Pioneer Woman comes to St. Louis

Last night, Jeff and I (yes, he ended up going with me) had the opportunity to attend a Q&A session and book signing by none other than the Pioneer Woman herself, who was in town promoting her new cookbook (links, just in case you live under a rock and hadn’t heard about this before).

Now, while I like the Pioneer Woman well enough (her sesame noodles and cinnamon rolls are to-die-for, though maybe not together :-P, and her photography skills are amazing), you’d never describe me as a ‘rabid fangirl’  (I guess I got that out of my system in 1997 as a 12-year-old Hanson fan.).  I think PW’s jokes wear old after a while – “lil’ ol’ me in my holey yoga pants”, “I have cow poop on my porch!”, “my boys stole [insert kitchen tool here]” – I roll my eyes by this point, whenever I read those phrases on her blog.

My main peeve, though, is that (as an Amazon reviewer keenly pointed out), nowhere in her new book does PW thank her readers, the same readers who generate her estimated $3,000,000/annual blog revenue.  The readers who are the reason she even has a book deal at all.  That really irritates me.

THAT SAID, we did attend the signing last night, we did have a pretty OK time, and PW and family were very nice to meet in person.

The event was held at Christ Church Cathedral, downtown just a couple blocks from my office:

It was originally going to be held at the Left Bank Books downtown location, but  I guess they caught wind of the anticipated crowd size, and (wisely) moved to a larger venue.

After work I met up with Jeff at Starbucks.  Then, appropriately reinforced with caffeine, we headed over.

The event was sponsored by Left Bank Books, a fantastic local bookstore:

(I’m so glad the event wasn’t just at your run-of-the-mill Barnes and Noble or whatever!  Buy local :-))

We got there at about 5:45, and the place was still relatively empty-ish:

After everything I’d heard about the other events, though, I suspected it would fill up soon.

We got seats in the 5th row, something that we were ultimately glad about because at book signing time, they released us two rows at a time – we were in the 3rd group to go!

Jeff sportingly waits over an hour in an uncomfortable chair, for a presentation for a blogger who he’s not that familiar with and not that interested in:

He’s a real trooper, I tell you what.

Though after a while, the wait got to be too much and he resorted to (::gasp::) reading the cookbook!

(The end result was, of course, that he requested a couple of items for me to cook.  Any guesses what they were? :-D)

(We’ll have to see if that sheet cake is as good as Mom’s recipe.  And I guess I’ll just have to rely on Jeff’s opinion of the sandwich, as I’m not a meat eater ;-))

At about 6:15, Ladd (aka Marlboro Man) and the boys showed up, lugging massive trash bags full of free goodies for the audience.

(that younger boy would NOT hold still! I couldn’t get a single photo of him!)

I patiently waited, and knitted (shocking, I know!):

In all the time waiting for the event to begin + while Ree talked + waiting in line, I was able to finish the foot of one sock and do the first 2 1/2 repeats of the second sock.  I can’t imagine how bored I’d have been without something to keep my hands busy…

By about 6:45 the place was PACKED.  I think I heard somewhere they had 500 seats out?  They brought about maybe 100 more, and then there were still people standing against the walls.

At this point, I realized the true extent of PW’s popularity.  To put it into my own terms…

If I were to assemble everyone who has visited my site in a MONTH, the crowd would be about twice this size (~1400 maybe?).

500 people in the crowd would be my mom.

200 would be my dad.

100 would be my mother-in-law.

200 would be knitters and blogfriends and other “real” people.

50 would be there on accident.

10 would be Jeff, and only because I said “I blogged about you!  Come see!”

340 would be perverts who showed up because that one time  I posted a photo of Othello and said “Here’s a pussy shot.”

And yet, the Pioneer Woman’s blog is so powerful that she can draw a crowd this size in ONE EVENING, in ONE CITY, on a miserable drizzly rainy Tuesday night.  Whoa.

Finally, just after 7:00, PW showed up.  She just talked for a minute or two:

And then they jumped right into the Q&A session.  I was a bit disappointed that she didn’t read from her book, or share any new anecdotes, or do something, y’know?

The questions really ran the gamut – from “Please do your Ethel Mermen impression!” to “I like your blog.” (hey,  that’s not a question) to “Do you feed Charlie bones?” (WTF?)

But Ree (who, despite the above photo’s appearance, does NOT suffer from gross facial disfiguration) answered all the questions with grace and humor.  Even if it was all the same regurtitated, canned responses that have been on her blog a million times already.

After maybe 30 or so questions, the signing began.   And that’s where I was the most impressed.  After already talking to literally thousands of people over the course of her tour, PW still managed to kindly chat with every single person who’d waited in line.  She held babies and posed for pictures and accepted gifts and did it all with a smile on her face.  I could NOT do that, and I really respect her stamina.

Although, at one point, Jeff whispered to me…

“I wonder if that lady next to her is saying…’remember, thou art mortal.  Remember, thou art mortal.  Remember, thou art mortal.'”

And I couldn’t stifle my giggle.

Even her boys got in on the signing (though they didn’t get to me):

They were so cute!  And busy!

Marlboro Man was handing out t-shirts, posing for photos and signing autographs:

Finally, it was almost our turn in line:

When I finally got to meet Ree, I oh-so-wittily said (all in one breath) “HiI’maknitterandknittersdothisthingwherewetryandgetcelebritiestotakephotos….

…holdingwhatwe’reknittingwouldyoupleaseholdmysock?”

She didn’t bat an eye at this ridiculous request.  Just said “But I’m not a celebrity!”   And next thing I knew…

(of course that’s the dumbest picture of me EVER  Ugh.)

AWESOME.  My first celebrity sock photo!  (But hopefully not the last.  I’ve got my hopes set on Neil Degrasse Tyson.  Someday…)

I got out of Ree’s way and managed not to fall of the stage.  Marlboro Man gave me a t-shirt, and I got a photo with him as well:

And, in the interest of full disclosure, here’s my opinion of him:

1)He must really love Ree, to go through all this for her.

2)He didn’t seem to be wearing any cologne, nor did he smell like cow poop.

3)He’s cute, I guess, but not my type.

I did NOT ask him to hold the sock; even I have limits.  Plus, I was tired and ready to go home.

All in all, I had a pretty good time.

I’m not the Pioneer Woman’s biggest fan ever, but I really was impressed with her ability to handle a crowd and be so gracious and funny at the same time.

And hey, now I’ve got a signed cookbook 🙂

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7 responses to “Pioneer Woman comes to St. Louis

  1. Awesome recap! I wish I could have gone. Maybe when I live in a bigger town…

  2. Epic! Yeah, I don’t really go in for cooking, but that sock looked pretty awesome! Yay for having something to do! I will have to remember that thing about getting celebrities to hold out current knitting project, it is a really good idea! Just out of curiousity, what wool are you useing for your socks, I want some!? Thanks, Gladerider

  3. GAAAAAH this just reminded me that I hung out with my favorite author less than three weeks ago, and I had a sock-in-progress in my bag — AND I DIDN’T ASK HER TO HOLD THE SOCK WHILE I TOOK A PICTURE.

    GAAAAAH!

    Screaming aside, I’m glad someone else feels the same way about Pioneer Woman! Your pictures look great 🙂

  4. Thanks for the comments. Great pictures! I absolutely adore that shawl you’re wearing. I can only knit straight rows… 😦

    Last night was SUCH a blast. I still can’t believe I got to meet her.

  5. Hi Kate! Yes, you were sitting near my son. That is him behind your husband in the picture where your husband is holding the coffee cup. Do you mind if I steal, borrow, that picture? It is so cool to be able to “see” him doing this for me. Pleeeease!

    Bye the way, I too am not gaga over Pioneer Woman but I do admire her writing and cooking styles.

  6. Interesting way to spend the evening and in such a beautiful church! Now you’ve made me want to get her cook book even though it would be much better if it were autographed!
    What a surprise to see my nephew sitting in the row behind your husband!

  7. Kate, I just read a blog and the woman had a picture of you and Jeff. Now, it is off the back of you two but hey, it is a pic! LOL It is at http://worldwiderolves.blogspot.com/2009/11/pioneer-woman-in-st-louis.html

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