I cannot wait to attend any event thrown by these gentlemen! The expense is worth a hundred-fold! You get memories and friends that will last forever. More than that even- you get family. I am so excited to go back!
In 2008 and 2011 I was part of a small group of Tolkien fans who took a chance and attended A Long Expected Party and ALEP2: There and Back Again. We are a group of good friends who enjoy books, art, music and have a love of fantasy, so it was a very easy decision to go. And we loved the idea of it being a Non-Convention. We spent a year planning and saving our money. We designed our costumes, made gauntlets and even learned to apply prosthetic ears. We did all this because we hoped going meant to be part of a new unpretentiously different and absolutely magical event. And it was.
Everyone we met has a common love of Middle Earth and I believe, all things fantasy in general. And I am happy to say that most people seem to be courteous and very kind souls. Yet I admit that being within a group of friends made it easier for me to interact with the larger group.
When you look at the Shaker Village website you see how charming it is there. But what you can't know until you walk the grounds is just how magical a place it really is. The river, woods, ponds, streams, animals, buildings and most especially the trees seem to enfold you and help bring your most fantastic visions to life.
It is important that you like to eat because the food is Amazing. And so the rooms give you the complete feeling of being in another time. ALEP events have all been for me so worth the time, money and effort. What is also awe inspiring is the time, money and effort the organizing community puts into the details to insure, as much as possible, that everything runs smoothly.
Basically, when I think of ALEPers and the Shaker Village "shire" I start to smile and just cannot stop. It has been very enjoyable to see ALEP grow into a real community of talented, creative people. And I am very happy there will be an ALEP4-"4LEP", as I feel so fortunate to be a small part of such an extraordinary experience.
I am excited that the same talented organization of people is creating a vision based on the Harry Potter universe, so with a little "magic" and a lot of work Hoggstowne Wizarding School 2016 will flourish.
Greetings Professor Flipwick and those who may be interested in the capabilities of this fine umm... wizard now, in effectively hosting a unique and fun event.
I and my wife are from Nashville, TN, and have attended three of the previous events and very much enjoyed them. These events were based upon Tolkien's works and the Shaker Village was a wonderful place to have the event. The village allowed one to feel immersed in the event, especially when only those attending were present. It was also unique in that everyone who felt like it could ask to pitch in and in some ways revealing hidden talents. As such, it helped make the event personal to each person. So I would certainly suggest that attendees not hold back and step up and have fun!
The events are also very relaxed and varied. At our events they ranged from cooking lembas and learning to write Tengwar to discussing the heroic characteristics of Sam on the journey. We also had wonderful food catered by the Shaker Village and excellent skits as well as opportunities for people to share and take part. Also, we had an archery contest, hikes through the verdant woods and trails, a paddle wheel boat ride up the river, our own bard Marc Gunn (also known for the Celtic Music Podcast, the Renaissance Festival Podcast, and at least a dozen CDs of fun songs), and choirs of attendees (see what I said about taking part?). So Professor Flipwick (Mr. Baggins to many of us from ALEP) does indeed conduct a great and unique event. So show up and feel like you are within a wizarding village for several days of great fun!
Donovan Grimwood (Beorn)
The first ALEP filled it's promises indeed. Captured attendees, including myself with a simple wonder that re-creates a Tolkien depiction of the Shire and Fellowship that it makes it difficult to not enjoy it otherwise.
While out of any of the 3 ALEPs have not boasted anything overly extravagant, it nonetheless has a wonderful effort and love in it always that brings a relax themed adventure and experience. But that it is not to say they have clever tricks of entertainment up their sleeves! Replicating acts and scenes from both book and movie is all fair game in many of amusements to be had!
The feel of the convention (getaway or themed vacation it would more accurate be coined) is very much a great joy to attend. Since the 2nd ALEP in 2011 it's been a great enjoyment to have up'ed my involvement to help out.
The first of Cons tend to have 'bugs' in them, as I no doubt believe there is much to run a convention even of 120 or so people. However, between 3 ALEPs, the half ALEPs between them this whole convention-running-thing seems to be working out quite well and smoothly.
So far, ALEP in of itself, boasts a wonderful attendance of wonderful people whom if you were to ask are becoming closer to family rather than friends (let alone a general badge-owner). This stretches out from both Tim and JP's efforts, the great people of Kentucky, Shaker Village and the attendees themselves.
If they indeed have an adventure waiting for you in another beloved genre of theirs, no doubt they will deliver something very unique and special of a spectacle not to miss!
-Strider / Aragron
Winnipeg, MB, Canada (21 hour drive to Kentucky to attend, every time!)
I remember that when I received my invitation to the original "A Long Expected Party" I was pretty skeptical. I mean, I had never heard of this place "Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill" and knew nothing about the organizers. Why would I want to give them my money and travel all the way from Ontario, Canada to the wilds of Kentucky?
All I can say is I have NEVER in my life, been so glad that I took a chance on something. "A Long Expected Party" (ALEP) quite honestly changed my life. Now I can understand how that might seem a rather ridiculous notion to the uninitiated, but from that first event, I think we all knew this was no ordinary gathering. From the original ALEP through all the subsequent events I have acquired a "family of the heart"; a large, diverse and geographically spread out group of like-minded folk who have formed lifelong bonds of fellowship unrivalled by other events.
Now in more practical terms, what that has meant is excellent value on my cash outlay. Fabulous food, great ambiance, in addition to well planned and executed events. Each time I attend one of the ALEP functions (and I have attended many) I come away more satisfied and content than ever. The venue is perfect and the organizers constantly striving to ensure the attendees are well cared for and cleverly entertained.
Now, don't get me wrong, nothing is perfect…, there have been times when things did not go quite as expected; but the active participation of attendees has not just been allowed, but openly encouraged and as a result things have just gotten better and better.
Would I recommend attending a new event from this group? I would with all my heart and soul, because I KNOW they will put their hearts and souls into ensuring your enjoyment.
Bernadette Barnes aka Everon Gamgee
If you love your fandom and want nothing more than to share it with others, then these events are for you. The organizers put so much of their heart and soul into creating this fantasy world you can escape to for a weekend, it will leave you counting down the days until the next. Worth every penny and well worth the wait!
Dear Prof. Flipwick/Bilbo/Tim,
I am in awe of yours and JP's energy and passion for organizing these amazing events. It is one of my biggest wishes that the Hobbit dude and I lived closer so that we could attend more of them.
The Hobbit Dude and I traveled all the way from the far western shores of California to attend ALEP3. It was more than I could ever have hoped, dreamed or wished for. Shaker Village is perfect for Middle Earth events and should be equally magical for a Harry Potter type event. The "all inclusive" price could not be a better deal. The lodgings are comfortable and enchanting, the meals are delicious and enticing, the daily events and programs are fun, educational and illuminating, the evening entertainments are lively, entrancing and spell binding. And the people are some of the most amazing, fantastic, bewitching group of people I have ever encountered at a fandom type event, be they wearing Hobbity hairy feet, Elvish pointy ears or wizarding robes. I wait with eager anticipation for the next event that we can attend at Shaker Village.
It might be a little "colorful", but it is my honest opinion. I'm adding the Wizarding School to my calendar and I look forward to seeing you then.
My First Visit to Shaker Village “The Shire”
I heard about the ALEP three year meet-up last year kind of Late. As soon as I could I E-Mailed Tim to ask about a ticket and was told they were full but I would be put on the waiting list. I didn’t expect to hear back but soon got my E-Mail asking if I still wanted to come. I sure did and Tim was so helpful getting me registered and set for the trip. He helped me get my room and pretty much handled everything.
Once I arrived at the ALEP Meet-up I was greeted and welcomed like long lost family. Everyone was so friendly and inclusive to me. I felt right at home right away. I made friends for life and so enjoyed my time there. The laid-back schedule gave me plenty of time just to visit and also enjoy the panels that I wanted to attend “no rushing around and fighting crowds”. When it was time to leave I was invited back for the Premiere of the BOFA movie and jumped at the chance and again had a wonderful time. I’ll be back as soon as another event comes along. These events bring together people that share a common interest so as soon as you arrive you just fit right in.
I haven’t even talked about the setting yet But the Shaker Village is such a Great Place for these events. It’s very quiet and peaceful. The food is always Great especially the Breakfast “especially the fried apples”.
If you have a chance to attend any event put on by Tim and JP don’t miss the chance you won’t regret it. Well worth the eight hour drive.
And we only asked if anyone would send a “brief” view of their experiences.