Thursday, August 14, 2014
Farewell To Fanfest Part II--"Memorabilia, Memories, Folks, & Flavors"
For many fans who are also collectors, autographs and photo opportunities are a major part of the event. Dozens of wrestling legends, current names, and up-and-comers are on-hand to create a true "rasslin' melting pot." One could argue that Dusty Rhodes, Ricky Steamboat, and Arn Anderson were positioned as this years headliners, but everyone has their own favorites. Rare appearances by territorial stars like "Number One" Paul Jones and Exotic Adrian Street and wife/valet Miss Linda were among the most exciting names for me, as was the convention debut of "Gigolo" Jimmy Del Rey. The former member of "The Heavenly Bodies" was able to get away from his post-wrestling career to reunite with Dr. Tom Prichard and Jim Cornette much to the delight of fans.
Another rare appearance was made on Sunday morning, when Bill Mercer was brought in to Fanfest as a vendor guest. The 88-year-old Mercer still seems as sharp as a tack and even looks very similar to how he did during his days as the voice of World Class Championship Wrestling. Mr. Mercer also has a place in history as part of one of the most fascinating periods of the 20th century--the JFK assassination. Shortly before he, himself, was assassinated, Lee Harvey Oswald was held at Dallas police headquarters being charged with the slaying of JFK. Reporters were positioned throughout the building and were able to ask Oswald a question or two as he was shuttled between rooms. One of those questions, caught on camera, was asked by Bill Mercer. There is something about the legendary voices of wrestling's past such as Bob Caudle, Lance Russell, and Mercer. The class that they each portrayed on television was far from an act.
It's always interesting to see just what fans are going after at Fanfest as far as the vendor room is concerned. The latest book or DVD? A rare treasure from the past? Maybe an action figure or two to take home for the kids. As is usually the case at Fanfest, a variety of all was available. Some of the most treasured items in my own collection were found over the years at Fanfest. The thrill and wonder of just what would be uncovered each year is yet another important aspect of the show that I will miss.
Of course, what's wrestling without surprises? Everyone was stunned to see David Crockett make an unannounced and rare appearance at Fanfest. One of the voices of his father's wrestling product, Crockett was happy and maybe even a bit stunned that so many fans wanted photos and autographs. Mr. Crockett's appearance was just another example of an experience that you just won't find anywhere else.