Columbian youth engage in Hobbit Day festivities


Emily Franke

In the midst of Tolkien Week, which is Sept. 21-27, one special day marks the birthday celebration of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s famed The Lord of the Rings trilogy honor the two beloved Hobbits by participating in Hobbit-themed celebrations and reminiscing the culture of Middle Earth, all in tribute of the ‘Long Awaited Party’ which opens The Fellowship of the Ring, according to
On Tuesday, in celebration of this special day, children ages eight and up participated in hobbit related activities. This program, hosted by children’s and youth services librarian Johnathan Shoff and children’s team member Dana Bocke, provided free, hobbit-themed fun.
“Dana and I saw 17 lovely people for our Hobbit Day program. After making name tags using Dwarvish runes, Dana showed her awesome presentation that included trivia, riddles, and a look at the latest movie trailer. Then kids made books using all sorts of decorations,” Shoff said. “Kids next proceeded to try and slay Smaug the dragon with a Nerf crossbow. Finally, everyone had to go find all 13 dwarves in the Children’s Department. Numerous kids learned where the holiday selection is located, as the clue for Balin the dwarf was that he looks like Santa Claus. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves, and we got many thanks and even a couple hugs.”
Each season the library asks children’s department staff to submit one or two program ideas, most of which are accepted, Shoff said. After the submission and acceptance of his program idea, Shoff and Bocke spent around four hours taking the event from the planning stage to setting everything up for it.

J.R.R Tolkien books
Photo by Madelyn Stewart
“I’m a huge fan of Tolkien’s work,” Shoff said. “And with The Hobbit being consistently checked out in the Children’s Department, even before the movie started up, I thought it might be fun to do a program.”
Additionally, RBHS seniors Alex Isgriggs and CJ Phillips plan to show the 1977 cartoon The Hobbit tonight at the Secret Film Society’s meeting. This not-so-secret showing of the rarely seen Middle Earth classic will provide students an opportunity to see the newly remastered cartoon, Isgriggs said.
“Most people haven’t seen the cartoon,” Isgriggs said. “And for a while it’s been kind of unavailable in a good condition because … the DVDs were out of print,”
After first viewing his dad’s VHS of The Hobbit (cartoon) as a young child, Isgriggs was already familiar with Tolkien’s story before he read The Hobbit in fifth grade. After reading it completely for the first time in eighth grade, he said, he felt like he knew the story better and could see where the cartoon really came from because of Tolkien’s descriptive writing.
“The cool thing about J.R.R. Tolkien the way that he writes. He’s very descriptive … because he’s trying to paint a picture, he’s trying to create this whole new world that no one’s ever heard of before, and he can do it in a way that’s not so inaccessible,” Isgriggs said. “Hes’ just a very detailed writer and really gives you a feeling about what things look like how things act.”
While Isgriggs considers himself a Hobbit fan, he is not a fan of the live action movie that came out earlier this year. Because he first saw the cartoon, then read the book, his impression of the story is more of a children’s storybook than of an action packed thriller. Igriggs enjoyed the Lord of the Rings films, but the first Hobbit movie didn’t resonate with him as well as the 1977 cartoon.
“I don’t know if it’s so amazing to anyone else but me but … the animation is so well done and so just magical and when I watch the movie, the cartoon, I get a real sense of adventure that reminds me of what it’s like to read the book,” Isgriggs said. “Although they take place in the same world…The Hobbit is more of an adventurous children’s fable whereas The Lord of the Rings is this big dark gritty fantasy epic. I felt like making The Hobbit live action movie kind of that gritty, action-packed [didn’t work] … with the story for me, just for me personally, but I can understand why other people really like it.”
In preparation for the upcoming release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on Dec.17, Bocke submitted a different Tolkien themed event for teens to participate in. Bocke’s program, Project Teen: Hobbits, will take place on Nov. 14 from 1-2:30 p.m., with registration opening Tuesday, Oct. 28. This event has a capped registration of 15 participants, she said, and she would love to have a full program.
“I want to focus more on the Dwarves for Project Teen,” Bocke said. “We’ll have pizza for lunch and work on a craft. I hope to do some leather working, the Dwarves have some great leather accessories! I’m not saying we’ll make armor, but something tough and practical, like the Dwarves themselves.”
After planning countless programs, Bocke said working with teens is her favorite and she will be planning and running Project Teen: Hobbits on her own.
“It’s nice to have people register ahead of time so we know how many supplies we’ll need or pizza to order,” Bocke said. “ For Project Teen, I’m looking forward to seeing what amazing stuff the teens create. For Hobbit Day, I can’t wait to share my love of all things Tolkien with like-minded people.”