Fans of the Hallmark period TV drama series When Calls the Heart are a passionate bunch, so the competition to attend this year’s annual fan convention, Hearties Family Reunion (HFR4), was pretty fierce. After a fairly traumatic end to Season 5 (Hearties will know exactly what we’re talking about here), HFR4 offered a chance to connect directly with the cast and crew (and act as a salve for our bruised hearts) and get some clues as to what may be in store for season six (including meeting two new characters).
This year, instead of the usual mad dash to register for the event once it opened online (like trying to buy a concert ticket for a show you are desperate to see only to find it sold out within two minutes), organisers decided to do it a little differently. A random draw. It gave people plenty of time to register their interest in attending, and then quietly cross their fingers and toes, hoping their name came up. For international Hearties like us, this gave us a real fighting chance to get selected (particularly given the timezone difference and the fact that our internet speeds are probably not on par with those in North America). About 1100 people put their names forward this year, and only 300 were selected to attend.
We were allowed up to two people per entry – Ange partnered with Kylie, while Jenn and Kristyn teamed up. We’d met earlier in the year through fan sites on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and through our conversations about the show (and our lives in general), we’ve become good mates. Kylie and Ange got drawn in the main round, and then Jenn and Kristyn got their shot when their names were drawn out a week or two later when someone relinquished their spot because they couldn’t attend. We honestly can’t describe how amazing this felt to be picked! There were tears and screams (including at work and in the middle of a chain store).
At this stage, we believe we are the only four people from Australia to have been selected as part of this draw (although if there are other Aussies out there also attending we aren’t aware of we’d love to connect with you!). Trust us, we know just how lucky we are. And that’s why we decided to set up this blog — we want to share as much of this experience with you as we can. We want to take you on the journey with us so that you almost feel like you are there. We’ve checked with the event organisers to ensure what we do here is above board and won’t break any confidences. Based on what they have told us, we should be able to share quite a bit of the experience with you.
For three of us, it will be our first time to Canada, so we are making the most of the opportunity and taking in the sights, sounds, tastes and culture of this beautiful nation while we are there. We’ll have four and a half days before HFR4 starts to check out Vancouver and surrounds, then after HFR4 wraps up we are renting a 4WD and heading into the mountains for just under a week to explore Whistler, Jasper, and Banff and all the amazing sights of the Rocky Mountains. It’s definitely a rushed trip but we are hoping it will still give us wonderful memories. And given the fall season has just started, and it’s been snowing in the Rockies over the past week, our pictures and videos should look amazing with beautiful autumn colours and white snow-capped peaks!
Best of all, When Calls The Heart has given us the opportunity to meet each other. We have all come from different walks of life, but it’s been awesome to share the show we love, and learn more about each other. Interestingly, pretty much all our contact to date has been through social media – Ange, Kylie and Kristyn have only met face-to-face once, and Kristyn and Jenn have only met in person twice. Ange and Kylie will only meet Jenn the night before we all board the plane. But that’s okay. We’ve spent hours each day for the past nine months messaging each other through social media, so we’ve come to know, love and respect each other as good friends. These friendships have been unexpected, but are much valued.
With three weeks to go today until we board the plane, join us for our countdown to Canada. We’re excited!!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton