Nerds, I am back from Hope Valley (aka. Langley, BC)! It was for the 3rd annual Hearties Family Reunion, also known as HFR3. I went for the very first time back in December 2016 for their 2nd reunion and this past weekend was the 3rd reunion and I was lucky enough to snag one ticket. So come and take a walk with me as I reminisce about HFR3!
HFR3 Day 1: Hearties Launch Party
As a second-time attendee, I was interested in seeing how things would be different. What was improved, would it be better the second time around? My first thought, being the Nerdie Foodie, I was hoping that I could survive the first night without eating anything until after the launch party had wrapped up. That was what happened last year at HFR2. We didn’t end up eating until close to 10pm and it was mainly fruit, cheese, and veggies and dip. This time we got to put our things down at any table that was open inside the ballroom and could line up for the buffet of tapas and appies before the event officially started. I was very happy about this!
Check out all the food choices I was able to fit on my plate!
Due to work, I couldn’t make it to the actual registration that happened earlier in the afternoon. I liked how they had a table this year for late arrivals. This was a major improvement from last year where everyone was lined up. You couldn’t see where to go at the registration table due to the large volume of people waiting to check in and pick up their name tags for the weekend before heading into a room full of chairs. Thank you HFR Planning Committee for changing that to an earlier check-in time and for having a separate table for late comers! It really helped the lineup move in an orderly fashion instead of a large clump.
This was also the time where you got your swag bags! This year it was a custom messenger bag that was filled with two beautiful pens, a re-freezable ice pack in the shape of a heart, three souvenir pins, a t-shirt, one promotional poster, a bookmark, luggage tag, and a flyer for a free copy of the show’s executive producer’s new devotional book called When God Calls the Heart. All the swag in the messenger bag were great! The only thing I didn’t really care for too much was the devotional book as I’m not Catholic nor Christian. The show does have elements of God in it and it is written in such a clever way that I don’t mind it and it doesn’t bother me at all. If anything, it really fits the show and that period of time during the era of the 1910s.
There were also two tables outside the ballroom across from the buffet tables. One table caught my interest first as it had a huge stack of knitted headbands. They were all made by Linda Manhart (aka. The Afghan Lady) and her mother. She is the same person who knitted each cast member their own afghan blankets! Each Heartie was allowed to take one headband for free. The other table, which I couldn’t get to until part way through the night, held two boxes filled with jewellery that was also free to each Heartie in attendance. Unfortunately, I was too late to get one as they had run out by the time I was able to get to the table.
Last year on Day 1, they had a lot of the fans talk about their personal experiences in watching the show and showed a small segment of the upcoming Christmas movie on the first day. Unfortunately, this year they didn’t show us any clips from the upcoming Christmas movie and I was a little disappointed. But I can understand if the timing didn’t work out for that to happen. Instead they brought out a few of the cast members whom had just wrapped up for the day on set. I liked the fact that this happened in Langley versus last year where it was closer to the airport on the other side of the city. This year’s HFR location was great as it was close to set. After the Q&A cast panel, the room was divided in half and we were informed that these actors and actresses were staying for a bit to sign one personal item. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we were only able to go to one table and not the other. I was disappointed in this as I would have loved to go to the other table to meet the other half of the group and thank them for coming out after their long day on set. Okay, and let’s face it, it would have been cool if they could sign the journal that I brought with me as my one item.
HFR3 Day 2: Meet the Stars
Day 2 of the reunion was all Q&A panels with the writers and producers of the show as well as with most of the cast (minus the ones who came by the night before) along with an autograph session with the cast. These were great because the questions that were asked were not only from executive producer Brian Bird, but from social media submitted by Hearties all around the world. After two panels (writers/producers and half of the cast) and a quick break, the autograph sessions started with people whom were schedule to go on the morning set tour. How they chose who to go first was similar to last year’s reunion. And because I was part of the afternoon tour group, I had to wait until after the lunch break for my group’s autograph session with the cast. That was a lot of waiting and at this point, we were about 30 minutes behind schedule, which I thought at that time was not too bad with such a large group of people.
While we were waiting, the afternoon group had a lunch break. Many thanks to Hallmark Channel for providing us lunch! While we ate and mingled amongst ourselves, they did play one episode of the show as well as an interview clip from some of the Facebook Admins of the Hearties Facebook page on loop to try and make the waiting less painful. Unfortunately, because the first group took a really long time to go through their autograph session, two of the stars, Lori Loughlin and Jack Wagner had a flight to catch and had to absolutely leave at 3pm to head to the airport just as the afternoon group were getting ready to enter the autograph room. But being the kind souls that they are, they didn’t want to disappoint any of the Hearties and they took selfies with everyone still in line instead of signing autographs. At this point we were about an hour-ish behind schedule.
They really pushed the afternoon group to get through the signing line quickly to try and make up the time. Once I got inside the room, I found the process to be very quick. I found out that you could take selfies with the cast on top of signing your one item. Being an NC lady, I of course prepared my phone for selfie mode while I was waiting in line and my journal ready for the signatures in my other hand. Efficiency! Plus, all I really want to do is just to say thank you to every cast member who came out that day to spend some time with the fans and giving up their day off to do so. They didn’t have to come to this event, but the fact that they want to be there makes it just that much more special because you feel appreciated to be a fan of the show just as much as we appreciate them. I think I was in and out of that room in about 5-8ish minutes and I was so proud of myself for not being a total spaz in front of them! *Bonus!*
As my table mate and I walked back towards the conference room, lo and behold Lori Laughlin and Jack Wagner were still getting through the afternoon line taking selfies and signing autographs. Wait, what? We were told that they would only be doing selfies. But you could clearly see that they were signing posters and taking selfies for everyone. I guess someone had a Sharpie with them and they started to oblige in doing both. As they reached the end of the line, Lori and Jack Wagner signed every item and took selfies with every last person. They even asked to make sure that they didn’t miss anyone. They. Are. Amazing. They didn’t have to do that. They could have just taken the back hallways and exits and leave without anyone else knowing that they left. But no, they took their travel time to get through every single person. They are beautiful souls and so good to their fans!
Part 2 of the cast Q&A came after all the signings were done. A massive thank you (and props) goes out to all the cast members, especially the kids as they stayed till the very end. It ended with a beautiful rendition of Hallelujah by Mr. Paul Greene with audience participation (even though I can’t sing worth a dime). I think we were all truly touched by this experience alone. It ended the panel session beautifully. Despite the efforts of event organizers, Day 2 ended about 2 hours past the scheduled end time.
HFR3 Day 3: Hope Valley Tour
The final day was the set tour at Jamestown Movie Set. What turned out to be a beautiful and sunny day for the morning tour group, I had hoped that it the sun would stay out for us in the afternoon tour. Nope. Mother nature had other plans. The sun started to disappear as we boarded our buses and the rain started to slowly descend down on us faster. By the time we started driving the rain was coming down. But the sliver of blue skies that was glimpsing over the horizon was giving me hope that the rain would stop when we got to go around the set.
Turned out it wasn’t too bad! The rain departed for the most part and only came back a couple times. The tours were given by the writer and producers of the show. I didn’t have the same tour person as last year (writer and executive producer Derek Thompson). This time around I had a fun tour on set with writer producer Paul Jackson. Paul was great! He had us in stiches as we were right on the heels of Derek’s group the entire time. The tour walked through all of the major buildings on set. This hasn’t changed much compared to last year’s tour. There was were a couple sets we weren’t allowed to go into because they were all ready set up for filming the next day. Although Paul did let us go into one of the blocked off sets on our own accord as long as we didn’t touch anything.
And the cookies! I can’t forget about the cookies. Last year we were only allowed to take one cookie out of the cookie box as there were two kinds to choose from. This year there were enough cookies for everyone to take one of each type of cookie and there were two kinds available, along with four kinds of apples were also available to take as a snack. The horse handler came out to set with one of the cast members horses. Hearties were allowed to feed him apples and take photos with him if they wanted to. The set tour was great as you could mingle and chat with the writers after the tour was finished. They are so candid and approachable just like the cast of the show. Everyone who works this show are just beautiful people inside and out.
If you love period pieces, this show is for you! It starts around 1910 and follows the trials and tribulations of the citizens lives in Coal/Hope Valley. At first, I was sceptical of the show, but after much prodding and poking from Rach, I watched the first episode and binged the rest of the series 3 seasons in a week. I. Was. Hooked. Thanks Rach! The writing is smart and engaging, and I hope it is here to stay for many more seasons! Congratulations to the writers, producers, cast and crew for making such a magical tv series! Thank you to Hallmark Channel for taking a chance on this show, and a MASSIVE thank you to CBC and Super Channel for broadcasting this locally made show in Canada! And if you want to go to a Hearties Family Reunion, here’s to hoping they make a HFR4 *fingers crossed*. It is run by Hearties International (501©) and all the proceeds from ticket sales 100% goes towards the running of the event, buying swag bags, securing venues, etc. Despite having to pay the ticket in USD (converting to CAD is expensive), this event is fun overall. It was great to see improvements in the check-in process and being fed earlier than later. If they can improve on things to do for Hearties that are waiting while one half of the group goes, maybe a game or some mini activity tables (ie. DIYs, arts and crafts?) scattered around the room so we can still roam around freely might help stave off the feeling of boredom. Otherwise, I’d say it was another successful event for Hearties International.
Til next time,