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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, September 2006 Issue



Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
http://tsalerts.freespaces.com
travelalerts@wowmail.com
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2006 
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In This Issue:

  • Island Outpost's Summer Rates Thru Dec. 14
  • Grand Opening Rosen Shingle Creek
  • Free Guided Nature Hikes
  • Grand Cayman Marriott “Sand Dollar” Savings
  • Bed Bug Blues
  • Crystal Value Collection Up to 52% Off
  • Barcelo Fall Savings
  • US Airways Cuts Shuttle Fare 54%
  • Club ABC Stockholm Getaway
  • Continental’s Scandinavia Fare Sale
  • Winter Discounts at Grand Canyon
  • Easycruise Caribbean from $17 per Night
  • Greyhound Guarantees $25 Fare
  • TSA Prohibited Carry-Ons
  • Airfare Credit at the Alexandra
  • Divi Fall into the Caribbean Sale
  • Syncopation Vacations by Kay Douglas
  • Treat Your Wallet and Palate

  • Island Outpost's Summer Rates Thru Dec. 14

    Island Outpost's summer rates are valid through Dec. 14, 2006, perfect for crowd-weary travelers. All packages are based on double occupancy and availability. Blackout dates may apply.

    Goldeneye, at Oracabessa, Jamaica - This 15-acre seaside hideaway was home to author Ian Fleming where he wrote his most of his 13 James Bond novels. Four villas on the sea, one overlooking a cove, attract celebrities and other lovers of natural beauty. Summer rates start at $750 per night for two people and include breakfast, lunch, dinner, juice, house wines and spirits, local tax and service charge.

    Jake's, Treasure Beach, is a 29-room resort located in the authentic fishing village of Treasure Beach, Jamaica, with its own private beach and saltwater pool. Summer rates start at $115 per person, per night, and include a fr.ee trip to the Pelican Bar.

    Strawberry Hill, is Jamaica's 50-acre mountain retreat with views of the Blue Mountains and the Caribbean Sea. Summer rates start at $295 per person, per night, and include all meals, beverages, taxes, service charge, stress relieving treatment and Elemental Nature consultation.

    The Caves, in Negril, Jamaica, the volcanic cliff is honeycombed with grottoes: one strewn with flowers and illuminated by candlelight for dining, another with a bubbling hot tub, some are portals into the sea below. Ten cottages, each unique, blend into this landscape. Summer rates start at $515 per night for two people.

    Pink Sands, on Harbour Island in the Bahamas, features 25 oceanfront cottages with private patios and are all about privacy. The summer rates starts at $600 per night for two people and include breakfast and dinner daily. 18% service charge is additional.

    Island Outpost or 800/OUTPOST.


    Grand Opening Rosen Shingle Creek

    As a grand opening special, Rosen Shingle Creek, in Orlando, FL, offers an "Our Home is Your Home" offer for $99.39 per night, based double occupancy and availability. The offer is valid from its grand opening on Sep. 9, 2006 through Oct. 1, 2006.

    In addition to the $99.39 room rate, you can mix and match any two of the following "Creek Combo" options for an additional $99.39.

    One Round of golf (cart and range balls included), one dinner at the resort's restaurant, one 30-minute massage or 30-minute facial, one-hour joint Brad Brewer Swing Lessons, or two, one-day adult admissions to Universal Orlando.

    The 1,500-room resort, at 9939 Universal Blvd., off the International Drive tourist district is 10 minutes from Orlando International Airport.

    The 230-acre resort includes 139 suites, nine-treatment rooms at its spa, a fitness center, a golf course, four outdoor swimming pools, two lighted tennis courts, basketball and volleyball. Situated on Shingle Creek, the headwaters to the Florida Everglades, Rosen Shingle Creek will feature seasonal canoe trips, nature trails, fishing and other eco-tourism activities.

    Rosen Shingle Creek or 866/996-6338.


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    Fr.ee Guided Nature Hikes

    Looking for something to do during your visit to San Diego this November? Well throughout the month, the San Diego Natural History Museum Canyoneers lead five guided hikes. Walks are fr.ee and open to the public. No reservations are required. Canyoneers are San Diego Natural History Museum volunteers trained to lead hikes and teach appreciation of plants and animals in southern California.

    The following walks are scheduled: Rose Canyon Open Space Park, Sat., Nov. 4, 2006; 1 to 2:30 p.m. Watch for hawks and owls in Rose Creek, a 275-acre oasis around the old Santa Fe Railroad roadbed. Volunteer planted native garden lies near the trailhead.

    Cowles Mountain (East) Sun., Nov. 5, 2006; 9 a.m. to noon. The eastern approach to the top of Cowles Mountain (elevation gain 1000 feet) provides a different view from the usual western approach.

    Tecolote Canyon Natural Park (West) Sat., Nov. 11, 2006; 1 to 2:30 p.m. Observe seasonal changes of natural vegetation. Visit the Nature Center for informative exhibits about the canyon.

    Coyote Canyon Sun., Nov. 12, 2006; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit a variety of desert habitats where a year-round stream is a mecca for wildlife. High-clearance vehicles are needed for the off-road portion of this trip. For those reluctant to drive off-road, shared rides will be arranged to caravan from the meeting place.

    Lake Hodges (East Arm) Sat., Nov. 18, 2006; 1 to 2:30 p.m. Hike through a variety of terrains, past a waterfall, and learn about Native American uses for plants.

    San Diego Natural History Museum or 619/255-0203.


    Grand Cayman Marriott “Sand Dollar” Savings

    The Grand Cayman Marriot Beach lets you bask in luxury at an affordable price with "Sand Dollar" savings. Prices start from $235 per night, based on availability, through Oct. 22, 2006. Sand Dollar” savings include a fifth night fr.ee and $75 food and beverage credit, with a four night consecutive stay. Black-out dates apply and taxes and gratuities are not included

    Along world famous Seven Mile Beach, the 305-room resort underwent a $15 million redesign so all rooms offer high-speed wireless Internet, 300-thread count linens, triple sheeting, private balcony and marble bathrooms.

    Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort or 800/399-7641.


    Bed Bug Blues

    The bed bug (cimex lectularius) is a wingless, flat, reddish-brown insect about 1/4-inch long. It feeds on the blood of humans. As the name implies, the bug usually makes its home in the bed and surrounding areas, like the cracks and crevices in the bed frame, wooden furniture, floors and walls.

    Bed bugs feed at night while their host is asleep. They pierce your skin with their sharp beak and inject a fluid to prevent the blood from coagulating. An adult bed bug feeds for about 10 to 15 minutes, swelling as its body fills with blood. Then the insect crawls away to a hiding place to digest its meal.

    To keep this cycle going, an adult female can lay up to 12 eggs a day. The eggs hatch in six to 17 days. Babies, or nymphs, feed as soon as they hatch. Depending upon temperature and available food, a nymph can take 21 days to 120 days to mature into an adult. The average bed bug lives for 12 to 18 months. Bed bugs are hardy and can survive up to a year without eating.

    Bed bugs were problems (before World War II) until the widespread use of insecticides. With adequate control measures and improved personal and household cleanliness, the bed bug problem mostly disappeared from the U.S.

    But over the last decade, bed bugs seem to be an increasing problem. With concerns over environmental safety, many people stopped using insecticides. In addition, bed bugs hitchhike home on the luggage, clothing and furniture of travelers. Hotels (even some exclusive ones), prisons and dormitories are reporting more cases of bed bug infestation. And some people are bringing the uninvited guests into their own homes.

    Blood-sucking bed bugs carry a number of disease-causing organisms (like those that cause the plague, tularemia and hepatitis B). However, no one has ever reported any cases verifying transmission of disease to humans. The problem with bed bugs is that some people develop an allergic reaction to the fluid injected by the bug to keep blood flowing while feeding. The red, itchy hives can cause a great deal of discomfort. Scratching can cause the areas to become infected. In some cases, it can be difficult to trace the cause of the problem to bed bugs.

    When you travel, look for signs of bed bugs. Pull back the sheets on the bed and look for bugs or tiny dark blood spots. You may find egg cases and tiny shed skins. For a thorough investigation, look inside cracks and crevices near the bed or in the bed frame and check the mattress, especially under the raised edges of the seams. Bed bugs can also hide behind or inside a picture frame, under lamps or loose wall paper, in sofas, upholstered chairs and recliners, and around window frames, door casings or moldings.

    As a precaution against bed bugs coming home in your luggage or clothing, bug expert Jason Rasgon, Ph.D. of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, recommends placing all of your clothing in the dryer for 30 minutes when you return home. The heat of the dryer will kill the bugs and reduce the risk of infestation at home.

    If you unsuspectedly brought the critters home, vacuum your mattress, box springs and nearby areas thoroughly. Remove the bag from the vacuum cleaner, place it in a sealed bag and take it out of the house. Launder bedding in hot water and steam clean mattresses, box springs, drapes and carpets. Bedding and upholstery can also be dry-cleaned. Seal the mattress and box springs in a plastic cover. Fill in wall cracks and cover crevices around windows and doors. Bed bugs can't fly. To keep the insects from crawling up the legs of the bed, some experts recommend placing the feet of the bed inside glass jars or metal cans. The legs may also be coated with petroleum jelly or double-sided sticky tape.

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    Crystal Value Collection Up to 52% Off

    Crystal Cruises offers its 2007 Value Collection where you can save up to 52 percent off regular cruise fares aboard the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity.

    The collection features six 10 to 17 day sailings through the Panama Canal, Western Europe, Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean and a Pacific voyage from Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

    There is still time to save more than 50 percent on the 11-day Athens to Monte Carlo Mediterranean voyage on Oct. 24, 2006. At $2,2995 plus port and security charges of $310, plus a $4 per person, per day, fuel surcharge, a Category C cabin represents more than 50 percent off brochure fare. Airfare is not included and no air credit is available.

    Crystal also offers two-for-one savings on three Caribbean voyages: a 10-day sailing on Dec. 5, 2006 for $2,680 per person, a seven-day cruise on Dec. 15, 2006 for $1,965 per person and a seven-day cruise Jan. 5, 2007 for $2,145 per person. Fares are based on double occupancy and do not include port, security and handling charges of up to $210 plus a $4 per day, per person, fuel surcharge. The two-for-one savings apply to category C only and represents 50 percent off brochure fare. Airfare is not included and no air credit is available.

    Crystal Cruises or 888/799-4625.


    Barcelo Fall Savings

    The Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort, in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, offers fall savings at a selection of its hotels.

    You can choose from the premium level Barcelo Bavaro Palace Hotel, the family friendly Barcelo Bavaro Beach & Caribe Hotel, or the Barcelo Bavaro Golf & Casino Hotel. The beachfront Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort features three miles of beach so the majority of guest rooms offer beachfront views. Services and amenities include 15 restaurants, an onsite casino, an 18-hole professional golf course and Las Vegas style entertainment nightly.

    Through Oct. 31, 2006, you can enjoy resort amenities and savings. Five-night, all-inclusive packages include accommodations, meals, house cocktails, entertainment and beach activities. Packages start from $269 per person at the Barcelo Bavaro Golf & Casino Hotel, $339 per person at the Barcelo Bavaro Beach & Caribe Hotel and $539 per person at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace Hotel which includes f.ree greens fees for two daily. When you stay at any of the other hotels within the Resort, you receive a 50 percent reduction on all golf greens fees.

    Barcelo Bavaro Beach Resort.


    US Airways Cuts Shuttle Fare 54%

    US Airways cut its 14-day advanced purchase roundtrip fare by 54 percent to $100 on its hourly Shuttle route. The Shuttle offers 16 daily roundtrip flights between New York City's LaGuardia International Airport and Boston Logan International Airport.

    This is an everyday fare and not just a sale or promotion.

    A one-night minimum stay is required. Tickets are non-refundable and permissible changes add a $100 change fee and any applicable fare difference. The $100 fare listed above is valid for purchase online at the airline’s web site and does not include federal excise taxes, passenger facility charges and the security fee. Tickets purchased through US Airways telephone reservations are $5 higher. Tickets purchased at US Airways airports or city ticket offices are $10 higher.

    US Airways or 800/428-4322.


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    Club ABC Stockholm Getaway

    Club ABC Tours, a private travel club, offers a Stockholm visit at a savings. The five-day "Stockholm Getaway" package starts at $499 per person, based on double occupancy. Departures begin October 2006 and the package includes roundtrip airfare on scheduled flights from Newark, hotel accommodations for three nights with breakfast daily, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel taxes and service charges.

    With the package, you stay at the Clarion Hotel, the largest hotel in Stockholm, in the trendy Sodermalm area. The hotel sits in the heart of the city, surrounded by several galleries, clubs, bars and restaurants.

    You can take the tour during the holiday season where daily celebrations begin at the end of November and go through Christmas Day. Stockholm offers festivals, Christmas markets with Swedish arts and crafts, and local culinary specialties such as sweets, smoked sausages, and mulled wine.

    Club ABC Tours offers a "Helsinki Pre-Tour" cruise. For an additional $250 per person, you get a two-night roundtrip cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki and one night at the SOKOS Helsinki Hotel. The price includes breakfast and a city sightseeing tour.

    Club ABC Tours is a members-only travel club since 1966. Most packages include airfare and feature first class or deluxe accommodations (4- and 5-Star). Members book directly with Club ABC by phone, online or by mail. Membership is $30 per year, $45 for two years, or $60 for three years. Each membership covers up to two adults per household and their dependent children.

    Club ABC Tours or 888/868-7722.



    Continental’s Scandinavia Fare Sale

    The fjords of Norway, the culture of Sweden or the forests and beaches of Denmark are some of what Scandinavia offers. Continental Airlines offers a Scandinavia fare sale with roundtrip fares from $299.

    You must book roundtrip tickets by Dec. 2, 2006 for outbound travel through Dec. 9, 2006 and travel completed by Dec. 14, 2006. Your ticket purchase must be at least seven days in advance of your departure and include a Saturday night stay. All travel must be complete within one month from your departure.

    Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Changes incur a $200 change fee, if meeting all restrictions plus applicable fare difference. All changes must be made prior to departure or the ticket has no value. Fares do not include taxes and security fees. Continental charges $50 for issuing paper tickets.

    Sample one-way fares are: Newark to Copenhagen, Denmark, Oslo, Norway or Stockholm, Sweden $249; Houston to Copenhagen, Denmark, Oslo, Norway or Stockholm, Sweden $299; Los Angeles to Copenhagen, Denmark, Oslo, Norway or Stockholm, Sweden $374.

    OnePass frequent flyer members who fly between Newark and Oslo, Norway, Sep. 1 to Oct. 31, 2006, earn 2,000 bonus miles.

    Continental Airlines or 800/231-0856.



    Winter Discounts at Grand Canyon

    Xanterra South Rim L.L.C, operator of lodges, restaurants and activities in Grand Canyon National Park, offers winter rates and packages at the South Rim for the 2006-07 winter season. Room rates during the winter season are up to 28 percent lower than summer-season rates.

    The winter value rate, at $76 per night plus tax, includes a room at Maswik South or Yavapai West Lodge. For $89 per night plus tax, you can stay at Maswik North or Yavapai East Lodge. Summer rates at these hotels range from $76 to $124. The rates are good for single or double occupancy. The cost for each additional person in the room is $9. Children 16 and under stay at no extra charge. Lodge and room type are subject to availability and seasonal closures.

    The El Tovar romance package, at the elegant national historic landmark, includes one night in a standard queen room, a bottle of sparkling wine and fruit basket and dinner for two with a bottle of El Tovar wine. The base package costs $274 plus tax, subject to availability. You may upgrade to a deluxe room or suite, based upon availability, for an additional charge. Mention promotional code “ROMA” when making reservations.

    The winter value rate is available Nov. 26, 2006 through March 8, 2007, excluding Dec. 21, 2006 through Jan. 1, 2007 and Feb. 16 through Feb. 18, 2007. The romance package is available Nov. 26, 2006 through Feb. 1, 2007, excluding Dec. 21, 2006 through Jan. 1, 2007.

    Xanterra South Rim or 888/297-2757.


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    Easycruise Caribbean from $17 per Night

    easyCruise’s itinerary for its second fall/winter Caribbean season makes it easy to be flexible. With newly refurbished cabins starting at $17 per night, easyCruiseOne returns to the Caribbean Dec. 8, 2006 with new ports of call. The ship sails the Caribbean itinerary Dec. 8, 2006 to Apr. 12, 2007. Reservations can be booked online. The ship departs Philipsburg, St. Maarten each Friday and calls at St. Barths (Saturday) and Anguilla (Sunday). It returns to St. Maarten on Monday, and then visits St. Kitts (Tuesday), Antigua (Wednesday), and Nevis (Thursday). You can begin a cruise from St. Maarten on Friday or Monday, or in Antigua on Wednesday, with international airports on both islands. Prices start at $17 per person, per night, based on double occupancy. Food and port charges are not included in the cruise price.

      Sample cruise prices, per person, based on two people sharing an outside cabin are:
    • A three night, Friday to Monday cruise starts at $187. Use promotional code smac31
    • A four night Monday to Friday cruise starts at $168. Use promotional code smac41
    • A seven night cruise (from Friday, Monday or Wednesday) from $338. Use promotional code smac71.

    Sailing each morning, easyCruise arrives in a new port by late morning so you can enjoy the day and nightlife. You can join the cruise where and when you want, subject to a two-night minimum and a 14-night maximum stay.

    easyCruise.



    Greyhound Guarantees $25 Fare

    If you are tired of limited availability for low fares, consider Greyhound. The company is expanding its web-only eSaver fares by offering a guaranteed, unlimited $25 eSaver fare between Chicago and Detroit or Minneapolis/St. Paul.

    Tickets must be purchased at their web site and there is no limit to the number of seats available under the special fare. Fares are one-way, and no advanced purchase is required as you can purchase tickets up until two hours before a trip. Travel is good for any day of the week at any time.

    Greyhound’s Elevate initiative tries to improve the travel experience with waiting areas in clean, modernized terminals with ample seating, plasma screen televisions and customer service personnel on hand to answer questions. Food service and other retail amenities are also available in each location. Refurbished buses feature reclining seats, air conditioning and an on-board restroom.

    Greyhound or 800/231-2222.



    TSA Prohibited Carry-Ons

    The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) implemented added security measures, following the foiled bomb plot in London, that initially included prohibiting all liquids and gels in carry-on baggage. These items must be in checked baggage.

    The only exceptions are baby formula, breast milk, or juice if a baby or small child is traveling; prescription medicine with a name that matches the passenger’s ticket; and insulin and essential other non-prescription medicines. Baby formula and medicines will be inspected at the checkpoint.

    Several days later, the TSA amended the initial prohibition and at press time these prohibitions remain. Now small doses (up to 4 oz.) of non- prescription liquid medications are allowed through the security checkpoint and onboard airplanes, as are low blood sugar treatments including glucose gel for diabetics, solid cosmetics such as lipstick and lip balm and baby food.

    Laptop computers, MP3 players, cell phones and similar electronic devices are again allowed in carry-on, but must be made available for X-ray.

    Items that must be placed in check luggage include all beverages, shampoo, sun tan lotion, creams, tooth paste, hair gel, and other items of similar consistency. Aerosols were added to the prohibited list.

    Beverages purchased in the boarding area, beyond the checkpoint, must be consumed before boarding. They will not be permitted onboard the aircraft.

    TSA also requires all passengers must remove their shoes so they may be x- rayed with their carry-on bags.

    Our heightened sense of security means we will see an increase in visibility and use of canine detection teams. Random gate inspections and bag searches will continue.

    To date, the threat level remains at Severe, or Red, for commercial flights originating in the United Kingdom bound for the United States. All other flights operating in or destined for the U.S. remain at High, or Orange.

    TSA and the Department of Homeland Security will continue to evaluate security measures and will adjust as necessary to assure our aviation system remains secure.

    To speed-up the security screening, the TSA offers several suggestions: pack lightly, without clutter to facilitate easier screening; arrive earlier than usual at the airport; cooperate with TSA personnel at checkpoints and with airline personnel at all gates; be attentive and vigilant to any suspicious activity and report it to authorities.

    In response to new airport security rules, Wyndham Hotels and Resorts will provide guests with fr.ee replacements for their toothpaste, contact lens solution, drinking water and other sundries. Part of their “We Remember What You Forgot” program, Wyndham guests will be offered bottled water, contact lens solution, hair spray, hair gel and any of the 17 other personal care products available.

    Crest hopes to brighten the day for airline passengers. While supplies last, Crest offers more than 25,000 fr.ee Crest Smile Packs worth more than $10 retail. Available at Avis locations in 25 of the top U.S. airports, packs include full-size toothpaste, rinse and dental floss. The packs will be placed on the seats of all Avis Preferred renters' cars.

    Proctor & Gamble

    Transportation Security Administration.



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    Divi Fall into the Caribbean Sale

    This fall, you can save 40 percent off nightly room rates at Divi Resorts throughout the Caribbean with their Fall Into the Caribbean Sale. Rates start from $77 per night at participating Divi Resorts, while rooms last.

      The Fall Into the Caribbean Sale nightly room rates are:
    • Divi Dutch Village Beach Resort , Aruba from $77.11
    • Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort, Aruba from $147.80
    • Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort, Aruba from $147.80
    • Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino, Bonaire from $87.02
    • Divi Southwinds Beach Resort, Barbados from $121.26
    • Divi Heritage Beach Resort, Barbados from $97.29
    • Divi Tiara Beach Resort, Cayman Brac from $77.04
    • Divi Little Bay Beach Resort, St. Maarten from $119.52

    You can book and travel at Fall Into Caribbean Sale rates through Dec. 22, 2006 at the Divi Dutch Village Beach Resort, Divi Village Golf and Beach Resort, Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino, Divi Heritage Beach Resort, Divi Tiara Beach Resort, Divi Southwinds Beach Resort and Divi Little Bay Beach Resort.

    At Divi Aruba Phoenix Beach Resort you can book through Dec. 22, 2006, and travel Nov. 18 to Dec. 22, 2006.

    Rates are per room, per night based on single or double occupancy. Tax and service charge are included, and a three-night minimum stay is required. Children up to 15 years old may stay fr.ee in the room with one paying adult (up to two kids) except at Divi Heritage Beach Resort in Barbados which allows only adults over the age of sixteen. Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino in St. Croix is not included in the Fall Into the Caribbean Sale.

    Divi Resorts or 800/367-3484.


    Syncopation Vacations: Ragtime Festivals - - article and photos by Kay Douglas

    Ever since the soundtrack from the film The Sting captivated audiences in 1973, ragtime music has grown from a cult following into a full-blown cultural phenomenon. Ragtime festivals serve as meeting grounds for traditional jazz lovers and musicians from all over North America and, increasingly, from around the world. With ragtime’s roots originally in the Midwest, it’s fitting that many of the top ragtime festivals are held in states such as Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin, but the West Coast is also a hotbed of ragtime activity and home to several of the most prestigious ragtime festivals as well.

    Ragtime music enjoyed a relatively brief period of robust development in the late 1890s up to the1920s, when it was eclipsed by novelty piano pieces written for the newly invented player pianos, virtuoso “stride” piano styles, early jazz forms, and boogie-woogie. The Maple Leaf Rag gave way to compositions by Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, and other musical greats, but there was a continuity of lively syncopated rhythms running throughout these ever- evolving musical forms. It’s fitting, then, that many ragtime festivals encompass a diversity of styles and musical influences, ranging from the earliest forms of ragtime, such as marches and cakewalks, up to contemporary ragtime music, which often demonstrates the influence of Latin music.

    My first ragtime festival experience, oddly enough, was in Kecskemet, Hungary, at the Bohem Ragtime and Jazz Festival, where I heard ragtime and traditional jazz played by an international line-up of musicians from Hungary, Serbia, Norway, Denmark, Germany, and other European countries. Since ragtime music has such worldwide appeal, there are festivals and performances held throughout Europe, Australia, and even Japan. The Bohem Festival sparked my interest in attending more festivals, and so this past June I headed for Missouri, the “Cradle of Ragtime,” home to Scott Joplin, James Scott, Joseph Lamb, and other seminal ragtime composers. One of the best-known and most prestigious ragtime festivals, The Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival, is held each June in Sedalia, a town rich in ragtime connections.

    The Scott Joplin festival offers an almost daunting line-up of talent in multiple venues in downtown Sedalia. This year’s festival ran for five days, May 31 through June 4th, with most of the entertainers performing at multiple concerts. Admission is fr.ee for many of the daytime concerts held outdoors under tent pavilions, though there are indoor concerts, symposia, master classes, dinners, and other events which require tickets for admission. An eight-event package ticket for Sedalia cost $200, with single event ticket prices ranging from $18 to $30.

    One of the most pleasant aspects of the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival, and indeed of every ragtime festival, is the easy camaraderie among the performers, audience members, and festival volunteers. It’s practically impossible to go to a ragtime festival and not make at least a few new friends. Many of the people attending ragtime festivals stay in the same hotels as the performers, and in the case of the Sedalia festival, the Best Western is the nexus of activity. It is also where after-hours evening gatherings known as “afterglows” are held. These informal sessions run until the wee hours as musicians drop in to socialize, entertaining each other and whoever else is on hand with rousing impromptu performances. Though attending the afterglows requires a bit of stamina, it provides an experience that’s not to be missed.

    Along with fine performances of ragtime and traditional jazz, the Scott Joplin Festival offered fr.ee dance instruction and tea dances at the “Cake Walk Hall.” Curious about exactly what a “tea dance” was, I soon found myself out on the dance floor in the firm grip of “Tuxedo Tim,” a dapper gentleman instructor sporting tails and spats. Later in the day, I took in a turn-of-the century vintage fashion contest, admiring the beautifully detailed (and very authentic) clothing of the participants. The fashion show morphed into a parade through Sedalia’s historic district, as many of the musicians, organizers, and dignitaries such as congressmen and state senators rode down Ohio St. in vintage autos. The local Red Hat Society ladies created something of a sensation with a bubble machine, along with spontaneous dancing in the streets to the strains of music by the New Red Onion Jazz Babies playing from the back of an antique flatbed truck.

    There were so many events and concerts going on simultaneously in Sedalia that it was difficult to choose which performer to see when. My festival program was soon a mass of check marks, notations, and dog-eared pages as I scurried from one venue to another. Some of the most memorable performances were by up-and-coming musicians such as Adam Yarian, this year’s winner of the World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest. I was also delighted to see the Bohem Ragtime Trio, whom I’d heard in Hungary, and who were obviously enjoying great popularity with an American audience.

    The very day the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival ended, the John William “Blind” Boone Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival started in Columbia, MO, just a couple hours down the road from Sedalia. Blind Boone (1864-1927) was a ragtime pianist and composer who lived in Columbia for most of his life. He toured throughout the Midwest with a band of musicians, and his musical talent was legendary. Wherever he went, Boone would challenge local musicians to play a piece of music, and, regardless of its complexity, he would immediately replay it back, mistakes and all.

    I was instantly smitten by the college-town ambience of Columbia, which exuded a sleepy summer-term charm but at the same time had a surprising sophistication. Taking a break from non-stop ragtime, I toured the handsome campus of the University of Missouri, bought a bakelite necklace at the “Ice Chalet” antique mall, on the outskirts of town, and enjoyed several lattes in the blissfully low-key Lakota Coffee Company.

    Although the Blind Boone festival is smaller than Sedalia’s, it offers an incomparable setting at the historic Missouri Theater in downtown Columbia. The theater is being restored to its original splendor, including an 1800-pound chandelier, a magnificent pipe organ, and rococo decor featuring goddesses, cherubs, and hermaphrodites. Columbia’s festival is an intimate gathering, with out-of-town participants all staying at the Regency Hotel, which offered a special festival rate of $60. The all-event ticket for this festival was a bargain, too, at $80 for the three days’ evening concerts and all daytime events.

    Headliners for the Blind Boone Festival included the Butch Thompson Trio (of Prairie Home Companion fame), world-renowned pianist Morten Gunnar Larsen, The New Orleans Jazz Serenaders, and several well-known stride pianists, including John Gill from Perth, Australia, Paul Asaro, Dalton Ridenhour, and Terry Waldo. In fact, the first evening’s concert was devoted to stride piano, a rollicking concert of hard-driving rhythms. But for me the most memorable performance was on the second night, when Larsen performed an extended version of the Kurt Weill/Maurice Magre classic cabaret song, “Je ne t’aime pas.” This emotionally charged piece was taken to its utmost heights and depths by Larsen, who has been called "one of the top three piano artists in the world" by The New York Times.

    The following night, Larsen paired up with his friend Vernel Bagneris to perform segments from their two-man off-Broadway hit, Jelly Roll! If I’d come expecting only old-school ragtime á la The Entertainer at this festival, I’d have been astonished by the range of styles, but as a “veteran” with two festivals under my belt, I knew I could expect the unexpected.

    I’m now a confirmed ragtime festival addict, busy making plans to go to the West Coast Ragtime Festival in Sacramento this upcoming November. The Sacramento festival is one of the largest and most highly regarded, and like the Sedalia and Columbia festivals, it offers a very affordable ticket and hotel package with an all-event pass running $80 and double occupancy at the host hotel, the Red Lion Sacramento, at $78 per night.

    And there are other fine ragtime events on the horizon, such as the Eau Claire Ragtime Festival held in the chilly depths of January in Wisconsin (brrrr!), the Sutter Creek Festival, held an historic California gold-mining town, and the Alexandria Bay Ragtime/Jasstime Festival held up near the Canadian border in New York state on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Plus, there are any number of small one-day festivals and concerts held here and there, not to mention that many traditional jazz festivals feature ragtime music. The best sources of information for upcoming festivals and events are listed below so that if you wish, you too can enjoy a syncopation vacation.

    The Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival

    The John William “Blind” Boone Ragtime & Early Jazz Festival

    The West Coast Ragtime Festival

    The Bohem Ragtime Festival in Hungary

    Sutter Creek Ragtime Festival

    Eau Claire Ragtime Festival

    World Championship Old-Time Piano Playing Contest

    Alexandria Bay NY Chamber of Commerce

    Mississippi Rag festival listings(the best source of information for upcoming ragtime and traditional jazz festivals)

    “Perfessor’ Bill Edwards’ Ragtime Links

    The American Rag Newspaper

    Elite Syncopations Internet Radio Station.



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