Why would anybody want to go to Honesdale?

“Why would anybody want to go to Honesdale?” asked the immigration officer as we were crossing the Canadian/U.S. border. If you are an illustrator, you would have plenty of reasons. Not only is Honesdale, PA a very pretty town but it is also the home of the Highlight’s magazine offices. Every year, Highlights throw a weekend party for their illustrators, family and guests. I haven’t worked for the magazine yet but this year I was lucky to be invited as Paula’s guest.

Paula and I are are both members of Illustration for Kids and we were quite excited because for the first time, four out of the seven of us were going to hang out together for the weekend.(Myself, Paula Becker, Jannie Ho and Jenn Morris

It was a really fun road trip. Paula and I had plenty to chat about and there was lots of prettiness to photograph along the way

On the road to Honedale

How did he get there?….
Photo by Paula Becker

We arrived early Friday evening with just enough time to check into our room, freshen up a bit and take a quick wander down by the lake.

Sunset on the lake at Central House

Then it was off to the barbecue at Boyd’s Mill where we would get to meet everyone for the first time. At this point I could feel butterflies in my tummy and was worried that I would get all shy and tongue tied. I am so used to working at home alone, that suddenly meeting a whole bunch of illustrators at once felt a little intimidating but exciting too. All shyness was forgotten when we got to meet Jannie again, and Jenn for the first time. The chatting began and we felt like old friends. I also got to meet Karen Lee who I have known a long time on the internet and it was so nice to meet her in person. And also Jennifer Thermes and Julie Fortenberry were there, which was a lovely surprise. We all became good buddies and hung out together for the rest of the weekend.

The Illustration for Kids gals -from left to right: me, Paula, Jannie and Jenn

The next morning we had a bright and early start with breakfast, followed by a seminar for the illustrators. Members of Highlight’s staff formed a panel and talked about new publishing ventures and gave plenty of pointers and tips for all the different things they were looking for as to types of submission, artwork etc. It was very informative and entertaining.

Seminar with Highlight’s staff

Once the seminar was over, there was a portfolio sharing session. Illustrator’s laid out their portfolios on tables and everyone mingled and got to look at each others work. The standard of work was very high and I kept wavering from feeling inspired to feeling a little intimidated. I recognized quite a few artist’s work that I already admired and discovered a whole bunch of new inspiring ones such as:Barry Gott, Mike Moran, Jim Paillot, Mike DeSantis, Tamara Petrosino, David Leonard and David Galchutt to name but a few.

Me and Jennifer Thermes

Karen Lee and Susan Miller having a very animated discussion about illustration

Me and Julie Fortenberry

Liz Goulet Dubois Jannie took this picture and sadly, I didn’t get a proper chance to chat with Liz. Hopefully we will get a chance another time.
Photo by Jannie Ho

After the portfolio sharing, we took a break for lunch, then it was time for the costume party. Every year there is a theme and this year’s theme was: “That’s Silly!” People really made a big effort and the costumes were amazing.

Highlights offices with welcome banners

The Illustration for Kids gals all dressed up – from left to right: Jenn, Jannie, me and Paula

I am dressed as an eccentric gardener….
Photo by R Michael Palan

Jenn, Karen and daughters

After the costume party, there was another get together for a meal and a square dance. it was a lot of fun but we all wilted quite quickly after such a busy day.

Sunday was the last day. There was a brunch for everyone in the tent out at Boyd’s Mill and it was our last chance to meet up with everyone again before saying our goodbyes.

Me and Paula at Boyd’s Mill

All the fun had to end sometime, so we headed off for our long drive back home to Montreal. We had some great memories to take with us. It was so nice to meet illustrators in person that I felt I already “knew” from the internet, and they were all just as lovely in reality and now feel like real friends. And also discovering so many artists that I did not previously know and getting to see their artwork in person. It was a wonderful experience.

View from Pinegrove Cottages
On the road home to Montreal

And I think the question should be: “Why would anybody NOT want to go to Honesdale?”


  1. Lyn Martin says:

    Susan- I really enjoyed your musings on the Highlights weekend- thanks for sharing. Although we might have spoken briefly, I am sorry to say that I really didn’t get to know you. It seems like these weekends are always greatly anticipated and by the time you say hello to a few people and hug a few others that you haven’t seen in a year, then the weekend is over! Regardless- thanks for sharing and I hope we get to talk at length sometime!


  2. david galchutt says:

    lyn summed it up very well (lyn and i met 7 years ago at the party and have become good friends). it’s great to be around such a fun, talented group of artists. so glad you had the opportunity to attend! it’s such an amazing weekend that i look forward to all year. hope to see you next year.


  3. Tanja P. says:

    Wow, your gardener hat is awesome! So cute 🙂

  4. Jannie says:

    How did I miss this post?!? Amazing time… so happy to see you again 🙂

  5. Hi Susan, A friend sent me your lovely post. We were hoping to see each other at a planned party this year, but unfortunately it had to be canceled.
    It was nice to re-vist a trip to Highlights. My husband and I have been to SEVENTEEN of thes amazing parties. They were indeed the “Highlight” of our year.
    So many people to meet so little time, wished I’d gotten to know you.

    Perhaps there will be another get together in the future. Until then, carry on, your art is wonderful.

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