You know you’re residing in the 21st century when a friend who lives 4,000 miles away gives you the heads up about a Star Wars event that’s just two hours away from home. The friend, unsurprisingly, was Matt Booker of Fantha Tracks and the event in question was “Star Wars Experience” hosted by Dan Zehr of Coffee With Kenobi.
Held at the Peoria Riverfront Museum, the event included dinner and a screening of The Last Jedi. What normally serves as the main entrance lobby was transformed into a full on banquet hall, with each table sporting a thoughtfully assembled Star Wars-themed centerpiece with a different character (ours was headlined by Maz Kanata!) and adorned with spring-loaded lightsabers. The event was brought to life by the museum’s friendly staff who were clearly Star Wars fans themselves, as well as a multitude of crowd-pleasing cosplayers. A prominent display case even featured select items curated from Dan Zehr’s personal collection. Fantastic.
While the dinner and movie would have easily been worth the price of admission, the truly unique part of the evening was what took place in between: an interview with Peter Wentworth-Sheilds, assistant art director of Star Wars, and of course hosted by Dan Zehr. Having taken our seats in the museum’s Giant Screen Theater, Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds treated the audience to a series of fascinating stories about his personal life as well as his experiences from working on the very first Star Wars film, in particular his contributions to the iconic cockpit of the Millennium Falcon and Aunt Beru’s famous kitchen.
Unfortunately all good things must come to an end as the storytelling was required to give way to the evening’s film schedule, but not before plenty of well-deserved applause and memories to last a lifetime.