April 13-15, 2012
Story & Photos by:  Chris "Darth" Spice


For the third consecutive year the city of Joliet, IL has hosted an annual Star Wars day at the public library. While we did not attend the prior events, the buzz around the Midwest Garrison was they wanted the event bigger and better than previous years. We would quickly learn they would pull out all the stops to achieve just that. Upon my arrival Friday afternoon for setup, it was clear to me that the Empire was taking over the entire city. The entire area was getting in on the theme of the day, including a local restaurant that renamed itself "the Cantina" for the day. We were asked to bring the Battle Station out to add to the massive museum display the 501st & Rebel Legion was creating with help from the local Jedi Assembly & R2 Builder groups. I was a bit reluctant to set up a table but why not create something for educational purpose? There's no doubt collecting is a huge part of this hobby, and it was a lot of fun answering some of the questions from the kids. It was too bad our stockpile of giveaway is simply depleted from other events this year. In any case, we were simply honored to be included in the festivities.

The streets were lined with several vendors and Legoland was also set up doing a massive giveaway of their Star Wars products. The area surrounding the library had many activities set up for the kids including a jail n bail, Wampa attack, Star Wars trivia and the Imperial Cadet Training. After seeing all the great fun the kids were going to have and wishing I was young again, we headed into the building to see activity that was indoors. There were many props on display that included some of the pieces you might need to actually build them. There were six costumes on mannequins as well as the creative custom work of Kathy Van Beuningen, as she had many of her dolls on display. The Rebel Legion was equally impressive, as many of their costumes included fabric samples and great how-to guides for anyone who was interested in getting into the world of costuming. I've been to more than a few library events in the past, and by far this was the largest I can remember seeing. There were also three artists set up in the area with us as we were joined by Dave Dorman, Steven Palencia and Janine Jender, who was doing her very first show. Between the thrice of artists, there was a great selection of Star Wars eye candy available for purchase.

The event ran just five hours but from what I was told there were over 3500 attendees, 650 contestants in the trivia challenge and many happy faces that completed Imperial Cadet Training. The weather couldn't have been any better as I managed to sneak in a few hours in my Sandtrooper costume as well. It was a lot of fun, and there were so many of my fellow Midwest Garrison members in the group shot! After doing some local cable TV spots for a couple of the local restaurants, I suited down and headed back to the Cantina that was set up near the Battle Station to enjoy some of the free refreshments! After the event concluded, the 501st and Rebel Legion held a bit of a ceremony to honor special guest Dave Dorman who celebrated 30 years as a Star Wars artist. I also got a glimpse of his Celebration VI print, and there's not a doubt in my mind it will be "most impressive" judging from the sketch I saw on his table. Overall I'd have to say the event itself was a huge success and we can very much look forward to the event next year, we were told it might be expanded into a weekend event based on the great turnout from this year. As there is no doubt this was a great way for Star Wars fans of any age to have a great time and enjoy the hobby. We'll be looking forward to the next one, United We Find Troopers!

Check out the photo galleries from setup and all the action on Saturday !

Highlights from the Floor