When I was a kid, my parents took our family to spend a long weekend at a kid’s campground before the season kicked off. I had attended the camp the year before and had memories of games, hikes, pranks and new friends. While the picturesque campground looked the same, it felt wrong. The people—the real heart and soul of that place—were missing. I spent those days feeling detached and longing for absent friends.
In the wake of RobinsonFest, I feel a similar sense of something missing. As I visit Portsmouth and the surrounding area, some instinctual part of my brain says, “Go to the hotel and see everyone!” Then the conscious part of my brain realizes that’s not possible, that if I went to the amazing Homewood Suites, the place would feel like an empty, soulless husk. I have never walked through those doors and not been greeted by a smile and a hug. It’s odd to feel that kind of an attachment to a hotel, but after this year’s RobinsonFest, I think stopping by the hotel would feel a lot like that bittersweet campground visit.
That is the quality and intensity of the relationships forged at RobinsonFest. Writing that feels like an exaggeration, and I imagine a lot of people reading this will think I’m simply promoting the event, but I think everyone who attended will agree.
While we visited some amazing places (the Mount Washington cruise and Franconia Notch Echo Lake), participated in some fun activities (Hilltop Fun Center and Butternut Farm) those events weren’t the weekend’s highlight. The people were. The closest comparison is a family reunion. While many people have attended multiple years, and they keep in touch throughout the year, new attendees are welcomed with open arms (literally) and are made part of the family.
And the result wasn’t a just a conference, it was a celebration. Of friendship, of Dan’s birthday, of Mike and Mandi’s upcoming wedding, of generosity and kindness. The familial atmosphere became most poignant when Stan (Rook) used the hotel’s kitchen to whip up a batch of homemade apple crisp (using apples picked at the farm), which we devoured, along with a cake, during our celebration of Mike and Mandi’s impending nuptials.
It struck me this year, that while I’ve created a lot of books, some of which mean a lot to people, I think RobinsonFest might be my most meaningful creation. The number of people experiencing RobinsonFest is small in comparison to the novels, but it’s changing people’s lives forever. Why do I say that? Because I think if I kicked off tomorrow, my book sales would slowly dwindle to nothing, but I’m sure RobinsonFest and the friendships created there would continue in my absence.
To all who attended, thank you for being part of this experience. To those who had to cancel at the last minute for various reasons, we can’t wait to see you next year. For those who’ve been on the fence about attending, perhaps wondering if its worth the cost, find any RobinsonFest attendee and ask them if my post is accurate. The event has become the highlight of many of our years, and it has very little to do with me or my books, and everything to do with the amazing people who attend.
Thanks to Chris Kuzneski, Graham Brown, Ian Harper, and Kane Gilmour. You’re not only awesome authors, but super cool guys I’m happy to call friends. Thanks to Stan for driving, the laughs and kickass apple crisp. Lord Wankah, our new mascot, thank you for being you. Everyone else, you have my sincere gratitude and friendship, and I can’t wait to see you again next year!
Speaking of next year, RobinsonFest is moving to the summer! Mark your calendars for August 16 – 19, 2018. Events are TBD, but will likely include a whale watch, a lakeside BBQ and maybe some Nick’s Roast Beef. 😊 We’re going to open registration earlier this year, so stay tuned and prepare yourself for RobinsonFest 2018 – Summer of Seduction…erm…okay, maybe not that. But something catchy. See you then!
RobinsonFest 2017 Gallery
Photos are in random order and collected from a variety of sources, so there might be some duplicates.