ROSLYN—Linda Tye of Ashland, Ore., sold her living room furniture to go to Moosefest in Roslyn over the weekend.
Her friends chipped in for a $165 ticket so she could attend the three-day fan festival for the television show “Northern Exposure.” Tye came up with the money for travel expenses and lodging. Now, her living room is furnished with a plastic lawn chair, Tye said with a laugh.
The show, which ran from 1990 to 1995, was set in the fictional town of Cicely, Alaska. For most of its run, outdoor scenes were shot in Roslyn, and many local buildings and places received time in the spotlight. Quirky characters were part of the program’s draw – at the end of most programs, DJ Chris Stevens, played by John Corbett, would recap the theme of the episode on his KBHR radio show.
“It would sum up what you were feeling,” Tye said.
Selling one’s furniture to attend a small festival may seem extreme, but “Northern Exposure” means a lot to many people.
“There are messages in the show,” Tye said. She started watching it during its initial broadcast.
Viewing the show was a healing experience for Tye. In 1998, her husband, Rick, was crushed by a tractor while at work. She identified with the character of Maggie O’Connell, played by Janine Turner. Maggie is said to have a curse in the show – all the men she dates end up dying in freak accidents. Tye said at that point she felt like she was Maggie.
It helped her get through the time after her husband’s death, she said.
“The audience takes what they need from the messages,” said festival attendee Renee Campbell of Philadelphia.
Moosefest began in 1997 by a group of avid “Northern Exposure” fans. It was held annually until 2005. Less formal gatherings were held in 2006 and 2007 while organizers planned the 2008 fest. Moosefest is organized by a committee of 11 people from all over the country.
“It’s a casual gathering of fans whom the show has touched them in a special way,” said Kurt Lutterman, director of the Moosefest committee and longtime fan of the show.
Activities included several walking and bus tours of filming sites in and around Roslyn, show trivia, phone interviews with actors from the show, an auction to raise money for local nonprofits including the Roslyn Downtown Association and a dinner catered by the Roslyn Café.
Attending the dinner were several actors from the show including Darren Burrows, who played Ed Chigliak, William J. White, who played Dave the Cook, Grant Goodeve, who played Rick Pedersen, and Harry Pringle, who played Henry Morningstar in the “Our Tribe” episode.
Moosefest participants came from all over the U.S. including New York, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Minnesota. There were even attendees from the United Kingdom, Croatia and Australia.
The festival has been getting more popular each year, Lutterman said. This year 100 people preregistered for the event.
“I’ve been wanting to do this since I was little,” Campbell said. She was 11 when the show first aired. She often watched it with her mother. This was her first Moosefest.
During the walking and bus tours on Saturday, Campbell eagerly snapped photos of The Brick, Ruth-Anne Miller’s store, the beach where Chris Stevens’ trailer was located and a multitude of other filming sites.
She chuckled at the horses being ridden down the streets and the random black dog dodging traffic. They are things she rarely gets to see in Philadelphia.
Her eyes teared up after participating in a Moosefest tradition, dancing on Ruth-Anne’s grave. So did Tye’s.
Being able to attend the festival and tour filming locations was a dream come true for Campbell.
“It’s wonderful,” Campbell said. “It’s like being at a ‘Star Trek’ convention while on the Enterprise. You can feel the presence of the show and the characters.”
Sense of community
Candy Casey of Bangor, Maine, said being able to tour the filming locations was ecstasy for a devoted fan.
It was Casey’s third Moosefest. Her first year was 2005 and she also came to the event in 2008. She plans on coming to many more in the future.
“When I found out that this is where they filmed it, I couldn’t wait to come down here,” Casey said. “I had to put my hands on The Brick. I was ready for it four months ahead of time.”
She, along with Campbell, Tye and Lutterman fell in love with the uplifting feeling and sense of community present in the show.
“When you’re down, when you’re bummed and you watch the show, you feel like everything is going to be all right,” Casey said.