PennFest 2000 was held at the Holiday Inn in Caraopolis, Pittsburgh on August
19, 2000. A two day event that brought "CoCo" users together to celebrate
the 20th anniversary of the Tandy Color Computer. This page has a report
on that event as seen from it's co-organiser, Nickolas Marentes who flew
from Australia to attend.
PennFest 2000 Report
By Nickolas Marentes
"For those who were unable to attend, you missed one heck of a good time"
- Ober Bower
"Wow, what a great party!" - Allen Huffman
"The PennFest was billed as the CoCo's 20th birthday celebration, and certainly
lived up to its name" - Brother Jeremy
Back in 1999 and before PennFest '99, Ron Bull, the host of the Pennsylvania
based CoCoFests, was already drumming up interest for his next and last CoCoFest,
PennFest 2000. He was predicting it to be his biggest ever CoCoFest and since
it was also the CoCo's 20th birthday, he was dubbing it as "The Big Birthday
At the time, I had a small support role in the organising of PennFest '99.
I designed a simple PennFest '99 logo and made up two 7-foot wide banners
to hang from the ceiling at each end of the main hall. I also had two seminar
talks to give. The cost of my airfare from Australia to the Fest was over
$1500US and it was uncertain that I would recover enough of this expense
via sales of my newly released book, "CoCoNuts" and advance orders of my
unfinished game, "Gate Crasher". In the end, I figured that if I didn't attend
this Fest, I would never attend a CoCoFest. And with the CoCo community appearing
to be declining with every year that passed, I really didn't believe that
a 20th anniversary PennFest 2000 would actually become a reality.
PennFest '99 came and went and was a success. Attendance was up on the previous
PennFest and the enthusiasm was high with everyone enjoying the event. It
was also the first fest that Ron actually managed to cover his costs and
even take a small profit home for his efforts. I too managed to cover a good
piece of my airfare expenses and this was due to the incredible support of
all those CoCo users who purchased my products as well as donated money to
my cause. I greatly appreciated their support and I only wished I could have
done something more to show my gratitude.
After my experience with PennFest '99, I had a reasonable understanding of
how these CoCoFests work and I began creating a draft program schedule for
PennFest 2000. I wanted to take all the fun aspects of PennFest '99 and add
a bit of character from the old RainbowFest CoCoFests of the 80's. I knew
the number of active CoCo enthusiasts was nowhere near the numbers of the
80's so I had to take that into account. By around November of '99, I was
able to submit to Ron a complete working draft PennFest 2000 program schedule.
Ron loved it and that schedule, after a few adjustments, became the final
Unfortunately, trouble struck. Ron wanted to host it at the same location
as PennFest '99 at the Holiday Inn next to the Pittsburgh Airport. When he
approached the staff at the Holiday Inn to make a reservation for the hall,
he found that they had hiked up the room fees. Ron knew that it was a case
of finding another venue or charge more for admission. He tried locating
another venue but because Ron didn't live in the Pittsburgh area, it was
hard to make a decision on another venue without checking it out first. He
decided to send a message on the CoCo listserver explaining the situation
and announcing that if PennFest 2000 was to go ahead in that same location,
the entry fees would need to be raised to help cover costs. He needed a guarantee
that the funds would come in and was not prepared to hold a fest that would
burn a huge hole in his pocket. Unless he had enough advance paid vendors
before the end of '99, PennFest 2000 would have to be cancelled.
As it turned out, the enthusiasm from PennFest '99 carried over and he had
enough advance paid vendors, at $45 per table, to make the whole project
viable and so was able to officially announce in January of 2000, that PennFest
2000 was a go ahead.
Ron made me his official PennFest 2000 co-organiser and from that moment
on, we knew we had a busy time ahead of us to ensue that PennFest 2000 was
a bigger success than PennFest '99.
One of the problems with PennFest '99 was that the exhibition hall area was
too small. This along with the lack of a separate room for seminars made
the environment very cramped. Ron wanted to avoid that same problem and made
sure that this time around he booked a larger part of the main hall as well
as a separate seminar room. He put down his initial deposit to the Holiday
Inn as well as got the contract down on writing. This time, we were guaranteed
plenty of space.
While Ron was working on securing the hall, I was creating the official PennFest
2000 logo. I toyed with a few ideas and in the end decided upon the final
design which comprised a colored rainbow in the background with the words
"PennFest 2000" overlaid in front. The rainbow was to symbolise the era of
"The Rainbow" magazine and the early Rainbow CoCoFests. Balloons were also
placed on either side of the text to create a party atmosphere. To finish
it off, the words "The Big Birthday Bash" were added in smaller print above
the rainbow graphic and the sentence "Celebrating 20 Years of the Tandy Color
Computer" were added below. This was later changed to "The 20th Anniversary
Reunion of the Tandy Color Computer" as a suggestion from famous CoCo games
programmer, Steve Bjork. The idea of using the word "Reunion" was to attract
more of the famous personalities in the CoCo world from the 80's. Steve also
suggested we emphasise the fact that this is to be the last PennFest so I
added the words "The Last PennFest" to the web page version of the logo.
Ron and I knew that the hardest part of the preparation process was getting
the word out to people about the Fest and convincing them that we are serious
about making this a memorable event. We had no commercial magazines such
as The Rainbow or '68 Micros anymore to advertise to CoCo users so I decided
to create an official web site that we could use to not only promote the
fest but also to keep the CoCo community informed of our developments. On
that web page, I also created a list of people who had advance paid and were
therefore financially committed to attend as well as those who had contacted
us about their plans to attend. This allowed others who were still indecisive
to get a good idea as to who else was planning to attend.
We decided to create a small incentive for people to advance pay for their
admission by offering a discount on the admission fee of $10 per day to $7.50
per day as well as the chance to win an authentic Australian aboriginal boomerang
that I would bring along with me.
also created a 4 page fest guide, nice custom made and printed name badges
with the PennFest 2000 logo printed in color as well as vendor name banners
pinned to the front of each table.
We began advertising the fest in any way we could. We put messages up on
the CoCo newsgroup, sent CoCo users invitations via e-mail, designed a small
banner advert for other CoCo users to add to their web page and even sent
some messages on the IBM newsgroup lists.
Despite all the effort, we knew that what we really needed to attract people
was a famous personality. We began locating and contacting as many CoCo
illuminaries of past that we could. We contacted people like Steve Bjork,
Marty Goodman, Dennis Kitsz, Frank Hogg and Mark Seigel. All of them wished
they could attend but unfortunately, the timing was not right for them. They
either could not get time away from their work or the finances were not available
for such a distant trip.
Kevin Darling was one that Ron had been trying to attract since his first
fest so Ron decided to ring him up. Bingo! He agreed and we immediately updated
the web page and announced on the newsgroup of his attendance. But I wanted
more. I wanted to guarantee that there would be a special guest so I decided
that we needed at least three special guests so the search for another two
began. After much searching, we managed to attract Jeremy Spiller, creator
of the classic CoCo3 games "Zenix" and "Crystal City" and Mark Hawkins from
We also had filled all our seminar spots with Russ Le Blang, L. Curtis Boyle,
Ober Boyer, Allen Huffman and me.
Here is the PennFest 2000 Program Schedule:
|08:30am Exhibition Hall Open
||08:30am Exhibition Hall Open
|09:00am Official Opening
||09:00am Seminar by Ober Bower
|10:30am Seminar by Russ Le Blang
||10:00am Morning Service with Brother Jeremy
||11:00am Seminar by Nickolas Marentes
|01:30pm Seminar by L. Curtis Boyle
|02:30pm CoCo Team Trivia Competition
||01:30pm Seminar by Allen Huffman
|04:00pm Birthday Celebrations
||02:30pm No-Minimum-Bid Auction
|05:30pm Exhibition Hall Closed
||05:00pm Exhibition Hall Closed
|07:30pm Open Forum Discussion
There was an awful lot of preparation for this Fest but finally, within two
weeks of the actual fest date, we were ready and it was time for me to pack
my luggage for the long journey from Australia!
a plane cancellation at my home town of Brisbane due to the plane having
one of it's passenger doors ripped of by a ground crew vehicle in Melbourne
airport the day before, I was forced to catch the next flight two hours later
headed for Melbourne. There I had to stay at a nearby hotel overnight since
my main flight to the US wasn't till the morning. This worked out well because
it gave me a chance to have a good night's sleep before embarking for my
13-hour flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles flying via United Airlines.
After three servings of airplane food and four boring in-flight movies which
I can't even remember the names of, I finally arrived in LA. I began planning
what I was going to say to the customs officials when they stopped me to
inspect my baggage. What will I say when they ask me what I am doing with
a large four foot colored foam card rainbow cut up into six segments to fit
into my suitcase? Should I tell them that I was organising a Tandy Color
Computer Festival in Pittsburgh? Would they believe that anyone could be
Luckily, they didn't ask to inspect my suitcase and I was soon on my way
for the remainder of my journey. A two hour flight from Los Angeles to Denver
then another one hour flight to my final destination of Kansas City, Missouri
where I was to be picked up by Jim Davis (CFDM) and his dad... if they hadn't
changed their minds! :)
I stayed with Jim and his parents for two days and during this time, we had
to finalise a few preparations for the fest. We hired a vehicle and loaded
everything we would need to take with us on the Thursday evening before the
fest. We managed about 5 hours sleep before waking up, getting dressed and
heading off for Pittsburgh at 11pm. We had to stop by and pick up our good
friend Godfrey Moll nearby before finally embarking on our 15-hour drive
to Pittsburgh. We enjoyed Godfrey's company as he provided us with many
fascinating stories from his life.
Arrival - Friday Evening Setup
arrived at Pittsburgh about 4pm, Friday afternoon. Jim, Godfrey and I shared
a room at the Holiday Inn so that we could be close to the fest itself. After
logging in at the front desk, we immediately began unloading our vehicle.
Ron had opened the hall by then so we unloaded all the fest related items
in behind our designated tables.
first task after unloading was to confirm with Ron if there had been any
vendor cancellations. As I had suspected, Russ Le Blang was unable to attend
due to his mother having suffered a stroke a few weeks before. This meant
that our first seminar talk hosted by Russ would have to be cancelled. Then
Ron told me that Tony Podraza of the Glenside group was unable to attend
but that Carl Boll was to take his place. Unfortunately, Carl also was unable
to attend so this left another two tables unfilled.
I reshuffled the table assignments a bit and adjusted their positions to
compensate. Scott Griepentrog arrived and said that he will take another
table bringing him to three. After some shuffling of tables, we finally had
everything in place and we began laying out the table cloths.
and Ron began setting up their tables and I decided to start setting up the
PennFest 2000 wall banner that was to expand to 14 feet in width and almost
reach the ceiling. It was quite a challenge setting up the banner and with
the help of Dave Deiter, Godfrey Moll and Calvin Wilcox, we finally had it
up in all it's glory complete with the five models of CoCo's released by
Tandy. The CoCo's were supplied by Dave Poitras, Ober Bower and John Kowalski.
The only things missing were the VCR and TV set which were to run a video
that John Kowalski had compiled that displayed a large variety of memorable
CoCo software over the last 20 years.
I approached the Holiday Inn staff if they had a VCR and TV that we could
borrow and they quite willingly obliged... for a $150 fee!! Well, there goes
the profits we thought but to our rescue came Jason Reighard! He lives not
too far from the fest and offered to bring his units from home the following
morning before the doors officially open.
After the hard work of setting up the main banner, I proceeded to start setting
up my table, which I was sharing with John Kowalski.
Many of the vendors had already setup their tables and more were rolling
up as the night rolled on. By around 11pm, everything was as setup as possible
and we decided to head off and get some sleep.
Day 1 - Saturday 19
The alarm went off at exactly 6am and Godfrey, Jim and I began preparing
ourselves for the big day ahead. After a quick breakfast, we headed for the
most of the setting up had been done the night before, only a few things
remained. The most important was the balloons!! Luckily, Ron was on cue and
had arranged with the Holiday Inn staff to provide the helium filled balloons.
Godfrey Moll, Ray Watts, Ken Baker, Calvin Wilcox and several others all
pitched in to get the balloons into position and hang up all the streamers.
I finished off pinning the vendor name table banners to the front of each
table. Jason Reighard arrived with his TV and VCR and I had it hooked up
and running John's demo tape in no time. Allen Huffman arrived and began
setting up his table along with his live cam. The place was looking hot and
had a great party atmosphere to it.
Once everything was done and we were ready to open the doors, I stood back
and marvelled at what we all had achieved as a team. The view was awesome!!
doors opened at 8.30am and people started to enter. Just outside the doors,
Diane Bull was at the registration desk. Every person who entered the fest
had to fill out a registration form. They also received a name badge that
had their name preprinted if they were advance paid or hand written if not,
a four page fest guide and a free gift in the form of a 542 page hard bound
book titled "OS-9 Insights - An Advanced Programmers Guide to OS-9" by Peter
Dibble. The books were obtained and donated for PennFest 2000 by James Jones
and delivered to the fest via Paul Zibaila. Thank you both James and Paul!
should also mention that Dave Poitras had his PennFest 2000 sign setup on
the registration desk. He had it custom made from Perspex on the Thursday
before the fest and it looked fantastic! Thank you Dave... and thanks for
the PennFest 2000 mouse pad gift!
Inside, people began making the rounds from table to table, examining what
was on display and meeting up with other fellow CoCo'ists. I was running
around making sure everything was in order and luckily, Godfrey Moll was
able to man my table and take any sales for me while I was away. Greatly
Sub-Etha Soft-Wear (Allen Huffman)
Allen had made up badges and t-shirts specifically for the show as well as
a limited edition "It Came From Fort Worth" T-shirt which he raffled off.
He also provided the live cam, maintained the IRC and for a short time on
the Sunday afternoon, had streaming audio going over the internet. Allen's
contribution to the fest is immeasurable and Ron and I were very grateful
for his support.
Nickolas Marentes and John Kowalski
John and I shared a single table. John had a CoCo3 set up and displayed his
new 6000+ hi-color viewer and his new "Spinning CoCo3 Animation". He also
displayed some of his older classic demos that he has become famous for and
was selling these on disk. What John has created on the CoCo3 can only be
described as miraculous and hopefully we will one day see him with his name
in the credits of a full commercial CoCo3 game.
I was selling the complete version of "Gate Crasher" as well as my previous
CoCo3 efforts, "Pac-Man Tribute" and the "CoCoNuts" book of interviews. I
had also planned to sell the official PennFest 2000 T-shirt. I had made up
30 white t-shirts with the PennFest 2000 logo printed on the front but they
proved so popular that almost all were sold before I even left Australia!
To say that I misjudged the popularity of these t-shirts is an understatement!!
Funnily enough, not very many people actually wore the t-shirts at the fest,
preferring to keep them as a souvenir of the show. For those who missed out
on getting a T-shirt, they had the option to purchase one from Allen Huffman
or Ray Watts who also made up t-shirts of their own.
CFDM (Jim Davis)
was there collecting subscribers to his disk magazine "CoCo Friends Disk
Magazine" as well as having a large range of the old Sundog Software packages
such as "The Contras", "Zenix" and "Crystal City. These latter two were written
by a young fellow by the name of Jeremy Spiller when he was 15 years of age.
As it happened, Jeremy Spiller was one of the special guests at the fest
and seeing his old games running again on a real CoCo3 brought back many
fond memories of his time with the CoCo.
I also wish to personally thank Jim for everything that he has done for me
since I returned to the CoCo community. He offered me a stay in the US while
I was there and he has helped me with some of the preparations with the fest,
not to mention playing the "road hog" by doing all the driving from his home
town of Nixa in southern Missouri to the fest location at Caraopolis, Pittsburgh,
PA. A long 15 hour drive which he accomplished safely and without incident.
He has also acted as my US distributor for all my products. Thanks a million
CoCoMan (Jason Reighard)
Not only did Jason come to our assistance when we were needing a TV and VCR
for the CoCo historical display, he also had an interesting booth filled
with an assortment of interesting CoCo items as well as many non-CoCo items
such as classic Atari game cartridges. I am a bit of a collector of these
game cartridges from Atari and found various items, which I purchased to
add to my collection back home.
This table was to be manned by Joe Scinta but he was unable to attend. Luckily,
Ron had made the trip to New York several weeks earlier and loaded up a pickup
full of Ken-Ton gear for the fest. Items included CoCo3's, SCSI hard drives
and "under wear" cables that allowed you to install an expansion card inside
the CoCo and under the mainboard. The other item that we were hoping to have
on display was a "CoCo4" that Ken-Ton Electronics and Frank Hogg Laboratories
were working on in the early 90's. This was to be similar to Frank's TC-9
but with more expandability. The unit that Joe has was not operational and
the hope was that he could have it up and running in time for the fest.
Unfortunately, things didn't work out in time.
BullCo Computers (Ron Bull)
The host of the show also had a ton of PC odds and ends for sale. Many of
the items were brought from his shop and created quite a mountain of goodies.
Buy_CoCo.com (Scott Griepentrog)
Scott had two tables booked for the show but when he heard that Glenside
were not able to make it, he said that he will take both of their tables... AS
WELL! In the end, after the table reshuffling, I was able to give him at
least one more table making a total of three. He had many boxes of CoCo things
that he had accumulated over the years and filled up all his space easily.
He was also showing everyone his "wearable" windows computer and his combined
mobile phone and palm pilot unit. A true geek!
David and Susan Poitras
The big man was there with an assortment of CoCo goodies. He also had Dennis
Kitsz's "Learning the 6809". As I mentioned previously, David contributed
most of the CoCo's for the CoCo historical display. One of the CoCo's, a
first model gray case unit, was one of the very early serial numbers that
rolled off the production line and it was in almost mint condition. A real
Grizzly Enterprises (Ray Watts)
Ray was there with his famous custom Grizzly CoCo3 with built-in SCSI controller,
hard drive, zip drive, parallel port and RTC all wrapped together is a custom
made case. One of the best CoCo repacks ever ! He also showed us his "alter-ego"
grizzly rubber mask transformation. Yikes!
Where Tandy left off, Ken took over. He is the only person in the world that
one can buy a "brand new", still in the box, CoCo3 ! He and his wife Janet
were manning their booth and they also had his CoCo based telephone line
testing unit on display again.
Monk-o-Ware (Brother Jeremy)
What's a CoCo fest without Brother Jeremy? Again he had his prototype CoCo3's
on display as well as offering for sale the OS-9 Level II Upgrade. This time,
we also had the programmer of this software, Kevin Darling as one of our
W. Zibaila II
Paul brought along an assortment of CoCo items for sale as well as offering
a Extended BASIC ROM upgrade that replaced the famous "Three Mugsters" image
in the ROM for a monochrome version of the PennFest 2000 logo. One of the
three mugsters, Mark Hawkins, was actually one of our special guests !
Bargeman Research Labs (Karl Sefcik)
Karl was there supporting the fest with his star trek and movie material.
Karl also had recently purchased one of those new Honda Insight hybrid gas
and electric cars and he showed a few people it's inner workings.
Men (Brian Schubring)
Brian had an impressive display of music equipment linked together to his
PC and CoCo via midi. He also provided all the audio for the fest from background
music to the microphones. Thanks Brian!
At about 9.15 am, Ron officially welcomed everyone to PennFest 2000 and then
after the playing of the US and Australian national anthems courtesy of Brian
Schubring with his music equipment and Brother Jeremy on keyboards, I was
called to give my opening speech.
Good morning and welcome all to PennFest 2000 !!
My name is Nickolas Marentes and I am the PennFest 2000 co-organizer
working alongside Ron Bull. I have flown all the way from Australia to help
organise this fest .... and yes, I am crazy!!
Last year, even before PennFest '99 started, Ron would tell me how he
was going to have a 20th anniversary CoCo celebration. He was calling it, "The
Big Birthday Bash". Now his dream has become a reality and looking from where
I stand, this is going to be one hell of a CoCoFest!!
Isn't it amazing that after 20 years, and almost 10 years after it's
discontinuation, a small 8 bit computer system can continue to bring
people from all over the country, together again for yet another CoCoFest.
What is it about this small box of outdated electronics that drives people
to do this?
For some, it is a chance to see new products developed by dedicated
enthusiasts. For others it is a chance to pick up a few bargains from the
various vendors who attend.
I believe that for many, it is the chance to meet up with old friends
and rekindle old memories. Old memories of discovery, learning and enlightenment.
When the computer world was young and still dominated by the enthusiast eager
to learn how their little computers worked and share that knowledge with
The computer industry has moved on and computers have become powerful
tools, most people nowadays don't even know what a CoCo is. And while much
of the media has rewritten the history of the personal computer as only ever
having two players, Apple and IBM, we here today will celebrate the 20th
anniversary of the Tandy Color Computer.
In our memories, the CoCo will live forever!!
I mentioned, we had three special guests scheduled to attend. Jeremy Spiller,
creator of two of the most spectacular arcade type games ever created for
the CoCo3, "Zenix" and "Crystal City" had arrived with his friend, Kim Newell.
Hawkins who was the primary engineer, customer coordinator and project manager
when Microware was porting it's 6809 products to the CoCo arrived at around
11.30 am with James Jones. Mark was also one of the "Three Amigos" that appears
on the screen image embedded into the BASIC ROM and also contributed to the
development of the Super Extended Color Basic language built into every CoCo3.
Kevin Darling, known for his work with Microware and Tandy on the development
of the OS-9 Level II upgrade, development of the K-Windows graphical user
interface for the MM/1 and author of the book "Inside OS-9 Level II", arrived
just after lunch time.
Afternoon Seminar with L. Curtis Boyle
All of the morning was devoted to the vendors and exhibitors. Originally,
a seminar with Russ Le Blang was scheduled for 10.30 am but as mentioned
earlier in this report, Russ was unable to attend due to his mothers illness.
12.00 noon, the doors closed and everyone went our for lunch. A large group
gathered together at Bob Evans, which was almost right across the street
from the Holiday Inn. Around 1pm, people began making their way back to the
The first actual seminar of the fest was by L. Curtis Boyle and was scheduled
for 1.30pm. It was held in the separate seminar room, which was actually
a boardroom with a huge oval table in the middle. Curtis had brought along
his TC-9 and gave a Q&A style talk about it and his work with NitrOS9.
During the seminar and in the main hall room, Brother Jeremy played an excellent
rendition of the famous Australian hit from the 70's by Rolf Harris, "Tie
Me Kangaroo Down Sport". He even managed a convincing Aussie accent. Joined
in by James Jones and Allen Huffman, it was certainly a sight to see and
CoCo Team Trivia
The CoCo Team trivia was scheduled to begin at 2.30 pm but by this time we
were running at least half an hour over schedule. I hosted the trivia competition
with the help of John Kowalski as the marker and L. Curtis Boyle as the "runner",
being the person who ran around to each table and collected the written answers
from each team.
We had four teams of approximately six people on each. Before the questions
could begin, each team had to assign themselves a team name that had the
word "CoCo" in it. The team's names chosen were...
Team 1: CoCoCreamers Team 2: CoCoMotive
Team 3: RoCoCo
Team 4: CoCo Irregardless
The entire trivia competition consisted of a total of 15 questions with many
of them containing up to 5 sub-questions. There were a variety of questions
ranging from questions that dealt with CoCo History, CoCo Graphics Software,
CoCo Games, Hardware Knowledge and Rainbow Magazine. We even had two varieties
of Risk questions, two audio recognition questions, a program debugging question
and a memory activity question. In all, a good variety that had everyone
thinking, talking and having fun!
The winning team was "RoCoCo" and each player on that team received a certificate
of merit as accomplished "CoCoNUTS"!!
Let the Party Begin!
Originally scheduled for a 4.00pm start, we were running behind schedule
by just over half an hour so we immediately got started on the birthday
festivities part of the day.
Bull supplied two large birthday cakes, one with a picture of a CoCo3 "printed"
onto the icing and the other with a picture of the CM-8 monitor. The original
picture designs were created by John Kowalski and these images seem to have
become the defacto standard for many CoCo web pages and publications.
Huffman was the master of ceremonies and he called for our three special
guests to come up to the front and simultaneously cut the cake after everyone
sang Happy Birthday CoCo. It was then up to our three guests to cut up the
cake into equal pieces for distribution among everyone in the room. Mark
and Kevin carefully sliced theirs up, leaving the image of the CoCo3 intact
while Jeremy decided to apply the
hand by equally slicing it up into 64 equal pieces, one for each color of
the CoCo's palette. After the cake, everyone came up for a piece of cake.
Brother Jeremy then got up the front and began telling us his story of how
he originally obtained the rights to distribute the OS-9 Level 2 upgrade.
He told us how he chose
sing a song over the phone to Kevin Darling, the owner of the upgrade, pleading
for its release. Brother Jeremy has told this story before at previous CoCoFests
but this was the very first time that he was able to sing his famous "Hello
Darling" song directly to Kevin Darling himself!! Kevin was clearly blushed
by the event and I'm sure will remain as one of the great memories that he
will keep of this fest.
Along with Brother Jeremy, a few more people joined in on the song and music
sessions and everyone was having a great time.
The birthday festivities continued past the scheduled 5.30pm finish time
and I called to have all the raffles drawn before we closed off the festivities.
first raffle draw was for the genuine Australian aboriginal boomerang prize.
This raffle was held amongst all those who advance paid for their admission
tickets. All these people's names were written down onto separate pieces
of paper and mixed in a box. Allen Huffman then drew a name from the box
at random and the winner was Joann Snell.
During the day, I was selling "Aussie Raffle" tickets for $5 each with the
money collected going towards recouping some of my $1500 airfare expense.
I had brought along with me from Australia a large variety of Australian
souvenirs ranging from boomerangs of various sizes, a T-shirt, Australian
biscuits, books about "How to be Normal in Australia", music CD, key chains,
wall banners, plates and more. As each winning entry was pulled randomly
from the box, that winner would choose
prize from the remaining pool and then he/she would pull the next winner
from the box. This continued till all the prizes had been taken. James Jones
made an absolute killing winning so many of the prizes that he donated some
of his winnings back into the prize pool! Goes to show you have to be in
it to win it and James had definitely guaranteed himself a win by purchasing
a large number of tickets. Thank you James and thank you to everyone who
After all the scheduled raffles had been drawn, it was off to get some supper
and return at around 7.30pm for our next scheduled event, the Open Forum
The Open Forum discussion started a little later at around 8.30pm. I had
rearranged the front central area of the hall with chairs for people to sit
at with the three main guests setup with a long table just in front of the
main PennFest 2000 banner. On the left sat Mark Hawkins, in the centre was
Jeremy Spiller and on the right was Kevin Darling. Two Microphones were setup
courtesy of Brian Schubring.
the next almost three hours, people would raise their hand and direct questions
at the guests. Everything from technical questions on OS-9 to the real story
of how that image in the CoCo3 ROM came about. It was a highly engrossing
forum and had everyone at the edge of their seats. For some, attending the
forum was the highlight of the fest and more than justified the journey to
Unfortunately, I cannot repeat the three hours worth of conversation in this
report but I did actually video tape over 30 minutes worth and will be making
the recording available on a PC/MAC CD-ROM in video mpeg format along with
many other video clips from the fest.
After the forum finished, which was far later than I had expected, I called
upon anyone who is interested to help with the judging of the "PennFest 2000
Theme Song Competition" that I had announced on the web page. Over the months
before the fest, five entries were submitted.
"Time for Bjork" by Steve Secord
"PennFest 2000" by Nickolas Marentes
"Industry Standard CoCo" by Kevin Gallant
"Techno CoCo" by Stuart Wyss
"Techno TRS" by Stuart Wyss
I played each of these tracks in turn as everyone listened and in the end,
we held the vote. The winning entry was "Techno TRS" by Stuart Wyss and he
won an Australian souvenir t-shirt. Stuart wasn't in attendance at the fest
to collect his prize and will have it posted to him. Thank you to everyone
who submitted an entry to this competition and I will make the tracks available
on the PennFest 2000 CD coming out later.
The doors for day one finally closed at 11.30pm and we all headed off for
some much needed sleep.
Day Two - Sunday 20
Day two was scheduled to be a bit slower in pace than Day 1. The plan was
that there would be some people who would only be able to attend one of the
two days and in most cases, that was the Saturday. Therefore, most of the
activities and main events were packed into that day while day 2 had more
seminars that people could attend at a more leisurely pace... that was the
doors opened at 8.30 am but not many people showed up. I guess many of them
chose to sleep in a bit longer in order to recover from the roller coaster
ride that was the day before.
9.00 am we were scheduled for our first seminar by Ober Bower on "Repacking
the CoCo into a PC case". We had to delay his seminar by half an hour while
we waited for more people to show up. Eventually, people began to roll up
and he was able to start his seminar. Due to my duties as co-organiser, I
was unfortunately unable to attend so I am unable to comment except that
it had gone well.
was scheduled for Brother Jeremy's morning service but due to the previous
delay, it too started late. We were running at least 30 minutes behind schedule
for the day and I knew that something had to be cancelled in order to get
us back on track. My seminar was to follow and scheduled for an 11.00 am start
but the time was about 11.30 am and we had a strict deadline to have the seminar
talks finished by 12 noon so that we can break for lunch.
I decided to cancel my talk which was to be about the development of my new
game "Gate Crasher". This would then put us back on schedule for Allen Huffman's
talk right after lunch.
plan was doomed as a few people convinced me to go ahead so I decided to
hold my seminar talk within the area in the main hall that I had assigned
as the unscheduled talk area. I was planning on cutting my talk to the bare
essentials with a short Q&A at the end, 30 minutes tops which actually
suited me fine because I hadn't prepared anything for it !!
Well, Jeremy Spiller convinced me to go ahead with it and joined me for the
talk, making it a combined "Zenix/Crystal City" and "Gate Crasher" talk.
It was a very interesting little talk with some good questions asked by the
small audience that participated and Jeremy helped add more depth to the
discussion. The down side was that we were well over the 12 noon cutoff! I
think it was past 12.30 pm when Ron finally demanded we all break for lunch.
what a lunch !! A large group of us gathered at the Pizza Hut just down and
across the road from the hotel. After wasting what seemed like 20 minutes
deciding what everyone was going to order, John Kowalski and I got up and
ordered eight large pizzas of mixed varieties and decided that everyone just
pool in whatever money they feel right to pay for it.
The plan worked like a charm and before you knew it, we were scoffing down
pizza that would make the pizza crazy "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" bow
their heads in defeat !!
was a great meal but there was a price... we were almost an hour behind
schedule and we still had Allen Huffman's seminar about the "Post Rainbow
Fests" followed by Ron's No-Minimum-Bid Auction. Things started to wind down
by around 3 pm and the auction was an important revenue maker for recovering
costs for the fest. Allen was also very busy running the live cam and IRC.
"Hey Nick! I've got streaming audio happening over here!" Allen calls. That
guy is a miracle worker !!
I discussed the time situation with Allen and we came to an agreement to
cancel his seminar or at least push it till after the auction. This put the
auction back on schedule but I was worried that after the auction, people
would start leaving and there wouldn't be enough people to hold Allen's talk.
As it turned out, I was right and I was sorry to have to cancel this seminar
that I was keenly looking forward to.
Going Once...Going Twice...Sold!
The auction was run by Ron himself and was a blazing success. Some real bargains
were snapped up by attendees but the one that was most memorable for me was
when Ron put up one of my DigiScan video digitisers for auction. These were
the units that I along with my friend David Meiklejohn put together and were
sold via Farna Systems in the early 90's. It was the best and final version
of the digitiser that we had developed.
bidding action really hotted up for this item when David Poitras and Allen
Huffman both started battling for the unit. It had gone beyond two men's
desire to own the device. It had become personal !!
The two of them battled on and when Ron announced that the winner would have
the manual signed by the designer, all hell broke loose!
Finally Dave gave in, only because he already owned a unit and Allen was
left to pay $80 for his winning trophy which I gladly signed. Still foaming
at the mouth, the two contestants showed their sportsmanship and shook hands.
It was a great battle and raised plenty of laughter by all who watched.
Ron and I greatly appreciate the support of all those who supported the auction
and helped us raise enough funds to cover expenses and render the fest
financially burden free.
always easier to destroy something than it is to build it and this was proven
by the short amount of time it took for all the vendors to pack their things
and all the decorations and banners to be dismantled. The fest was officially
over and it had been a great success.
had already begun the journey home while a few others had planned to stay
at their hotels for the night and leave the next day after a good night's
sleep. Godfrey, Jim and I decided on the latter but first, there was supper
A large group had gathered to meet for supper at a Chinese restaurant nearby
and this is where I got to have a tour of Karl Sefcik's gas/electric hybrid
car, the Honda Insight. Neat car! Very impressive and I was wondering when
the wings were going to unfold and the car blast off for outer space! It
looked like a space craft.
The group at the restaurant included Ron and Diane Bull, Paul Zibaila and
his daughter, Godfrey Moll, Jim Davis, Scott Greipentrog, Brian Schubring,
Karl Sefcik, John Kowalski and Shanna Warnok with son Steven, Brother Jeremy,
Calvin Wilcox and Dave Kelly. The food was good and when we were finished,
we all said our final goodbyes in the car park and went our separate ways.
We returned to the Holiday Inn where we had been staying and Godfrey and
Jim soon after went to sleep. I had arranged to meet up with John Kowalski,
who was also staying in the same hotel, later on in the foyer where we stayed
up till midnight "talking shop". With the fest out of the way, it was the
first opportunity we could sit down together and talk in a relaxed atmosphere.
The Journey Home
The next morning we loaded all our belongings into the van and when we saw
that John was still asleep, we decided to go get breakfast and return to
meet up with John and Shanna. We had arranged to meet up with them and have
lunch and do a bit of sight seeing before we embarked for our drive home.
We saw Karl again as he too was loading up his car and for the second time,
we said our goodbyes to him.
After breakfast we returned and this time John was up and loading up his
car. Jim handed in the room key to the hotel and just as we were about to
leave, Karl appears again! We began to suspect that he was following us.
For the third time we said our goodbyes.
getting lost driving around with John and Shanna following in their car,
we successfully managed to get lost in Carnagie around the Pittsburgh area.
We did a bit... make that a lot... of back tracking when suddenly while
driving past a gas station, I noticed a silver Honda Insight with it's owner
bent down on the ground and backside up in the air. It's Karl !!!
We tried to navigate back so that I could take a picture but just got more
lost in the process . The chances of him taking the same "back street route"
through Pittsburgh must have been a million to one! We were quite blown away
and we were wondering whether now was a good time to buy up a few lottery
Finally, we found a local shopping center and decided to park, eat and have
a look around before finally saying our final goodbyes and embarking on the
long drive back to Missouri.
Again, "Road Hog Jim" showed us that he really knew how to handle the wheel
as he drove us back home. With Godfrey to keep us company again, we were
cruising. Apart from a tipped over truck on the other side of the road with
the traffic banked up for miles behind it, the drive back was quite
uneventful... except for one incident.
had been driving for several hours and it had become dark. Jim wanted to
see how far we could get without stopping at a rest area so that we didn't
waste too much time. Finally our bladders gave up and we decided to stop
at the Greenfield rest area, almost 5 hours away from Pittsburgh. As we
approached the parking lot we noticed a silver Honda Insight the same as
Karl Sefcik's. The three of us froze, silent and with the same thought running
through our minds. "Is that Karl ?!"
We parked right next to the Honda and lo and behold, Karl was sleeping in
the front seat. I quickly got out the camera and we all got out, our laughing
waking him. We should have bought that lottery ticket!
After spending the next day with Jim's family in Missouri, it was time to
head off to Kansas City to catch my flight home. Eventually I was on a plane
from Kansas City to Denver then on to San Francisco where I boarded the big
747 Jumbo headed for Sydney, Australia, home of the 2000 Olympic Games due
in a month's time. From there a domestic flight finally took me to my home
city of Brisbane. It was good to get back to the family. A tiring and very
draining trip that my jet lag was not going to let me forget too soon!
So how many attended? Since everyone who entered the fest had to fill out
their name on a registration form, I have an accurate record of who actually
attended. Exactly 69 registrations were collected and here is a list of all
those people's names sorted alphabetically by surname.
Richard Albers, Janet Baker, Kenneth Baker, Ray Baumiller, George H. Bethea
Jr., Ober Bower, Susan Bower, L. Curtis Boyle, Diane Bull, Ron Bull, Carolyn
Combes, Jerry Combes, Brenda Crislip, Richard E. Crislip, Kevin Darling,
Jim Davis, David Deiter, Jason Eaby, Scott Griepentrog, Wally Grossman, Kerry
L. Hamilton, Susan Hamilton, Mark Hawkins, David Hazelton, Dona Hertel, Kevin
H. Hobbes, Allen Huffman, E. Jaquay, Brother Jeremy, James Jones, Ray Justus,
Dave Kelly, Fred Kolesar, Keith Kounovsky, John Kowalski, Shanna Warnok,
Steven Kowalski, Brian Laver, John W. Linville, Kris Linville, Nickolas Marentes,
Jason Menezes, Godfrey Moll, Kimberly Newell, Dave Patrick, Kathy Pease,
Don E. Peters, David Poitras, Susan Poitras, Jason Reighard, John Riddle,
Paul Riddle, Alfredo T. Santos, Brian Schubring, Karl Sefcik, Sandra Smith,
David E. Snell, Joann W. Snell, John D. Snell, Debra Snow, Ed Snow, Jeremy
Spiller, John R. Strong, Shirley Strong, Michelle Turner, Ray Watts, Randy
Weaver, Calvin Wilcox, Paul W. Zibaila II.
Thank You CoCoNuts!
The fest was a great success and I met many wonderful people along the way.
People of whom without, would have made the fest meaningless. I will not
forget the help and support that everyone offered and I would like to especially thank the Davis family for offering me a place to stay and especially Jim
Davis for taking time off from his heavy work schedule to accommodate me
during my stay in the US.
To close off this report, I wish to thank everyone who attended the fest.
I'd especially like to thank all those people who helped with the organisation
of the fest. I was originally going to individually list them and their
contribution but I found that the list was way too long and the risk
of leaving people out was too great. Ron Bull and I greatly appreciate all
these people's efforts and contributions that helped make this 20th anniversary
celebration a most enjoyable and memorable occasion.