Whit’s End Harvest Festival — a Lord of the Rings inspired event —went viral after the Facebook event was created in August, generating more than 14,000 people interested in the first week of the event being posted. There were 17,327 people interested in the event, but only very few were able to attend the “soft launch” of Whit’s End Productions.
Tickets went live Sept. 12 and were sold out by Sept. 14. The tickets were $150, and 111 were available, the same number as Bilbo Baggin’s birthday.
Guests were shuttled from Northwood Middle School parking lot to a private location of the event along Lake Desire. Fantastical music blasted from the vans as they picked up elves, hobbits and wizards. The event led guests through the “green door” to enter and receive drink tickets, a personalized cup and map of the event. Event-goers stayed from 2 to 9 p.m. with several meals, a pub and a tobacco bar. Local musician Mossy Raven was the event’s “bard” and someone portrayed Lord of the Ring’s Gandalf the whole night for attendees. The night closed with fireworks.
This was the first event founder Steiner Whitmore and Samantha Dix had organized. Not expecting the Facebook event to go as viral as it did, and in the span of mere days, they bumped their private event capacity up to 111 tickets. And Lord of the Ring’s fans showed up. One family drove to Renton from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for the event and made a weekend trip of it. Another couple came down from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Tyler and Makala Bennett came to the event from Bremerton. Both grew up reading Lord of the Rings, enjoyed the movies and hope to do this every year.
“It’s all up in the air until we see it, but it’s awesome being able to kind of play Lord of the Rings and see Bilbo’s birthday party,” Tyler said as they waited for the shuttle.
The founder asked media not to attend to cause less distractions for event goers and stress, but Facebook posts after the event page show a lot of cosplay and decor bringing the Shire to life. Attendees who posted afterwards were happy with the event and want to attend again.
“Thank you guys for making this dream into a reality for so many of us!” one attendee said on the event page.
The event featured food as a big element, which Whitmore said was important to his events and growing up he always gravitated towards the kitchen. The new company’s website features a saying: “The kitchen is the heart of the home.”
“All our (family) dinners are there, so it’s really centered in the heart so that’s why we put that in there. Food is just that great equalizer,” Whitmore said. Whit’s End Productions plan to have a larger, public and kid-friendly festival in the spring that will include more vendors.