois.

Fans snapped pictures and shared tales of their love for The Beatles with Harrison, who offered hugs to anyone who asked.

“All the Beatles people are my extended family,” Harrison said. “I am the global mum.”

Harrison said she was living in Galesburg in 1968 when “Hey Jude” was released.

She hosted a radio program on WGIL called “Lunch with Louise” on which she said she played all kinds of “crazy stuff,” such as Tiny Tim’s high-pitched version of “Tiptoe through the Tulips.”

But despite her public persona, Harrison kept quiet about her famous brother, wanting to make a name for herself.

“Nobody knew I was related to George Harrison,” Harrison said.

She said it was “great, so far” to be back in Galesburg and was looking forward to driving by her former house, which she believes was on Parkview Road.

These days, Harrison manages Liverpool Legends, a Beatles tribute band based out of Branson, Mo., that performed at A Hard Day’s Night in Galesburg, the first local Beatles festival in what organizers hope will become an annual event.

The event was modeled after larger Beatles festivals such as Abbey Road on the River in Louisville, Ky., and Beatlefest in Chicago.

“We thought there was no reason we can’t do the same thing here,” organizer Jeff Pacheco said.

In addition to Liverpool Legends, Chicago-based bands The Cavern Kittens and The Cavern Beat performed, as did Stockwood, a Woodstock-based band featuring musicians ages 10 to 14, making it the youngest Beatles tribute band anywhere.

Local acts performed Beatles music on the outdoor stage in the 400 block of East Main Street from noon to 4 p.m., while Beatles cartoons and concert footage were shown at the Orpheum Theatre. The tribute bands performed from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Around 400 advance tickets to A Hard Day’s Night in Galesburg were sold to Beatles fans in 14 states and the United Kingdom, but hundreds more showed up to purchase tickets at the door.

Pacheco said he expected attendance to easily top 800 people. Organizers are hoping not only to put on the festival again next year, but to double or triple it in size.

“People are so mesmerized by all this,” Pacheco said, as Beatles fans of all ages arrived at the festival – some in go-go boots and bright lipstick, others in faded black “Let it Be” T-shirts.

Hayley Lerner, a Knox College student from Mundelien, danced alone just after 5 p.m. to the Cavern Kittens – an all-female Beatles tribute band – in a short black skirt, black tights and a tight maroon shirt.

Her get-up – inspired by an article in a 1966 issue of “Teen Fashion” magazine on how to look like a Beatles fan – was topped off with a vintage flower pin, a pair of vintage earrings and a bouffant hairdo.

Lerner, who spent the afternoon watching Beatles cartoons and concert footage at the Orpheum Theatre, said she has been researching the 1960s for her senior paper at Knox. Through that research, she’s grown fond of the Beatles.

“My interest used to be more about the era. Now I’m a huge fan of their music,” Lerner said.

Source: Register-Mail


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