The Black Orchid Banquet
Named for Wolfe's prized black orchids, the banquet celebrated its
December 1, 2012
This annual event
is held in New York City on the first Saturday of December, in honor of Rex Stout's birthday, December 1. The Assembly sessions in the afternoon preceding the banquet discuss and explore aspects of the Corpus. Speakers have included a New York City coroner, president of an orchid society, a nutritionist, and natives of Montenegro, where Wolfe spent his formative years and, quite possibly, was born. The assembly is followed by the oldest and most important event, the Black Orchid Banquet where Wolfe Pack members and their guests gather for a meal prepared using recipes from The Nero Wolfe Cookbook.
(click the button to read a review of the cookbook)
Keynote speakers have included Michael Jaffe, Executive Producer of the A&E series, A Nero Wolfe Mystery
, Robin Winks, mystery book reviewer for the Boston Globe and professor at Yale, a private detective, the Press Secretary to the Lt. Governor of NY, a Police Inspector, a New Yorker (and VERY renowned comic author/illustrator) named Archie Goodwin, Polly Whitney, a mystery writer who built a model of the brownstone, noted authors including Laurence Block, Jane Haddam, and Donald Westlake.
The Plaque at 454 West 35th Street
Although the books give addresses that place Nero Wolfe's brownstone in the Hudson River, the Wolfe Pack located the probable residence. In 1996, a plaque was affixed to 454 West 35th Street and dedicated by Commissioner Henry Stern, Department of Parks and Recreation, New York City. Click here to visit the Wolfe Pack's scrapbook regarding 454 W. 35th Street with photos, press clippings, etc.
The Literary Awards
The Nero Award
At the annual Black Orchid Banquet, the Wolfe Pack presents the annual Nero Wolfe Award
to an author for literary excellence in the mystery genre. Past winners of the award include Martha Grimes, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, and Sharyn McCrumb, all of whom attended the banquet. For more information, visit The Nero Award page
. Click the image of the award to enlarge it.
The Black Orchid Novella Award
To celebrate the novella format, an important part of the corpus of Rex Stout, the Wolfe Pack and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
have partnered to sponsor the Black Orchid Novella Award. Jane Cleland
, long-term Wolfe Pack member, is the chair of the event. Jane says, "At every mystery conference and event I attend, people are excited about the opportunity to write a novella—and they're excited about the great prize—$1,000 from Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine—plus, of course, publication in the magazine!"
For further information regarding procedures, submission directions and other information, use the "Literary Awards" menu to the left.
Varied Other Activities
(also see the Scrapbook Section
and upcoming Events
Wolfe loves shad roe and, to Archie's dismay, can eat it three times a day during shad season. A Spring event finds members enjoying a Shad Roe dinner (or "The Archie" alternative) and writing songs and limericks to celebrate Wolfe, Archie, and Rex Stout. Other dining events have included Montenegrin dinners, a Real Montana Trout Deal, and a birthday party for Archie, featuring his favorite dishes.
Bimonthly Book Discussions are
held in mid-town Manhattan. A discussion leader summarizes the selected book, provides background information, and introduces various topics for discussion.
A favorite Fall event is a Brunch Hunt
. The group embarks on a detective mission using a series of directions, based on the Corpus, to locate the previously undisclosed restaurant. The hunt ends in a brunch where members and their guests enjoy Wolfean conversation.
Here a member wrestles down a clue (Hickory Caesar Grindon of course) at the December 2002 Brunch Hunt
in Lower Manhattan.
Other events have included:
- a trip to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (TWICE), which served as Stout's model for Kanawha Spa in Too Many Cooks
- a picnic at Rex Stout's home, High Meadow (The Stout family invited members to picnic on the grounds of the family home designed and built by Stout.)
- special screenings of the two 1930's films based on Nero Wolfe: Meet Nero Wolfe and The League of Frightened Men.
- A special destination was Toronto, where the Wolfe Pack visited the set of the A&E T. V. Series (by invitation). Pack members met and mingled with the cast and crew.
- other events have included a Halloween Party, racetrack outings each featuring a Nero Wolfe race, and interactive mystery games.
Feel free to take a look at The Wolfe Pack Scrapbook
for more information and pictures of events from the past few years.