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WSI News - WSI Spotlight

SoxFest Report
by Hal Vickery

Well, it wasn’t as bad as a lot of people thought it might be!

Last week we promised you a report on SoxFest and it’s new venue, the Palmer House Hilton. There were definitely some problems, but all in all it wasn’t that bad, although a lot of that depends on who you are and what your purpose was for being there.

We talked to a few vendors who were disappointed in the location of the exhibitors’ hall. It was on the fourth floor of the hotel, down a small flight of steps from one of the signing stages. There was one entrance. If you happened to come on one of the elevators that only went as far as the eleventh floor, you exited right there. Otherwise, you might not even see it, unless you were looking for food.

The one thing that was put in the same area as the vendors was the food court. If you wanted to eat, you had to go to the exhibitors’ hall. I imagine that served to help business, but it certainly wasn’t as helpful as the arrangement at the Hyatt where there were four autograph stages flanking the exhibitors’ booths. That kept a steady stream of customers coming and going for most of the three days, something lacking at the Palmer House.

We didn’t just limit our observations to vendors, however. We heard from a few of the paying customers. There only seemed to be one complaint, and that was the location of at least some of the autograph stages.

Most people had no problems getting to most of the signing venues. There were escalators leading to most of the floor…except for the sixth floor. And that was the problem. There were people who told us that they didn’t figure that out until Sunday.

Some who had figured it out mentioned that even though they knew about the sixth floor, it was far too difficult to get to. There were no escalators, and the limited number of elevators made for long waits for those trying to go up there from lower floors. Those elevators also had to serve all of the guests staying at the hotel, so it wasn’t the best situation in the world.

However, all of that being said, the Palmer House wasn’t nearly as bad as some of us thought it might be. Most of the fans we’ve heard from liked it as a venue once they figured out the layout. For anyone who doesn’t like the set-up there, you’re going to have to get used to it. We’ve been told that the Sox have a five-year deal with Hilton for the Palmer House to host SoxFest.


SoxFest is supposed to be a happy occasion, but for those of us in the Windy City Sox Fans booth, there was a lot of anxiety due to something that happened Friday morning.

One of our board members (who shall remain nameless for reasons of privacy) didn’t seem to be her usual self that day. Sometime around 10:30, she got up from the chair she was resting in and said to another board member, “Something’s wrong. I know who you are, but I can’t remember your names.”

My first thought was “Stroke,” and after a little more conversation with her, we decided to get help. I tried to find someone from security. The first person I saw was a Sox security person. I explained to him what was happening. His response was, “I can’t help you. I just work for the Sox.”

At that point, I decided the best thing to do was call 911 and then find somebody else who could get some help. I don’t remember if I found her or if she found me, but I did find someone from the Sox with a radio. She got in touch with hotel security and within a minute or so there were people at our booth from both security and management. They tried to get as much information as possible, and they held an elevator for the paramedics.

In just a few minutes the paramedics were there. They rushed our board member to the hospital where at last report she was doing well.

A tip of the hat goes to a lot of people from the Sox front office. Some were there before the paramedics came trying to help. Several others stopped by the booth, some several times during the weekend, asking if we’d heard anything. Some of those included Christine O’Reilly, Brooks Boyer, and Roland Hemond. In fact, I happened to see Christine O’Reilly just before leaving the hotel, and she told me to let her know any news we might here.

The response of these Sox front office people just confirms for me that the Sox organization really does care about its fans.


I should probably mention that the one seminar I managed to attend was the one Friday evening with Brooks Boyer. After it was over, I jokingly asked him what the situation was with Nancy Faust this year.

He did tell me that Nancy will be back in the same situation as in 2006, playing day games and any postseason games the Sox will be in. This is certainly good news for Nancy’s fans. Now if only I can get to some day games to listen to her play!


Editor's Note: Hal Vickery has been a White Sox fan since 1955 when he was five years old. For much of that time he also had a secondary rooting interest in the Cubs, which he has shown the good sense to abandon. When not cheering for or writing about the Sox, Hal teachers chemistry and physics at North Boone High School, in Poplar Grove, IL. Hal commutes there daily from Joliet, where he lives with his wife Lee, and their dog, Buster T. Beagle. Hal's opinions are not necessarily those of North Boone High School, his wife, or Buster T. Beagle. You can write Hal at

More features from Hal Vickery here!

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