By Sean P. Dailey/spd of TORC
Gathering of the Fellowship 2003 publicity spokesman
The voting has begun.
Ballots for selecting a host city began going out Thursday, July 18 to the hundreds of people who signed up to attend the Gathering of the Fellowship, the massive fan event being planned for the December 2003 release of “The Return of the King,” the third part of New Line Cinema‘s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.”
“About 400 ballots are going to go out,” Gathering president Edward Rodrigues said Friday, July 19. “About 430 are signed up to go, but we’re missing some e-mails, so almost 400 are going out. I’m going to send them out 10 at a time.”
Rodrigues, also known as Speaker to Animals on Tolkienonline.com (TORC), a Tolkien fan site to which the majority of possible attendees at the Gathering belong, said voting will run through Sunday, July 28 and will close at midnight pacific standard time (TORC time).
“Hopefully, most people will vote. I hope to get as many votes as possible,” Rodrigues said.
Bids for seven cities – Atlanta, Ga., Charleston, S.C., Denver, Colo., Los Angeles, Calif., New York City, San Francisco, Calif. and Toronto, Canada – were submitted to the Gathering’s planning committee.
Voters are to pick three choices, ranked in order of preference. First preference gets five points, the second preference gets 3 points and the third preference gets 1 point. The city with the most points will be the host city.
If no city wins a clear 50 percent majority, then the two cities with the most points will compete in a run-off.
Gathering planners had hoped to have a city selected by now, but delays in receiving bid packages (which can be reviewed at the event’s Website, tolkiengathering.com) kept pushing the voting back. Some city organizers, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, got late starts on their bid packages, Rodrigues said, while others had trouble tracking down information.
“I want to stress that people should not just go for the cities closest to them, but to study the bid packages and look at the rates and such,” Rodrigues said. “Some cities are expensive but have strong bids with excellent theaters and hotels.”
The next step once a city is selected is to firm up the dates for the Gathering, which will be a three-day extravaganza that, besides including a showing of all three “Lord of the Rings” movies, will feature a costume contest, a poetry/literature contest, a fan art contest and a trivia contest.
The first installment, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” was released in December 2001 and “The Two Towers” hits theaters this coming December.
From its beginnings as a TORC-only event, the Gathering has grown to encompass members of other Tolkien fan sites as well, including Ringbearer.org, The Lord of the Rings Official Fan Club (lotrfanclub.com), imladris.net, the Minas Tirith Forums (minastirith.com) “and assorted Tolkien fans with no affiliation,” Rodrigues said.
Anyone who signed up but does not receive a ballot may e-mail Rodrigues at firstname.lastname@example.org, the address for submitting ballots Also, anyone who hasn’t signed up yet but wants to vote should sign up at tolkiengathering.com before July 28.
“We’ll put them on the list and we’ll send them a ballot, but it has to be done obviously before the 28th,” Rodrigues said. “People have been looking at the Website and saying, `I want to be included.’ If anybody on list did not get a ballot, it’s because we don’t have their e-mail, and so send us a request with an e-mail address.”
Sean Dailey can be reached at email@example.com