The Renfrew MiniMeet 2003

Renfrew, Ontario .... July 18, 19 & 20
Hosted By Shirley Carron

back row, l - r... Bob Darnell, Brenda
Giuseppin, Lydia, Bill Krueger,
 Steve & Barb Shortreed, Roger Mac Munn
kneeling.... Barry Tarr, Shirley Carron, Bill Riedel, Alicia Krey

The news came via e-mail and a post on the Letterville BB. Shirley Carron, owner of The Sign Shoppe in Renfrew, Ontario was hosting a small meet on the weekend of July 18, 19 & 20. The post mentioned her meet was being held during a festival in Renfrew known as Valley Fest. Since her shop is located on the main street, we seen an opportunity to spend some time with Letterhead pals and enjoy some sight-seeing. We invited our 6 year old Grand Daughter, Lydia come along.

Renfrew is a small town of roughly 8,000 people located in the Ottawa Valley. It's a very pretty area. It's also famous as the birthplace of the National Hockey League, which began in 1917 with The Renfrew Millionaires hockey club.

We arrived in Renfrew around Noon Friday. Our drive from Fergus took us through Algonquin Park, Ontario's best known Provincial Park. Our dream was to see a moose and we were not disappointed.

Our first encounter was about halfway through the Park. A bunch of cars were pulled over to the side of the road, always a good sign something of interest was nearby. Sure enough, out in the meadow a young bull moose was grazing. He was quite a distance away, but we were thrilled.

It wasn't 5 minutes later that we had our second encounter. We were alone on the road, still jabbering about the first moose, when a large cow emerged from the bush and crossed the road directly in front of us. Talk about being at the right place at the right time! We were the only ones there!

We arrived at the shop and met Shirley. She is a veteran of the Cornwall Mural Meet and Letterhead nuts! Just our kind of person! Then Bob Darnell shows up. We had no idea he was even coming! Matthew "Cherry" Bomb was new to me. He works with Shirley.

 Pam and Bill from Krueger Signs are here. Barry Tarr and his wife, Cherylee were already here waiting for the action to begin. Our longtime galpal Brenda Giuseppin, out of Classic Graphics soon arrived, followed by a well traveled Bill Riedel and Roger MacMunn.

In the past 10 days Bill and Roger have been to Kelowna, BC, attended last weekends
meet in Unity, Sask. and all the way back to Ontario. That's 7,300 miles, 6 Provinces and 3 States in 10 days. In addition, they managed to visit any and every woodcarver along the way. Now that has to be some sort of record!

It's Valley Fest time here in Renfrew. The main street is blocked off. Bands, blacksmiths, lumberjacks, beauty queens, and all sorts of spectators are out taking advantage of the beer gardens, live music and sunny weather. I'm having a difficult time not ducking out from time to time to take in all the sights and sounds happening outside. These Renfrew folks sure know how to throw a party.

Back inside, everyone is hard at work. Bob Darnell has started his panel, Bill and Roger are busy carving wings, Lydia is holed up in the backroom conducting "lessons" of some sort with whomever she can collar. A pickup outside is being prepped in preparation to becoming a fire truck. Anyone not working are watching and learning from those that are. Lots of questions and lots of answers.

We ate all our Dinners at nearby restaurants. Shirley made all the arrangements. The food was wonderful and we all had a great time telling stories. I even told a few of my secret road trip stories. Lots of laffs!

On Saturday night, the main street was partying to the music of Ambush, a terrific local band. Lydia and I both took a liking to the guitar player Mark. As a guitar player, I was very impressed with his playing. Lydia just thought he was cute. Her crush ended up costing Grandpa an autographed CD. And to think she is only 6!

My favorite memory of this meet has to be Bill Riedel. Over the years we have developed a very special bond with this man. Bill is the Dad or GrandDad we wish we all had. He never stops sharing his knowledge or doing whatever is necessary to make others feel special. We're all very honored and privileged to have a man of this caliber as a comrade.

Kids and animals always seem to have a special sense when it comes to people. Lydia and Bill developed a special relationship at last year's meet in Mars, PA. A few months after the meets, bill surprised Lydia with her very own  Riedel portrait. There was a wonderful moment in Renfrew when these two old pals were reunited that I caught on film. We love you Bill.

Over the weekend, Bill never stopped teaching. Sometimes it was a one on one lesson in hand lettering. Then there was his demo on creating the prismatic effect with goldleaf. That is just finished a wonderful demonstration on how to create prismatic letters with goldleaf. Then there was the carving!

Bill loves to carve. He worked around the clock to create a pair of foam wings that will be added to another project. Roger and many of the others took up the chisel and worked along with Bill. At the end of the day, Bill discovered a whole new use for his wings. He created his own angel!

With the possible exception of Letterville, all Letterhead Meets eventually have to end. We said our goodbyes to all and headed back west in search of more Moose. Lydia was all smiles as she listened to her new Ambush CD for the 21st. time. Only one month until the French Kiss A Brush Meet In Quebec!

Steve Shortreed


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