PRINGTIME FROLICS - THE FIRST R. JOHN WRIGHT CONVENTION, was held from May 27-30, 2009 at the historic Desmond Hotel in Albany, New York. Limited to 250 attendees, festivities got off to a good start on Thursday with a chartered bus ride to nearby Bennington, Vermont. There, guests were given a personal tour of the R. John Wright Workshop and Design Studio and had the opportunity to purchase vintage RJW items in the R. John Wright Company Showroom. Mid-day, the assembled registrants partook of a catered luncheon titled "Apple Blossoms in Vermont" under a huge tent overlooking the lovely Vermont countryside. The full day's schedule also included visits to the Bennington Museum with a special display of antique dolls and Grandma Moses paintings, and a tour of historic Old Bennington where the Wright's reside in one of the area's most important Federal-style homes.

Back at the hotel, guests were offered a complimentary movie screening with theatre seating and free snacks. Friday and Saturday were bursting with activities at the hotel ranging from special programs and seminars to workshops and ticketed meal events centered around the new Flower Fairies Collection and a delightful new RJW mouse series premiering with Daffy-Down-Dilly. All the meal events featured special favors, centerpieces, and door prizes. There was a competitive exhibit with awards and an exciting salesroom featuring top collectible and antique doll dealers which was open to the public on Saturday. The Convention's final banquet featured a delightful program by UFDC member Laurie McGill on famed illustrator Kate Greenaway and the eagerly-awaited convention souvenir doll, a lovely lass named "Rebecca", beautifully evoked the Greenaway imagery.

Plans are already underway for next year's convention which is expected to take place again in Albany in the spring. Attendees of this year's event will be given the first opportunity to enroll followed by new registrants as limited space allows. Watch the Events Section of the R. John Wright Web site for further details as they become available.

1-The R. John Wright sign announces to collectors that they have arrived!; 2-John and Susan explain the design process in the main design room; 3-The first Christopher Robin on display in the lobby; 4-Antique Palmer Cox Brownie nine-pin toys; 5-Son Jack and daughter Lillian join John and Susan in the company showroom; 6-John shows guests items in his office cabinets; 7-In the conference room, guests examine antique dolls from the Wrights' personal collection.

8-The Flower Fairies dinner featured RJW Sweet Pea centerpieces; 9-The table is set for the Daffy Down Dilly mouse breakfast; 10-Guests at the Daffy Down Dilly event; 11-Delightful Maypole centerpieces at the Oranges & Lemons open luncheon 12-Susan holds one of the RJW Daffodil centerpieces; 13-The ticketed mouse breakfast; 14-Honored guests at the Oranges & Lemons luncheon- left to right: Convention Co-Chair Michele Thorp; Treasurer Amy Cannistraci; Susan Wright; R. John Wright; Sally Griffin Chairman of Judges.

15 thru 18-Part of the exciting Competitive Exhibit where winning entries in various catagories were presented R. John Wright award ribbons; 19 thru 22-The wonderful Special Exhibit of Kate Greenaway emphemera was organized by Laurie McGill and Cathy McCool-Jackson.

23-John and Susan personally greet guests as they enter the ballroom for the final banquet; 24-The tables were elegantly set with silver tower vases topped with real flowers (Note: the flowers were donated to area nursing homes and delivered the following day.); 25-Guests meet friends and prepare to be seated; 26-Lillian Wright and RJW associate Amanda Frisco were workshop instructors. To the right is Cindy Bardin, Production Manager of R. John Wright Dolls; 27 thru 29-Guests enjoy the banquet in the Desmond's beautiful ballroom; 30-R. John Wright retailer Lily Bergh poses with RJW Office Manager, Amy Cannistraci.

Photos: Courtesy of Rodney Waller

To view reports on other RJW Conventions -