The 4th Annual Smallville SuperFest took place in Plano, Illinois, on August 14, 15, and 16, 2015. It featured music, games, and attractions for Superman (and comic book) fans of all ages.
Mayor Bob Hausler, “Mayor of Smallville, U.S.A, otherwise known as Plano, Illinois,” explained last year’s estimated attendance. ”We don’t have official numbers, because our festival is free. Basically, the only things that we charge for are certain rides and also, of course, the vendors, charge. The entertainment is all free, and that we can only estimate…but I would say, last year, it was well over 10,000 people.” “I’m on the Festival Committee, I’m also on the Smallville SuperFest Board. We have an official corporation, a [not-for-profit] corporation, and I’m on that board, too,” said Mayor Hausler, “It was my idea to have a festival to commemorate the filming of ‘Superman’ in the city. I called a meeting of all the people that were interested in having the festival, and that’s kind of how it started. After we had the filming here in 2011, there was so much excitement, and interest in the city that, after…Warner Brothers had left, I thought, ‘We need to do something to continue this, and we have so many things in our Museum, there’s still a lot of the signage around town, and that, and then the flag mural that Warner Brothers left…it just seemed like a natural thing to have a festival around.”
“Anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 [people attended last year]. That’s what we expected this year with the 10 percent increase,” said Nicole Diaz, co-chair for Smallville SuperFest, along with Jim Martens, and who got involved “when they were filming the Main Street [demolition]…for the ‘Man of Steel’ [movie], [and] I was a local merchant.” “I wanted to bring the community together, and we didn’t have a festival,” said Diaz, “We did a lot of planning, and had Committees put things together.”
“Last year was right at 10,000 people,” said Chris Johnson, who “[as a Smallville SuperFest Committee member, is] here in the Depot at the Smallville Museum this year,” and who became involved in Smallville SuperFest “…when we had our original meeting 4 years ago…and wanted to get involved with the festival ‘because of the movie itself.’” “I thought it was very accurate and…very good to see that many people coming to town for Superman,” said Johnson.
“[Attendance was] what I expect, because we started off kind of small, and, as we keep growing, we try to improve things, and make [the festival] bigger and better every year,” said Mayor Hausler. “It was more than I expected, but it sure is nice to see that many people show up, and hopefully [there will] be more this year,” said Johnson, “A lot of [the increased attendance] has to do with social media, because [there are the] Superfriends of Metropolis and [there are] so many different Superman pages, and people [are] talking about it every year, and [it] just keeps building up.” “[Advertisements] and word of mouth [are contributing to the growing success of Smallville SuperFest],” said Diaz.
Attendance is calculated “Just by the look and appearance, and kind of, we [have had] actual people counting, so, even though we get a rough number of the count, it is fairly accurate,” said Mayor Hausler. It is also calculated “from food vendors and merchandise that’s been sold,” said Diaz, “I already talked to one vendor, and he’s already at [the] peak where he was last year.” “We wait and see when the people show up, and then we take a guess by the size of the crowd. During the day, we take a sample [of the crowd],” said Johnson.
Sponsorship is part of what makes Smallville SuperFest possible each year. “We get sponsorship [for the attractions that require tickets], so they may not pay for themselves, but, through the sponsorship, they do, said Mayor Hausler, “a few do contact us, about sponsorship, but mostly it’s through marketing of the festival, and soliciting sponsorship.” “This year, we had a few additional sponsors, and there [were] a total of, probably, 22 local merchants,” said Diaz, “We actually had a private donor, who I was seeking [for] the company that he works for, and he ended up donating, instead…that was really nice.” “The [money is] spent on bands, our [advertisements], our retail information (booth retail), mostly advertisements…we do a…banner along Main Street, too, and we do it also on Route 34, Ogden Avenue here in Plano,” said Diaz, “[One of] our biggest sponsors is [Valley West Hospital]. We also have Pat Burger, who is the District Manager of Menards Distribution, here in Plano. We have Dempsey Dodge, we have Plano Liquor and Wine, we have Rush-Copley Medical Center, McDonald’s of Plano, Casey’s General Store, we have Groot, who is our garbage waste company…we’ve added quite a few new sponsors.” “[Anyone who would be interested in becoming a sponsor] can either contact me, or go to the website, and we do have…contact information on that website, where people can email…for more information. One of the questions [that is listed on the website] is if you want to be a sponsor, or if you want to be a vendor, or if you want to be a volunteer…on our website, those options are [available],” said Mayor Hausler.
There were a few attractions that required tickets, including the Zipline and the Euro-Bungee. “We sell [tickets] for $8 apiece or 2 for $15,” said Diaz. “I think the Euro-Bungee probably [brought in the most revenue], last year,” said Mayor Hausler. “The Zipline and Euro-Bungee [brought in the most revenue],” said Diaz.
Smallville SuperFest is publicized in a variety of ways. “We do radio ads, newspaper ads, the City website, the Facebook pages, through social media,” said Mayor Hausler, “There’s, I believe, three stations that we advertise on…WBIG, The River, and WSPY.” “We advertise in three different local radio stations, we [advertise in newspapers], we do interviews, and the social media does a lot for us,” said Diaz, “WSPY, our local radio [station], WBIG [Aurora’s radio station], and The River, in Aurora….[there have] been a lot. The Record newspaper, which is Shaw Media now…they put us on their social media…other websites have a link to [our festival]…we did return to WSPY and also WBIG, but we added The River this year.” “In general, through the newspapers…and through other radio organizations,” said Johnson, “Usually [we use] the Plano Record, WBIG, and WSPY…specifically.”
Online advertising is a frequently-used medium through which to publicize Smallville SuperFest.”We try to update the Facebook page too, if we’re adding our different entertainment options…we put the times…and a little bit of the history about the band that’s playing. I know the bands also publicize on their own when they’re attending our event,” said Mayor Hausler, “The bands all [publicize] through [their media]. Most of the sponsors have publicity out about the event. That’s the way that most of the publicity is done, through the sponsorship.” “There’s a Facebook page…Jim Martens usually gets on there and does most of that,” said Johnson. “[We post photos from] past [years], we also give hints of what’s coming for the new year. We have the 7-foot statue of Henry Cavill, dressed [as] Superman, and that’s been a great addition to our festival this year,” said Diaz.
Diaz explained what she believed to be the most effective advertising avenue, “I believe social media. [Smallville SuperFest is] on Twitter, too.” “[The social media] is usually just done by the [Smallville SuperFest] Committee members themselves…whoever wants to get on there and start chatting it up,” said Johnson. “I would say that, probably, the Facebook page…gets the most views…it’s free, so it’s really the best value, too,” said Mayor Hausler, “I think between radio and probably social media, we do advertise, and we have a local county-type newspaper that services the county and the city, and [there are] articles in that, publicized in that paper. That’s more local…we would like [the festival] to [attract] people, from not only the state, but the country, and, eventually, the world.”
Mayor Hausler explained changes in the artwork for Smallville SuperFest this year, “We do modify those, periodically…there may be…subtle little things that people don’t recognize right away, but if you have the images side by side, [it] definitely would be easy to see what the changes are. One of the clouds might be different in the picture. That’s kind of neat….[people] that are on our Committee…we do have a person doing the artwork…he’s a great person to do that kind of thing. He does most of that artwork, and then it’s brought to the Committee, and the Committee decides on what they like.” “We always change up the cityscape, just a little bit, so we can identify [the year of the festival], for souvenirs…we know exactly what year it would have been,” said Diaz.
Brad Gardner, who does the artwork for Smallville SuperFest, explained his role at this year’s festival, “It’s expanding, I think, a little bit. I mostly do the artwork and the graphics, and [I] try to do some of the advertising, if I can.” “I got involved because [I’ve lived] in this town my whole life, and I thought it was pretty cool when they were doing the movie. I was taking some pictures, just walking around downtown, and all the new sets [that were being put up] were pretty fascinating. The Mayor of Plano contacted a bunch of us, and it was really Mayor Bob [Hausler’s] idea, although we all just jumped in, he said, ‘let’s do [a festival], and we all said, ‘Yes, you bet’, so that’s kind of how we got started,” said Gardner.
“They kind of came from expanding last year’s. They sort of grow every year. I think, next year, they’ll probably stay the same. We have the downtown area depicted; my part of it [was] the downtown area, and kind of a cartoon version of it, with a water tower at one end of town. The second year, I added the American flag that’s on the side of the building. The year after that, I made [the American flag] a little bit bigger. This year, I made it 4 times bigger, so the American flag is more prominent, and I made the water tower a lot bigger, and taller, and I put ‘Smallville’ on [the water tower],” said Gardner, “[I’ll] probably do about the same [thing]. I’ll do what’s needed, and what we want. I’m not really planning on expanding it too much any more…I pretty much have it where I want it.”
Gardner explained the Super Cut-Outs, “Those were mine; I made those. I’ve got a Supergirl, a Superboy, and a Superman. My wife and I went through Metropolis, Illinois quite a few years ago, and they had some Cut-Outs…Metropolis being the other Superman home. We had the sets all built [in] downtown [Plano], and my wife was going through some old pictures, and she found the pictures she had taken of me posing with the Superman Cut-Out. She [said], ‘There, what do you think about that?’ and I said, ‘You know what, I can make those with Superman’s new uniform, [because] it’s changed over the years. So, I decided to make three different ones for different age groups…[I] had a lot of fun with [them].”
Diaz explained the city’s responsibilities in planning the festival, “They are great support. The city lets us use their City Streets and Sanitation, and they waive permits for us…they’re really good support for us.” “Our responsibility, as the city, is allowing the streets and the parking lots to be used, and to be shut down, provide water and electricity for the vendors, and for the folks at the festival. As far as those utilities, we provide the garbage containers and those types of items, and we do provide manpower to move things around, like the barricade, and then we also have all the security during the event hours,” said Mayor Hausler. “[The city allows] us to shut down the whole entire Main Street, and they provide water and electric, as well as police protection, of course,” said Johnson.
An often unpredictable challenge is the weather, “[In case of rain], we watch the sky. With the heat that we had, the heat index, and so forth, and with the cool front, you never know what [the weather is going] to produce. As a chairman, I went around and made sure everyone knew where the emergency areas were to go to, and also, we were just watching,” said Diaz. “The main thing is for the safety of the public. We had an announcement before the inclement weather hit, that it was coming, and for people to be prepared to take shelter. The number one thing is for the safety of our attendees,” said Mayor Hausler.
Planning Smallville SuperFest included other easy, as well as challenging, aspects, “Actually, we’ve gotten more volunteers this year than we’ve had in the past, which makes it so much nicer, [because] in the past we’ve struggled to get volunteers, and, this year, people are actually saying, ‘[Yes], I want to do it.’ That’s been the biggest difference that I could see,” said Johnson. Diaz attributes the increased amount of volunteers to “[the] community growing together.” ”We have an amazing group of volunteers this year, and it’s been awesome. They’ve really done a really nice job in helping out with every committee.” “I believe it’s because…of social [networks]. People are talking about it on Facebook, and…different websites…we’ve even got one gentleman and his wife that [come] all the way from Iowa…every year…they’ve been here since the first [Smallville SuperFest]…we’ve got our Superman and Lois Lane that come here every year, and Charlee’s from St. Louis, and [Colleen is] out of…Washington, D.C…Charlee and Colleen,” said Johnson. “That’s really a good thing, to get more and new volunteers as the years go by, to keep the festival going…that’s the main thing,” said Mayor Hausler.
Johnson explained what is involved in coordinating the volunteers. ”You’ve got to find volunteers, you’ve got to get people to donate, not only money, but time, you’re finding all of our sponsors…you’re communicating with the city government in order to set up the days and dates. You’ve got to be down here early Friday morning to start to set up. We don’t start the festival [until] 5 o’clock in the afternoon, but you’re actually down here at 6 o’clock Friday morning, to get started on setting things up. You’ve got to clear the entire three blocks of the city, [because] we have cars parking all the time…they’ve got to be completely cleared out of here by 5 o’clock, [so we can get ] the festival going…You’ve got all these downtown businesses…their customers cannot park downtown and just walk right into the store,” said Johnson, “You’ve got all the people that are…from the Methodist Church, and the banks, that are doing all these games, trying to help them get set up, trying to help staff their booths, you’ve got the hospital…that does their large booths. That’s the most difficult…coordinating it all. You need one person that is in charge of volunteers. In previous years, my wife [and] myself were the people in charge of the volunteers. I [was in charge of] all the guys, and she [was in charge of] all the ladies that were working in the information booth. So, she would tell them what time to be here, and where to be, and I’d tell all the guys what time we were going to be doing things, like setting up the children’s games, and setting up tables and chairs. That’s the biggest [challenge]…is getting it all coordinated…You [have] some volunteers that [are here] an entire 3 days. You [have] some volunteers, like I am this year…wife and myself…we’re here from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock today.” It’s amazing that everything gets together. This year, Jim Martens and Nicole Diaz did a heck of a job.”
Diaz explained the process of delegating tasks to volunteers. “[The Smallville SuperFest Committee delegates] out what [volunteers] are good at. If they’re good at bookkeeping, we have a Bookkeeping Committee, we have a great Fundraising Committee, and so forth. We have about seven different committees, and then we have our main Committee. We have the Public Relations Committee, we have a Finance Committee, we have the Vendors Committee, Event Committee, Security Committee…there’s quite a few…we just put people where they would like to be, and where they would be utilized the best.” “The Committee structures for the whole committee are logistics, fundraising, finance committee, entertainment…so those committees meet separately, usually, as the months go by, we meet as a complete group, like once every 3 months, but those smaller committees meet more regularly, and then they bring their report to the whole committee,” said Mayor Hausler, “Everyone that’s on the Committee does volunteer, and we pretty much do whatever it takes to make the event successful.”
“The quickest and easiest way [to volunteer] is on Facebook. If anybody decides to do it while the festival is going on, just look for one of the volunteers. You can tell the volunteers [really] easily…they’ve all got purple shirts on…that’s got all the sponsors on the back. Any volunteer that they see…that’s who they go to, and they will say ‘OK, this is when our meetings are going to start…just come down to any meeting’…and, if they want to volunteer for this year’s festival, they’ll be put right to work,” said Johnson. “[Have] them go on our website, smallvillesuperfest.com, and [click on] the [link], and fill out the Interest [Form],” said Diaz.
Johnson explained his estimate for this year’s attendance, “Hopefully, we’ll have more than the 10,000 that showed up last year. We want to keep growing.”
Mayor Hausler explained what was involved in planning this year’s Smallville SuperFest, “The easiest was actually, because this is our 4th year, to kind of have a schedule. [The most difficult is] to recruit volunteers, and get volunteers and get that commitment of having the volunteers and the time that’s required to have a successful event.” The cost was “about $26,000 to $30,000 this year,” said Diaz.
There have been numerous attractions at Smallville SuperFest over the years. Mayor Hausler explained what he believed to be the most popular ones. “Presently…we do draw a lot of people that are interested in Superman. We have the Zipline, and that’s a popular ride for people to go on. The Museum here and just the whole atmosphere…it’s really great that we get the superheroes to come around, and a lot of the kids enjoy [getting] their pictures taken with [them]…I think the Zipline, I think the Museum is definitely the most popular attraction…we get a lot of people in through here.” “The Zipline and the Euro-Bungee,” said Diaz, ”the free Bounce Town, Children’s Area that we have done in the past draws a lot of the children, the Fishing With the Mayor draws a lot of children, and then in the afternoon we do more for the [teens] on a Saturday…all [ages] of the family can be involved in the festival.” “Normally, it is the Zipline…it goes down Main Street on Saturday afternoon. I think it’s 4 [p.m.] to 8 [p.m.] this year. That’s usually a big thing, because everybody [likes to] fly like Superman. And, of course, we’ve got the Bounce Houses, and the Children’s Games…the Old-Fashioned Children’s Games…and everybody seems to enjoy those, also,” said Johnson, “Because kids are always kids, and…if you have a kid’s game that you’re only paying 25 cents to play, it’s a lot better than playing $8 or $9, like you would at a…carnival.” “[The Zipline] was set up the same way it’s been done in the past. I was the first one down after the test people on the Zipline. That was [an] exciting thing,” said Mayor Hausler, “We look to make [the festival] bigger and better.” Krall, who portrayed Tony Stark: Iron Man, thinks the biggest attractions at this year’s Smallville SuperFest will be, “…the parade on Sunday…it’s all going to be really worth seeing.” “I think the parade will be the biggest [attraction] here,” said Funk, who portrayed Scarlet Witch. “I think…seeing the official Superboy,” said Kelly Guentner, who portrayed Black Widow. “The Zipline, for sure, the Kids’ Carnival…I know they always look forward to that…[the kids really liked] …the Bouncy Houses, the Carnival Games, and seeing all the cool cars. They do a really good job to keep the SuperFest fresh every year,” said Soffer, who portrayed Superboy. “I think, for the kids, it…was a lot of the heroes. The Zipline has definitely been a big hit every year. All of the other [kids’ attractions], too,” said Colleen Egan, whose role at this year’s Smallville SuperFest “is [threefold]. I started the weekend as Hawkgirl, and then it was Lana Lang, which was [the] very first costume that I did here…actually my very first costume ever, and then I’m ending the festival today as Angel from the X-Men.” Egan explained how she got involved with Smallville SuperFest, “I met Charlee Chartrand here, A.K.A. Charlee Soffer, in Metropolis…four [Metropolis trips] ago. He had asked me, when I first met him, if I wanted to come to Smallville SuperFest, and be a Lana Lang character with him, because he was volunteering as the Superboy, so they needed a Superboy and Lana, and I was like, ‘Well, what’s a SuperFest?’, and he told me where it was, what it was, and I was like, ‘Oh, that sounds like fun…sure, I’d love to do that, but…how do I dress up as Lana Lang?’…and then he [said], ‘Oh, no, how about like a cheerleading outfit?’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, right, I’m 36,’ and, from there, I, sure enough, went out and had myself a cheerleading outfit made, and I showed up as a 36-year-old cheerleader.”
“This year, we had a Car Show, we had a Cruise Night…we’ve added that. We keep looking for things that are fresh ideas to keep people’s interest in coming. Our main focus is still around the whole idea of being part of the Superman ‘Man of Steel’ movie, and keep that theme going,” said Mayor Hausler. “[We’ve] got a larger car show this year…we’ve got Mudslingers out here, which is the bicycles…they do a lot of stunts,” said Johnson. “We had two car shows this year. We brought [the] Henry Cavill [statue to] the Museum at the historic Plano Depot. When [new things come along]…hopefully [those are some things that] we can add to [the Museum],” said Diaz.
“[The Cruise Night] was done [on Friday] night, and we had some really neat-looking cars, old cars…and they were playing the ’50s and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll music, and it was a good attraction for the folks at the festival,” said Mayor Hausler. “That was fun. That’s a new addition to [our festival] this year. We had it at our west end of [our] Main Street. There [were] over 20 cars involved…so that was a good number. There were some nice-looking cars out there…some ’57 Chevys…I think I [saw] a ’54 Ford,” said Diaz. “We’ve had one other [Cruise Night], and it was right across the street. That’s where they bring out all their muscle cars and their older cars, so everybody can look at [them] and enjoy [them],” said Johnson.
“This year, what they did with the Bike Safety Rodeo…they combined with the Mudslingers, and so they were able to educate and teach them and also show them stunts and how the [professionals] ride their bicycles…so, that was pretty cool this year,” said Diaz. “[The Bike Safety Rodeo is] our police officers; the city has a standard rodeo-type system that we use to teach young bike riders the proper safety [of riding a bike]. Our police officers [manage] that,” said Mayor Hausler.
A new attraction this year was the Wild West Shooting Gallery. “[A new attraction this year was] the Wild West Shooting Gallery, and that [was] on Sunday. All participants will be able to go through the obstacle [course],” said Diaz, who explained the inspiration of the new attractions, “…we’re listening to our visitors…and we’re bringing what they want to see.”
Other attractions at this year’s Smallville SuperFest included the Legion Color Guard, “Every year, that we’ve had the festival, the Legion Color Guard has opened our event. We have our National Anthem sung, and then the Color Guard marches in, and that’s how the opening is,” said Mayor Hausler. “There was a Legion Color Guard, and Samantha Tischauser did our National Anthem. We had a big crowd for that, for Opening Ceremonies…I would say anywhere from 65 to about 80. [That was held] on the Main Stage,” said Diaz. “We have our State Representative…[they were] able to get a Proclamation, that was signed by the Governor, to proclaim our Smallville U.S.A., Plano, Illinois, and SuperFest…and the weekend of SuperFest,” said Mayor Hausler. There was also an event called Hometown Heroes, “We’ve done that every year; we recognize people in the city that have exemplified the Superman traits for the city, and this year [there were two] of our police sergeants that actually won the award,” said Mayor Hausler. The Smallville Street Dance featured hard rock music, “The band Jim Martens plays in, Fivestar Fools, they got to play… either…two or three songs [on Friday night],” said Johnson. “[Fishing With The Mayor is] an event that I really have done even before we’ve had this SuperFest, but I felt that it should be part of the SuperFest, too. What we do is, through the help of many sponsors…the Illinois D.N.R…we provide everything that’s needed for any child…or anyone…to go down to our park that has a lake added [onto] it, to fish. I get a permit from the state where no one needs a fishing license, and families are welcome to come and fish. Through the sponsorship, and everything that we’ve done, we provide everything. We even have hot dogs, Gatorade, water…for anyone to have, free. A great company in the city of Plano, called Plano Synergy…a lot of people know them as Plano Molding…they’re the largest manufacturer of…box storage equipment for the fishing industry. So, they’ve donated a lot of items for the event, and really make it a [really] nice event for the kids. Plus, we get a lot of local sponsorship. We had a good turnout; [Saturday] morning, it’s really neat, because we’ve always had young kids that catch their first fish, and it’s really neat to see the excitement on their faces, and it’s really neat to see that,” said Mayor Hausler. “That [has] a huge turnout…you don’t have to supply anything…[you can just come]…the Mayor supplies fishing poles…permits and so forth. [Mayor Hausler] said it was the same attendance that he had last year,” said Diaz. “They’ll be down at Foli Park…they started at 9 o’clock this morning, and they’ll be going [until] early afternoon. Normally, Wurst Kitchen provides all the hot dogs for the kids down there. It’s mainly for the children. The Mayor, Bob Hausler, normally has…60 poles, and they’re rigged up so that the hooks don’t have a barb on [them], because, with children, it’s hard to unhook a fish…[so the hook] just slides right out. That helps for the kids. It’s a ball watching [the] kids fish…even the small…fish…is like a 10-pound catfish to them,” said Johnson. There were also Kids’ Super Inflatables. “That’s another good event for kids…we’ve always tried to make the festival kid-friendly and family-[oriented]. That’s our focus, to have families down here, and to make it fun for kids to attend. We have a lot more things going on for the kids than we do for… adults, especially during the early part of the day. In the evenings, then…we have the Beer Garden open, and then the bands for the adults,” said Mayor Hausler. “Kids really enjoy that. That’s sponsored by [Valley West Hospital],” said Diaz.
The festival also featured a Kid’s Old-Fashioned Game Area, “That’s an interesting concept; it’s old-fashioned carnival games that are set up, and each booth…they’re all [managed] by various [not-for-profit] organizations, and as long as they have someone to volunteer to [manage] the booth, they get the profits that are generated through the games. There are charges to play those games, but it’s not very much at all. We try to incorporate [not-for-profit] fundraisers into the event, also,” said Mayor Hausler. “That’s a blast. We had [a] full house this year….all seven of our booths were [sponsored by] local [not-for-profit] organizations. [Plano] American [Legion], First Methodist Church [of Plano], the [Plano] P.A.T.T., which is the Parents and Teachers Together, [and] the First Baptist Church [of Plano],” said Diaz. “It’s like 25 cents to play, or you get 30 plays for $5. It’s very inexpensive, and everything like a ring toss to making a basketball hoop…all sorts of things for [the] kids,” said Johnson, “We’ve got…either 6 or 8 of ’em right now, and those are actually run, not by Smallville SuperFest, but by the different churches and different organizations in town.” There were also Children’s and Adult’s Water Fights, “That was another returning event. We were able to work with our fire department, [and did], not only the Children’s Water Fights, but the Adult Water Fights, also,” said Mayor Hausler. “[The children] really enjoyed that,” said Diaz. “What we did this year…we extended it, so we have family seating…that really expanded the Beer [Garden],” said Diaz. There was also a fundraiser by the Legion Riders, “That’s a neat kind of display. The Legion Riders…they bring one of their Harleys, and they have it under a tent, and people can get their pictures taken on it. It’s well-[managed] and maintained, so it’s a very safe display. Many of the Legion Riders are police officers,” said Mayor Hausler. “This year, we have a local resident that is facing Stage 3 Breast Cancer, and her name’s Angie, and there’s an Angie Wings fundraiser, and has been developed since then. Her husband had battled cancer twice before…but they are very strong people…all their proceeds [from] the Legion Riders [are] contributing to that fundraiser,” said Diaz. “Legion Riders have got probably a [half-dozen] motorcycles down there, and you could jump on one and pose for a picture,” said Johnson.
The Plano Library had a book sale, “[The library starts] that [book sale], they [begin it] on [August] 14th, always the beginning of our festival…it’s a really nice addition,” said Diaz. The Super Cutouts returned, “Those were built by one of our Committee members…actually, the person that does the artwork. He did a great job, and it’s one of our main attractions, that people get their pictures taken, or take pictures of their children. Those Cutouts…we have the flag mural in the background. You can get some neat pictures,” said Mayor Hausler. “[We may add a] Batman…maybe a Wonder Woman…it depends on the new Justice League movie,” said Diaz. There was also a Pancake Eating Contest, “Pancake Eating Contest was great this year. They had 10 participants…and it took about 40 minutes for the winner to win,” said Diaz. “See…who can eat the most pancakes…nice Kryptonite-green pancakes,” said Johnson. Diaz explained 95.9 The River Mobile Vehicle, “What they do is [they] come out and they [generate] interest [in] the radio station.” There was also a [Krypto] Jello Eating Contest, “[The participants that drink] green jello [through a straw]…the [most quickly] wins. [There are] three different age groups, and then we have a playoff after [that],” said Diaz. There was also an Excavation of a Vehicle, “The fire department [demonstrates the excavation of a vehicle]. The fire department came to me [with that idea],” said Diaz. There was also a SuperFest Worship Service, “That’s a multidenominational [service],” said Diaz. Diaz explained 50/50, “We…sell tickets and split the pot.” “[It’s an] idea to generate some funds for the Committee. [Smallville SuperFest] is put on by sponsorship and by money generated by the Committee for the festival. It’s self-sustaining,” said Mayor Hausler. There was also a Balloon Launch, “[We’re] honoring one of our fellow photographers that had come down [for] the filming of the [‘Man of Steel’] movie…she passed away in September, and so, we’re honoring her and we’re also honoring all [of] our losses. The balloon has little lights in it, and lights up when [it is let] go. [That idea was inspired by] a local merchant [that] does it yearly,” said Diaz. The Andrew Kuebrich 5K [Hero] Run honored one of Plano’s residents, “That’s [an] event commemorating the life of one of our young residents who had passed away,” said Mayor Hausler. Also included was a Bluegrass Session, “We have some guys that [play music] and have fun,” said Diaz. There was a Friendly-Tap Poker Run, “That’s a fundraising event that one of our local bars [does]…the bar contributes that money to a charity [event],” said Mayor Hausler. D.J. A.J. Torres is “…our D.J. that does the announcements,” said Mayor Hausler. There was also a caricature artist: “One of our residents that makes different caricatures out of balloons,” said Mayor Hausler, “as far as the people attending…I have had positive feedback about [the attractions].”
There was a parade on Sunday afternoon. “We start our parade at the high school, with all the different people that want to be in the parade, that have registered, and, as we’re going down Main Street…the vehicles that want to be part of the ‘Touch-A-Truck’ pull off to one of our side streets, and then that ‘Touch-A-Truck’ event happens there, but the parade continues,” said Mayor Hausler. The Touch-A-Truck followed the parade, “This year, I think we have three or four tractors, we have a fire truck and an ambulance,” said Diaz.
“Gold Star [Academy] had sponsored the Obstacle Course. We had the Cruise Night. The Bike Demo from Mudslingers [was] new to our addition. We [had] the official Blackhawks Vehicle…[that was] a new addition. The Car Show [was] held [Saturday] afternoon, [along with] the Wild West Shooting Gallery,” said Diaz.
This year, Smallville SuperFest featured a variety of people in costume. Kelly Guentner, who portrayed Black Widow, “[heard about Smallville SuperFest] from Charlee, the official Superboy.” “We’re big superhero fans, and some of our friends are here…our friends from the Superman Celebration are here, like Wes and Charlee and Colleen,” said Kelly Guentner. Thomas Guentner, who portrayed Quicksilver, heard about Smallville SuperFest from Charlee Soffer, “Just being in costume makes events like this more fun,” said Thomas Guentner. Laura Funk, who portrayed Scarlet Witch, heard about the Festival from Soffer, “This is where they filmed ‘Man of Steel’.” Wes Krall, who portrayed Tony Stark, Iron Man, also heard about the Festival from Soffer, “Last year, everybody really enjoyed it.”
“‘Lois and Clark’…I was a big fan when I was in middle school…that really got me hooked on Superman, specifically. Before that, I was into Batman, so I was kind of into the DC Universe, anyways,” said Kelly Guentner. : “I grew up with Power Rangers, X-Men, Batman, Superman, all those cartoons and kids shows. I never really grew up from that…I wanted to still be a superhero,” said Thomas Guentner. “Christopher Reeve…that’s my Superman. That’s what I grew up with,” said Funk. “If I could get paid to do this for a living, I would,” said Krall.
Kelly Guentner describes her earliest memories of Superman, “Definitely ‘Lois and Clark’…just watching that every week…being so excited about Clark Kent and Lois Lane and the Daily Planet.” “Superman movies with Christopher Reeve…they [came out] just before I was born…so young…I watched them and it was fun,” said Thomas Guentner. “A lot of re-runs of ‘I Love Lucy’ [when George Reeves was on the TV show],” said Funk. “[I’ll go with] Christopher Reeve…that man made us believe a man can fly,” said Krall.
Superman appeals to so many people because, “he stands for truth and justice and the American Way, and I think those are values that are timeless. I think everyone wants to be the geek who secretly can save the world,” said Kelly Guentner. “His powers make him so strong, and yet, his character never gives way…he’s referred to as somebody to look up to,” said Thomas Guentner. “He’s wholesome…but still fierce in what he stands up for. He’s sincere…truth, honesty, strong-willed. He’s Superman,” said Funk.
Kelly Guentner initially became a Superman fan, “specifically, when I was watching ‘Lois and Clark’, and waiting every week for a new episode to come out, and then I started reading comics, started watching the DC Animated Universe…just [fell in] love with him.” “[The] first time I saw Superman II, [where] he goes against the other Kryptonians. It’s just so much fun to see powered people going against each other,” said Thomas Guentner. “Lois Lane, for me…she’s always been one of my favorite characters ever. To me, you can’t have Superman without Lois Lane. She’s so down-to-earth…she knows what she wants…she goes after it,” said Funk. “I watched the Christopher Reeve movies, and they were really good, but ‘Smallville’ with Tom Welling is probably the most I’ve had as far as really learning about him. I was a fan of the superheroes that weren’t superpowered, like the humans that were heroes,” said Krall.
“I actually…put [my costume] together for a charity event, because I needed a recognizable superheroine…and there aren’t many. I do love Black Widow,” said Kelly Guentner, “For Heroes Alliance…the specific charity event…we had an Autism Walk that we participated in.” “[My costume] is based off the Avengers movie. I’ve always been into speedsters…the Flash and Quicksilver [have] been my favorites. When my wife is going to come as Black Widow, when we had another Scarlet Witch, and an Iron Man…it’s like, ‘Let’s throw it together…Quicksilver it is,” said Thomas Guentner. “[Scarlet Witch has] always been one of my favorites, probably because of her powers,” said Funk. “I am Iron Man. The suit is a high-tech prosthesis, and it’s really entertaining for people. [People] recognize him pretty easily…[the] light-up chest,” said Krall. “This year, just like last year, when I did a makeshift ‘Man of Steel,’ I wasn’t too happy with it. So…for this year, I still wanted to do the ‘Man of Steel,’ but I wanted to up my game. I always try to do a better costume…see…test your limits. You never know how [well] you’re going to do unless you test your limits. So, I found [that] I could easily [find] a deluxe cape, move the logo from the cape to the suit, and the cape, by itself, even with just the plain red set…I think it looks really good. I’m very happy it worked out this year,” said Charlee Soffer (Chartrand), who portrayed Superboy, and “…first found out [from the first year], about the Fest…they didn’t have a Superman. So, I emailed Jim [Martens], and said, ‘I heard you guys don’t have [a Superman]. Do you need one? Do you already have one in mind?’ They said, ‘No one’s stepped up yet,’ and the rest is history.” “When we were in Metropolis, we were all doing a photo shoot, we were doing the movie, ‘Grease’…we had…Clark Kent, Green Arrow, Hawkman, and so forth… all dressed up in leather jackets, but some version of their character….a ‘Greaser’ version…and one of our friends that was there…a couple…they both had these Hawkman wings, and the woman had the Hawkgirl wings. They told me that they were selling a pair of the wings, that she was wearing, [because] they had made an extra set. They make these…I bought [them], right there, and so I wore them in Metropolis, just kind of wearing [them] around, just to see how they’d do…it wasn’t like I had a character in mind, and then I had to get wings. I thought the wings were so cool…[they spread out]…they move. I thought the wings were so cool…I’ve [got to] figure out which character to be…[there are] two characters that I realized that I had enough stuff for…[throwing] some things together to come down [to Plano], that I didn’t have a lot of [preparation] time, so [I put together] some stuff for Hawkgirl and some stuff for Angel,” said Egan.
Soffer explained his last name, Soffer. “That’s actually my mother’s maiden name. I’ve decided to go with my mother’s maiden name publicly, because, on my mother’s side of the family, her family did go into show business a lot, and her brother, actually, is in L.A., my uncle [Larry]. He’s out there, trying to make a name for himself, and I’m trying to bring the show business lifestyle back to the Soffer family. I guess it’s the showman side of my family that I’m really proud of, and I want to do it for mom, because she gave up her broadway career to have me,” said Soffer, “Aside from reflecting my Jewish heritage….in Hebrew, ‘Soffer’ means ‘scribe.’ Being Superman, it’s perfect for someone who moonlights as a reporter.”
“Before I got into making things myself, Jean Grey and Cyclops for myself and my husband. [Jean Grey is] X-Men,” said Kelly Guentner. “Cyclops…to go along with her Jean Grey,” said Thomas Guentner. “Pretty much all my costumes…you start [with the basis], and you get pieces you can make. If somebody else can do it better than you, Kelly [Guentner] pretty much fashions all my stuff together to make them work,” said Funk. “The [modifications] and repairs were done by me, but the initial construction was done by creator James Fipps,” said Krall. “I like to go by the rule…if I can’t make it, I’ll find it. If you can’t make it yourself, always find a trusted friend or trusted source where you know it can be made with just as much care. I do like to make my own belts. As far as boots are concerned, [there are] people who always like to go for boots. There [is] a small group of [people] who are basically just talented to the bone with spandex. So, I like to go [to] them for bodysuits,” said Soffer. “I’ve had someone commission something else…it was an Artemis-Wonder Woman outfit made out of all leather,” said Egan.
“I’ve been designing costumes for about…5…6 years now, but, before that, I had no formal experience in design. [I’ve made] Black Canary and Wonder Woman…Supergirl…Lois Lane…Green Arrow…Scarlet Witch for [Laura Funk], Black Widow,” said Kelly Guentner. “The only one I’ve made mostly by myself was the Flash,” said Thomas Guentner. “I haven’t really had any experience with costume design, but [I always have a new project in mind], and I’ll just research as much as I can, as many pictures as I can find. I always like to design something, and put my own spin on it. I’ll put a little bit more skill into it, so [I’m] not literally just copying something. You could always inspire a costume off of something that you want to dress as, but you can put your own design on it, and help develop your own tastes,” said Soffer. “[I don’t have any] experience with designing…I’ve learned some tips [of the] trade from [Soffer], and then…watching him and some of the other [Superfriends]…how they create certain aspects of their costumes. So, when I run into an issue [with my costume]…[I’m like], ‘Oh…that’s how they made that belt before.’ So…if I [needed]…a simple belt…[instead of hunting down] an X-Men belt within like 2 days, [Soffer] gave me this little yellow piece of leather, and I slapped some black tape [across] it, and taped it on top of my Superman buckle. So, just little things like that. And [the belt] lasts pretty much all day, and nobody would [ever have known] the difference,” said Egan.
“I think it’s important for girls to see that they can be anything they want [to] be, and that they can be a superhero or they can be a princess…and I think it’s important for boys to see that girls can be superheroes, too,” said Kelly Guentner, “A lot of little girls get really excited to see superheroines, because [usually] they don’t see them. Pretty much, [they’ll] just come up, and I’ve had little girls [who were] like, ‘Black Widow’s my favorite,’ and that’s always the best.” “We definitely get a lot more when we’re doing our Heroes Alliance charity stuff…you can see [them] from a distance…[they’ll] come up to you…they definitely know you’re super,” said Funk. “I…think it…depends on how [the superheroine is] portrayed, because…some superhero females are portrayed in a [matter that is too mature] for young girls, and then [the young girls] try to emulate that. If [the superheroines are] following suit, with some of the more…conservative models. My favorite Supergirl was Helen [Slater]. If young girls are trying to follow [Helen Slater’s Supergirl], and emulate her, versus the Supergirl [who is dressed in a more revealing manner]. I think it depends on who the artist is, [that is] creating that version of that female character. I’ve always [liked] Lana Lang, because that was [the] first [costume] that I did with [Soffer]…all the versions of Lana, to me, have always been good, and they’ve always been tasteful. I [love] Hawkgirl, I like some of the female archers, the speedy…[Artemis is] not as well-known as some of the other Wonder Woman characters…for me, when I decided [to do] a Wonder Woman character, it’s always so good to be Artemis. [Of] those characters…to be one…I chose Artemis…it’s easy to be, [because] she’s a red head, too,” said Egan.
Kelly Guentner explained the modifications to her costume, “For this [costume], this is my second belt, and I’m going to be modifying the bracelets…it’s always a work in progress. Right now, [the bracelets] snap. I’m going to change [them] so they’ve got elastic, so I could put them on [more easily], and probably repaint them.” “I think the hardest part about being a costumer is wanting everything to look exact…exact detail, down to the way something is [sewn]. We always start with 1.0…the end product hopes to be exact,” said Funk. “Hinges, lighting…new helmet. [The new hinges are in] my arms and my legs. [The] lighting [is] in my helmet,” said Krall. “A couple [of] times, if I grow out of something, or something gets too old, I’ll modify it, so [I can use it] for something else. For example, in Metropolis, this past year. I did Superboy-Prime…the big, armored one. I took a couple [of] old suits that I haven’t used for a long time, that were all ripped…and I [modified them], and I could wear them underneath the armor, to give it a very battle-damaged look. So, there’s always a way to find something, even if you’re not going to use it anymore…you might be able to repurpose it in the future…so it’s worth holding onto,” said Soffer, “I’m sure, over time, there’s always [going to] be a costume to re-modify. I plan on bringing back my Conner Kent ’90s Superboy suit, but I’d like to do a modification to it, to where, instead of a…leather jacket…has a couple [of] slits [at] the top, so I can add a red cape to it. It’s from the ‘Sins of Youth’ storyline, where it was a grown-up Superboy, with the red cape, instead of the jacket, and I’ve always liked that version, because it gave a very classy look to a very cool character from the ’90s.” “Yes. [The Hawkgirl costume] that I wore yesterday was more black than yellow, [because there are] various versions and colors…color combinations of Hawkgirl over the years. The most common in the animated world was [when Hawkgirl] wore the green and the yellow…with the red trunks…she had her helmet on. Later on, they had the animated version, and that’s what I learned when I bought these wings, [the people that Egan bought the Angel wings from] pulled up some pictures of Hawkgirl wearing a yellow and black…leotard-type [outfit]. Hawkgirl didn’t have a helmet, and she just…wore the yellow and black. So, I just went with all black and yellow trim,” said Egan. “I’ve made a second Batgirl costume, and I call that…my second version. I’m always…looking to kind of upgrade [my costumes], [because] the more I do it, the more I kind of watch the friends that I’ve had [make their costumes] over the years, and I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, and I can do this, and I can do this’…getting tips from them and everything. Then, I’d get online, and just…research more information…and see other things, and I’m like, ‘Oh, wow, I [didn’t know] something like that could exist,’” said Egan.
“Most people know [this costume]. I get little kids running up all excited. [I] get lots of compliments,” said Kelly Guentner. “It does help being in a group, because that helps…people recognize, ‘Oh, yeah, I know’, and then they know who the lesser-known characters are,” said Funk. “‘Hey, can I have your picture’ [about] every 5 seconds. [The kids] see their hero,” said Krall. “It was really great; a lot of people liked the suit…[there was] the ‘Man of Steel’ statue…the big one in the Museum, here at the Depot, and, when I saw that that was [going to] be here, I knew I had to finish this in time, [because] I wanted to have a ‘Man of Steel’ logo at [that] statue, and everything worked out. So, people were happy, and I was happy that it worked out,” said Soffer, “It felt really good. I was really glad that it worked out. It felt really good that everyone received it well.” “People enjoyed the wings, and the folks that made [them]…they told me that people would react that way,” said Egan, “It was awesome.”
If Kelly Guentner came as a different character, she would be, “Black Canary. I really relate to her. She’s…got a big heart.” “Probably the Flash. I like the fast characters…the speedy characters…I like that power…it just seems like [it would] be an interesting power to have. The Flash, in particular, is a little bit more goofy, and a little more fun-loving. I like that kind of personality,” said Thomas Guentner. “I really like characters that are pretty much myself…the Huntress is my favorite character…she’s my favorite, for sure. She’s Black Canary’s best friend. They’re part of the Gotham City universe,” said Funk. “The number one costume I always go for is Green Arrow; I can relate to him on so many levels. One being I have every single Green Arrow comic from 1980…also, archery I have been doing since I was 12 years old…I have been in ASA tournaments…the last thing I hit…at 20 yards…I cut an Aspirin in half with an arrow…it’s the modern-day Robin Hood,” said Krall. “I’m always [going to] either be Kal, Clark, or [Superboy]. It’s a promise that I’ve made to Plano, because they deserve to have a Superman here every year. [Friday is] always going to be my Clark day; I’m never going to wear a costume on Friday, unless the Mayor tells me otherwise. I usually always wear Superman or [Super]boy, or anything that starts ‘super,’ I always try to do that for Saturday and Sunday…especially the parade,” said Soffer. “I’ve always been a huge Green Arrow fan, ever since I started watching Smallville. I always loved Justin Hartley’s ‘Green Arrow’, and I wanted to take that, and turn it into a female version of Green Arrow,” said Egan, “I think it’s going to be more looking at the version that was created for the guys, and one of our friends has the actual Justin Hartley version. Then, we have a friend that does leatherworks, who made my Artemis costume…I would have to probably draw up a design of what I would want [to look differently]. It’s a matter of just finding those subtle differences, but yet still it’s obvious that it’s ‘Green Arrow’ from the Smallville series.”
Thomas Guentner explained how he thought people would react, if he wore another costume, “It’s fun when everybody recognizes you, but you get much bigger reactions [for obscure characters]…when somebody gets it.” “It really depends on the character; the more recognizable characters always get more attention. The characters that less people know…if someone knows you, they get really excited, because they don’t see many of those characters,” said Kelly Guentner. “I like doing the obscure characters…we have a couple of costumes from [the Roswell TV series]; we wore them to a convention. People recognize us, [because] hardly anybody knows that we get excited, and we want our picture with them, because they knew who we were,” said Funk. “If it was Iron Man, about the same as they do now, [because] that’s a very popular one in the Marvel world. As long as they can recognize them, kids and adults…[because the inner kid within the adult] will always enjoy it,” Krall.
Kelly Guentner explained the easiest (and most challenging) parts of portraying her character, “It’s pretty easy. The most difficult is that it’s [warm]. My Wonder Woman costume has the most pieces; so it has a belt…it has boots and skirt, and corset, and tiara, and [wings]…and, then, of course, the Black Canary costume, depending on which version, that one’s not too bad, either.” “This costume breathes pretty well, so it’s pretty comfortable to wear, just trying to figure the good poses for somebody who’s supposed to be running around 50 times faster than everybody else,” said Thomas Guentner. “The easiest part…wearing it…finally [having finished] it, and you’re in [the costume],” said Funk. “Putting the suit on…it takes two people,” said Krall. “The hardest part of my costume was maintaining everything [on] the costume…while I was helping her put on her wings. The costume, for me, the only problem…the cape, a string fell loose…but [that was] easy to fix that. I was more worried about making sure her costume worked,” said Soffer. “The easiest was just walking [around]. The most difficult thing is actually getting [the wings] off. Getting [the wings] on usually takes… me plus…two people,” said Egan.
If Kelly Guentner could choose characters to be in a superhero movie, “Definitely Black Canary…Green Arrow…pretty much all those DC characters I’d love to see.” “They’re making so many [movies from comic book characters]…probably Green Arrow would be one of the ones that I would want,” said Thomas Guentner. “I’m going to go with…I like obscure characters…I think that’s where Marvel is doing a good job…they’re giving attention to these characters. Nobody knew who they were…until they came to the big screen. I hope DC does a lot with obscure characters, like Suicide Squad’s coming out; I can’t wait for that…I think that’s [going to] be their biggest hit… because [there are] characters that nobody knows in that,” said Funk. “More female superhero movies would be interesting to see,” said Krall.
“Green Arrow…if he’s in the movie, he can be the voice of the common person, [because] he is just a regular person that pulls on a suit and bow and arrow and he’s got that…goofiness, but he keeps in mind that…we have to think about the people…the big picture,” said Thomas Guentner. “Definitely Black Canary has had leadership roles with the Justice League in the comics, so I’ll like to see that. I’d like to see Green Arrow…kind of lightening the mood,” said Kelly Guentner. “Following the comics. Anything that [comes] from the comics…sometimes, [that’s] all you need,” said Funk. “If I could choose a character for a superhero, and what they’d do…inspire and just send a message. I always say, ‘It doesn’t matter how old you are, what size you are, you can do it…don’t give up, always find a way’,” said Krall.
Thomas Guentner described his thoughts on the upcoming “Supergirl” TV series, “I’m excited about it. It’s seeming like they’re pulling it as an underdog story, and I think it’s going to show that Supergirl really isn’t an underdog. She’s so strong, and so good…just like Superman…but nobody believes in her just because she’s a woman. I think it’s [going to] show that that’s not the case.” “I think it’s [going to] be really good. From the promos, it looks like they’ve really got the tone right. They kind of got a nice balance with humor…and…action. I think the casting is fabulous. Melissa’s [Benoist] very clearly happy to be Supergirl. That’s huge…the actor or actress playing [the] role needs to be passionate about it,” said Kelly Guentner. “I am actually hoping to see Stephen Amell [Green Arrow on the CW show, ‘Green Arrow’] cross paths with Supergirl’s character. That would be interesting,” said Krall. “I give it my best wishes; I think Melissa’s going to do a good job, and it’s going to [have] a lot of seasons,” said Soffer. “I think I’m going to like it,” said Egan.
“I want to see a lot of what you might see in a Superman movie or show…big strong enemies…I don’t want them to weaken the enemies just because it’s a girl…throw her against Superman’s actual enemies…she’s a powerhouse all by herself…you don’t really need the relationship aspect to anything…show that a female superhero can just be as strong and as good as male superheroes,” said Thomas Guentner. “I want to see more than just her job at the magazine, but I want to see her figuring out how to use her powers, kind [of] figuring out how to get out from under her cousin’s shadow, and just figure [out] to be a hero in her own right,” said Kelly Guentner. “I would just like to see [Supergirl] interacting [with] more heroes from that universe on the show…not too many…bring some more [heroes] out [on the show]. [It would] be good [for character introductions],” said Funk. “I don’t want to see the enemies take it easy just [because] she’s a girl,” said Krall. “I’m excited to see some classic Superman villains come in. I’d like to see some classic, good Superman-Supergirl storylines, I’d like to see the face of that Superman actor who’s been picked…he’s from St. Louis, that makes me happy. I’d like to see what his costume looks like…if it’s the same as Supergirl. It’s the same media franchise as CW for ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’…over the next couple [of] seasons, I’d like for them to start blending both in, because, if they’re all on TV together, and they’re the same media company, we all know they’re going to be together eventually,” said Soffer. “It would be nice…[to see the show do flashbacks…to see the history of Supergirl],” said Egan.
“I’m a little biased; Flash is my favorite character. The actor is just doing a great job at showing Barry Allen’s [geeky tendencies]. Being a scientist…[they’re] showing that part of it…it’s not just him speeding through and beating everybody…he’s [got to] learn how to use his powers, and it’s just…it’s a lot of fun, because they’re trying to stay very true to the character…not trying to change stuff, but making it fit modern times,” said Thomas Guentner, of The Flash TV series. “It was wonderful. They were not afraid to be a little goofy, but they also had a [nice] mix of drama and humor. They were not ashamed of their comics history, and just kind of gave us some things from the comics. I liked it,” said Kelly Guentner. “I did enjoy [crossover episodes] when he went on [the] Arrow [TV show], though, that was truly comedic. [An obvious] question is…with [the] Flash character, how often does he go through sneakers?” said Krall. “I like it…it’s very classic Flash. I think it’s going to do really good. They’re bringing back classic stuff to remind people of where the shows came from. That’s very important, and they’re sticking to that,” said Soffer. “I’ve been very entertained. I was always entertained by it. I thought they did an excellent job, whether it was the costuming, and the filming, and I loved how [there] was the crossover between Flash and Arrow, and how they each would show up on each other’s shows, and even when they weren’t on each other’s shows, they were still part of each other’s lives,” said Egan.
“What I’m looking forward to is just more development of his abilities, more recognition of what he can do. [I’m looking forward to] other Flash characters, [because] Barry Allen is just the second, technically, to take on the mantle of ‘The Flash’. So, taking in other characters…the Reverse-Flash was a good place to start. Just have him interact with other people with the same-type powers…Supergirl-Arrow crossovers so we can see more hero [connections],” said Thomas Guentner. “I like the one where [Barry] got to go back in time…I always like time travel sci-fi. If I had to write any, write more [episodes] like that. When [Barry] runs so fast, I know he can break the time barrier,” said Krall.
“The one movie that actually, still to this day, that is still my favorite, that inspired me to actually get into archery…then eventually into costuming…Kevin Costner…Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves…that’s what started it all,” said Krall. “Arrow,” said Funk. “The Flash,” said Thomas Guentner. “I would have to say The Flash. [I’m] also a huge fan of Agent Carter,” said Kelly Guentner.
“Lois Lane, definitely, and, of course, Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen…pretty much all of them,” said Kelly Guentner, of her favorite Smallville/Superman characters. “Probably Superman, himself…he’s the good guy [that] always tries to do the best he can. [I] kind of like villains, too, so Darkseid and Brainiac are probably my favorite [enemies]…Parasite. Superman’s got some good villains to go against,” said Thomas Guentner. “I really like villains too, so I have to [say]…in the Smallville series…Lex Luthor. Michael Rosenbaum did such an awesome job…he’s a great Lex Luthor…Lois…Chloe, too,” said Funk. “Smallville went 10 years, so that’s a decade of heroes and villains coming [and going]…hero…Oliver Queen. Villains…between Lex Luthor and Brainiac. James Marsters brought a very good just death and detail to it,” said Krall.
“[My favorite supporting characters]…that goes to number one, Jonathan Kent and John Schneider on Smallville…no matter what, he was always there for [Clark],” said Krall. “Chloe…from Smallville…Saturn Girl…the Legion,” said Funk. “Jimmy Olsen…I like [because] he’s just steadfast…Chloe from Smallville. She was a fun character, and brought a little personality to Tom Welling’s Superman,” said Thomas Guentner. “Perry White…I like the Kents…Cat Grant [is] pretty interesting…Jimmy Olsen,” said Kelly Guentner.
Kelly Guentner said that her favorite comic is “Birds of Prey.” “I like the characters…the favorite one that I’ve read was the ‘Blackest Night’,” said Thomas Guentner. “I like anything written by Andy Diggle…literally, anything. My new comic series…’Uncanny [Volume] 1: [Season of] Hungry [Ghosts]’…it’s awesome. He also did the ‘Arrow’, which the TV show, ‘Arrow’ is based off of…literally, anything he writes, I will read it,” said Funk. “Anything written, actually, by Alex Ross and Mark Waid, I will read over and over, because you will find more and more each time you read it,” said Krall.
Krall explained his favorite Smallville episode, “The first appearance of Oliver Queen…it wasn’t Green Arrow. He was on a rooftop…white suit…holding the PSE Mojo…I own that bow…that cost me $2,000 to buy that. He was using that, and firing arrows…and shoots an arrow like 90 yards, and it lands…on top…of the Daily Planet.” “The first time Lois appears…that was a great episode. The season finale…that was pretty epic…Lex Luthor…that was a great 2 hours of television right there,” said Funk. “My favorite episode was probably the first time the Flash’s character, Barry Allen, came in, ‘Justice’ was a great one, too…any [episode] where they have another DC character in it. Any one of those were really well-done episodes,” said Thomas Guentner. “Definitely the Justice League one, that was called ‘Justice’, because it was just great to see the heroes coming together. The pilot was really good…it just really set the tone for the series, and kind of captured the feeling of Superman. I liked the finale,” said Kelly Guentner.
If Kelly Guentner could be any Smallville character, she would be “Black Canary.” “Impulse,” said Thomas Guentner. “I’d be Lois Lane,” said Funk. “Lex Luthor,” said Krall.
“I got to meet Justin Hartley, who was Oliver Queen in ‘Smallville’, and my husband and I were dressed as Green Arrow and Black Canary…and we were in the back of the line, and he stopped signing autographs, to take a picture of us, and it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s awesome!’. That was the best. [I met] Allison Mack…she was really nice, too. If I could meet anyone, Brandon Routh,” said Kelly Guentner. “The only one that I can remember meeting is Justin Hartley. [It was] just great to have the person who plays [the] ‘Green Arrow’ character see and love my ‘Green Arrow’ costume, want to get a picture of it, himself. I think meeting Tom Welling [would be] pretty cool…Michael Rosenbaum…Kristen Kreuk,” said Thomas Guentner. “By [the] time I got to Metropolis…I met Laura Vandervoort, who played Supergirl, and Sam [Witwer], who played Doomsday. That was interesting…that was fun. You always meet a lot of the people, and, to meet [them]…it’s either not the same or pretty much how you thought it was going to [be]. I would like to meet Tom Welling, too, but I would definitely like to meet Erica Durance, who played Lois,” said Funk. “My most memorable one is…I was in Metropolis, Illinois…at Harrah’s, having dinner with a friend of mine, and, as we were walking out, John Glover, [who] played Lionel Luthor…I got to [sit] down, and finish dinner with John Glover and Cassidy Freeman, quite enjoyable…the stories he told me [were] good…I told him about my theater. If I [could] meet anybody, Stephen Amell,” said Krall.
Krall explained his favorite character portrayal, “John Schneider…Jonathan Kent…he did an outstanding job.” “I really liked how Elizabeth Olsen portrayed Scarlet Witch in the new movie…I think she made that movie…I think Christopher Reeve…his Clark Kent is pretty much the best…Clark Kent I think,” said Funk. “Probably Christopher Reeve…for Clark Kent,” said Thomas Guentner. “I would probably [have] to say Greg Gustin’s Flash is my favorite,” said Kelly Guentner.
“I would love to tell Katie Cassidy that she is awesome…as Black Canary,” said Kelly Guentner. “Stephen Amell…Arrow…you’re doing a great job…keep up the hard work,” said Krall. “[To] Greg Gustin…just keep [that]…energy…keep playing that character,” said Thomas Guentner.
Kelly Guentner explained what she would like to teach future generations about Superman, “I really hope they don’t lose his ethical side…I hope they don’t lose the part of him that has hope for humanity, and that really looks at humans and sees that we can be better, and tries to inspire us to be better.” “His ethics…where he stands up for people who can’t [stand up]…because he has the power to do so,” said Thomas Guentner. “I feel like his whole essence is…whoever you are, wherever you’re from…you can still do good in the world. One person can make a difference,” said Funk.
There were a variety of bands at this year’s Smallville SuperFest. “They had two country-western bands right off the bat [Friday] night, and then…two rock-‘n’-roll bands,” said Johnson. “This year, [there are] a few local additions [to our bands]. Last night, we had Woody James…then we had Judy Upp [returning again this year], Broken Ego has returned, Fivestar Fools [has] returned, and that was our headliner for Friday night. [On] Saturday, we had A.J. Torres as our D.J., during the day, and then we started [Saturday] night…with Dead River. In addition to our music will be a local band called Tennessee Slim and the Whiskey Hounds, and then Rebel is coming back, and then Joker’s Rival. Our very own Jim Martens [is] in the Fivestar Fools,” said Diaz.
Roxanne Cann-Dittman, who got involved “…the first year, it was put together…I was one of the paparazzo that was…here, trying to shoot pictures during the filming, and then, when I got this together, we thought [it would] be [an] awesome thing. I live in Plano, so I think it’s fantastic for our town. My son and I have been on it ever since,” explained her role in Smallville SuperFest this year, “I do the children’s music…I do some [of the] photography.” “I play a little [bit] of everything…I play everything from Christian rock…[to] classic rock…anything from about 1950, [until] now,” said Cann-Dittman, “I just wanted to play guitar. At [that] time, I was like 8 [years old]. Now, I’m playing my guitar like Elvis. Elvis and the Beatles…were my favorites at that point, and I wanted to play guitar like they did, and I started [taking] lessons.” “I’ve been playing guitar for [about] 40 years now, and I’ve been playing ukulele for about 5 [years]. I actually like the ukulele a little better, I think, [because] it’s easier to take places, and it always makes people smile,” said Cann-Dittman, “‘Me & Bobby McGee’…probably one of my favorites…Melissa Etheridge…classic rock stuff is probably some of my most favorite…and then the Christian music…’Something Beautiful’. I love music, and I love playing.” “Last year was my first year doing the kids’ music here. I was here on Saturday, and I played [for] 6 hours…the kids loved it. [The kids] come up, and they play the tambourine, or they play the bells…the ukulele’s actually very nice…it’s a ‘C’ chord, so you can play a song,” said Cann-Dittman, “When I teach the kids, usually we’re doing ukulele…we teach children songs like, ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat,’ ‘The Itsy-Bitsy Spider,’ and those songs…easy songs first. Last year, one [of them] wanted to learn, ‘Let It Go,’ and ‘Do You Wanna Build A Snowman,’ so that was a big hit. If there’s [a song the kids are interested in], I’ll figure out [a way to teach the song to them].” “I’ve taught anyone from 4 [years of age] up to…I’ve taught some people that were in their 50s,” said Cann-Dittman.
“I just love it…I think it’s a fantastic [event] for our town. I think it’s a great opportunity for our town…[to] shine…[to] show people [that] we’re super,” said Cann-Dittman, “I love coming down [to Smallville SuperFest]. I like being down here, and seeing people from town. It’s nice to see people come in…a lot of people [were] coming in to see the statue of Henry that was in the Museum…it’s amazing-the people that come into the Museum from all over the country.”
“I think [the Museum is] great…we’ve got a set mock-up that Warner Brothers donated…it’s kind of cool to see how the streets are set up. People are…pretty impressed when they go in, and see…and they can actually touch something that was in the movie…see the autograph stuff that’s in there,” said Cann-Dittman, “I really like the key that [Warner Brothers] gave us, actually…Dylan [Sprayberry]…he presented us with the key from the movie…that’s really cool.”
“I think everyone loves the Zipline down Main Street…that’s probably one of my favorite things, too…that [and]…I think the bands have been a good attraction. The Bounce House stuff [is popular]. One of my favorite parts of [Smallville SuperFest] is [The Andrew Kuebrich] run,” said Cann-Dittman, “I’d love to see Henry come. That would be awesome. I’d really like to see more people that are into the comic books…be here. I think, as the years go by, [we’ll] see more people. It’s kind of cool…because the more people you get out here with the costumes, and comics, and all of that…I think it just attracts more people. I think they’re surprised, when they get here…they see the Museum…they know every little thing about the movie.”
There were also a variety of food vendors, “This year, we had an additional barbeque, and it’s a local company that’s very popular…and we had a new taco business that came in…we’ve had a lot of additional new food vendors. [Gonzo’s Pizzeria], [and] Greek Delights [is returning],” said Diaz.
Nate Dlisle explained his role at this year’s Smallville SuperFest, “I work for Greek Delights…and [was asked] if I wanted to come work this weekend in Plano…I live in DeKalb.” “I’m a big fan of Superman…always have been. I just think it’s pretty cool that it helps support the town…get everybody involved. [I’ve seen] a lot of people around, and it’s a cool little festival,” said Dlisle, “I like it; [they’ve got] a lot of cool things. I like how it gets the community involved, and they’ve [got] all the servicemen…putting on some cool [events]. [The] music is pretty cool.” “I like the music,” said Dlisle, “I like the country music…when they were playing the music [Saturday] night. The last two bands [on Saturday night] were pretty cool. I like [them].” Dlisle explained what he would like to see, in the future, at Smallville SuperFest, “Maybe just a little bit of a mix-up of the layout. All of the superheroes dressed up and everything…that was pretty cool.”
The Museum now has extended hours, “We actually, back about a year-and-a-half ago, we did expand the hours some, during the weekends that the Museum is open. As we get more Amtrak service…we’re scheduled to get some more of that…then the Depot will be open longer, and the Museum will be open longer,” said Mayor Hausler, “This year, we’ve added [a] Superman statue that was loaned to us. We do have many other items, that we haven’t yet displayed…we will be changing the displays in the Museum, to showcase those items. We do have a lot…[that] haven’t yet been displayed.”
Mayor Hausler described some of the props that are currently in the Museum. “A lot of the props that are on display right now were prominent in the movie. We have a [part] of [an] airplane that was crashed. We have the 7-Eleven gas pumps that were blown up, we have a portion of the train that was crashed into the Sears building. One of the most popular items was the artist rendering of our downtown that Warner Brothers actually constructed before they did the actual construction of the buildings.”
The Zipline and the Euro-Bungee have been returning attractions at Smallville SuperFest. “We [typically sell] 128 tickets [per year],” said Diaz. Diaz attributes this to “the popularity of [the returning attractions]…everyone needs to fly down Main Street U.S.A.”
“As you can see, the Zipline, itself, takes up almost a whole block of the Festival area. So, for us to [add more rides like the Zipline] we would definitely have to expand [the Festival grounds],” said Mayor Hausler. “[We’re possibly] adding other rides [and] so forth,” said Diaz. There are plans to add new attractions and expand the length of the Smallville SuperFest festival grounds.
Mayor Hausler describes his thoughts on the upcoming “Batman v. Superman” movie, : “I think it’ll be another action-packed movie, and like, ‘Superman: Man of Steel’ was, where I have to see it two or three times to catch everything…it seems to me like it would be [an] interesting movie to see [from the trailer].” Regarding multiple superheroes being included in the movie, “I would have to see the movie, to see how they interact…it is a unique concept,” said Mayor Hausler, “I’d like to see them decide to come back to Smallville.” “It’s a good teaser…to make you want to see more.” said Johnson. “With the Batman, I believe Ben Affleck will play a great Bruce Wayne; I am curious to see how he does Batman. Henry Cavill, once again, doing Superman, [because] we are here in the location where they shot the Smallville scenes of ‘Man of Steel’. Let’s hope he brings the same energy to the new film, as well.” “I’m excited [to see Batman v. Superman] to see Wonder Woman,” said Funk. “I’m so excited for Wonder Woman. I think it’s [going to] do well; it seems like it has a different feel to the Marvel movies, which is important, because DC needs to do their own thing. I think…I’m hoping it’s going to be epic,” said Kelly Guentner. “I think it’s going to define the DC…Universe. It’s going to help define the cinematic universe, and how everything [ties] together. When they first started off making the movie, it was supposed to be a sequel. Then, they realized [that] Henry deserves his own stand-alone sequel, and it’s going to be a Justice League prequel. ‘Man of Steel’, after the events of that movie, we all know that he’s brand-new to being a superhero, he’s very confused, and, most importantly, he’s not really sure what to do…he’s just learning. Batman is very seasoned, and he’s been there a long time, and I think, towards the end of this movie, he’s [going to] realize that they both can help each other. So, I can’t wait to see that part of the movie, when they realize that they can actually do good together, instead of apart. That’s going to be my favorite thing to see,” said Soffer. “Wow…it’s almost like a new chapter for the new generation…I’m looking forward to it,” said Egan.
“I want to see, [because] this is supposed to be the lead-in to the Justice League, so I want to see some of the other characters; I want to see Wonder Woman, I want to see Aquaman, Flash…I think it would be good, but I don’t want them to go towards too dark and gritty, [because], then, it kind of screws up the field for Justice League,” said Thomas Guentner. “I definitely want to see Clark and Lois at the Daily Planet; I’ve seen a few promo shots, and I’m hoping we get a few scenes where he’s just…Clark Kent. I want to see Wonder Woman kicking butt; I want her to have a big role,” said Kelly Guentner. “[I would like to have] Birds Of Prey show up…[including] Black Canary. I’m also hoping [to] see a lot more of Lois and Clark, like Clark Kent. I’m hoping I get to see them, [because] I really like Lois. I’d just like to see them back and forth with each other, [with dialogue], because they are kind of funny sometimes. It makes for a lot of comedy…that’s for sure. I think we need a little humor…just a little bit,” said Funk. “I would like to see Wonder Woman and Lois have like a face-to-face, and just kind of see how that would kind of go. I really hope [Laura Funk does get that ‘Birds of Prey’ cameo], because I would want to see how DC would make them look on film. You know you’ve always got to go bigger and better on film with their outfits,” said Krall.
“I think when they make a single movie, like Iron Man…it gives them a chance to sit on their own feet. They want to put [them] in a group movie, because they did so good on their singles…it makes it even better,” said Krall. “It’s fun,” said Funk. “The ones that they’ve put together have been really good. I grew up with the X-Men cartoon, and the group of them together was what drew my attention. It wasn’t always just focused on one character, and what they would do. It’s just the interaction of them, and how they would play together,” said Thomas Guentner. “I think it’s great. I think it’s a genre that has a lot of stories to be told, because they can do, like with Black Widow, they could do a spy story, with Superman, that’s [an] alien dealing with coming to Earth, with Wonder Woman, they have the Greek mythology. So, I think there’s room for a lot of stories to be told,” said Kelly Guentner.
“We would like to see [Henry Cavill and Amy Adams] here. [We would like to see] any Superman-related actor or actress, or any superhero-[related actor or actress] would be neat,” said Mayor Hausler, “The one thing that we have talked about is to get to a point where we’re having actual actors and actresses from various superhero movies here for autographs…[we have] discussed that…that’s something we’re definitely looking into as a Committee…it’s all a matter of the fundraising, to get the resources to do something like that.” “I’d love to add more characters to [the festival]…any [celebrities would be welcome],” said Diaz.
“Our Committee has different ideas…and what’s nice about getting new people to volunteer…they come up with new ideas. We may have new ideas this year that we didn’t last year,” said Mayor Hausler. “We’re thinking of some type of a carnival, maybe, next year. It may be with the festival, or it may be just something to earn money, too, for the festival,” said Mayor Hausler, “We have to find the area for it…that’s the main challenge. To have the festival, it would take up pretty much our whole downtown…so we would have to use one of [our] parking lots…[there are] issues of taking away the parking [of] the people that want to attend the festival. It would be good to have it superhero-related…the rides, and all that.” “I’d like to see some more of the Superfriends come here. [I’d like to see more] artists, writers, actors…I think they’d have a good time here…I really do,” said Krall. “I’d definitely also like to see more…an ‘Artist Alley’…more stuff like that. I…like the official Superboy and Lana Lang,” said Funk, “Henry Cavill. [I’d like to see] more of my friends [here].” “We’ve done a few other convention-type things, and one of the parts about it I always like is to meet the writers or the artists, hear their point of view, sometimes [there are] panels where you can ask them questions. [There are] also…’Artist Alley’, in a few places, where they showcase local people, or people who are trying to get into the business,” said Thomas Guentner, who thinks he will most be remembered, “Probably as part of the Avengers.” “Definitely an ‘Artist Alley’ would be great…or just a general marketplace for geeky [crafts], and other…[comics]…and, of course, any celebrities they can bring in…comic writers, artists, actors, actresses,” said Kelly Guentner, “[I would like to see] still more hanging out with friends, and maybe if they could get [some] comic writers or artists here, that would be really awesome.” “[It would] be good to see some more comic book-related guests…maybe some artists or maybe some writers,” said Soffer. “I was talking with…Diane Sherry, the original Lana Lang from the…movie, in Metropolis. I made a replica costume of her cheerleading outfit. Diane had said, when we were talking to her…she said, ‘Remind them that I definitely am still interested in coming here.’ Aaron Smolinski is also interested in coming. It would be really great to see those two come,” said Egan.
Mayor Hausler’s favorite attractions at the festival are “…The Super-Zipline…the bands that play…the Kids’ Bounce Houses, and the general atmosphere of making [the festival] a family-[oriented] event.”
“We’re just [going to] grow and we’re just [going to] become more united and more community-[oriented],” said Diaz.
Soffer reflects on what he thinks he will most be remembered, at this year’s Smallville SuperFest, “I want to make sure people would know that I [want to] be here every year, and that the kids are always going to have someone super to take a picture with. I don’t want this fest to not have someone for kids to take a picture with. There will always be a Superman here for them to say ‘hi’ to.” “Probably for being Lana Lang, or being Superman’s girl,” said Egan.
“I just hope everyone has a great weekend,” said Kelly Guentner. “Have fun…I’m looking forward to exploring it a little bit more,” said Thomas Guentner. “Live Long and Prosper,” said Funk. “Go out [to Smallville SuperFest], have fun,” said Krall. “We have an established festival now, and I would just like to see us adding…and make it better as years go by,” said Mayor Hausler, “Our volunteers do a great job, and, if anybody would like to volunteer, no matter if they live in Plano, or Smallville…or wherever they’re from, they’re welcome to volunteer and be part of the excitement of the festival.” “The music that they have here…is so incredible. They always have really great bands. The bands always do great,” said Egan. “That live music sets them apart…not many festivals have that much live music,” said Soffer, “Maybe we can help them come up with some giant line of tents…because people love the parade…so much. Every year, we’re improving, every year, we’re getting better.” “Come on out next year…we’re going to do it again…2016…the middle of August,” said Gardner.