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Season Opener

The start of the new woodworking show season began this last Friday in Mesquite, Texas. Located about 20 minutes east of Dallas, this venue was one that we had used last year and is probably best known as the site of the gun show by the locals. The old exhibition hall is not much to look at from the front but housed a nice variety of educational and retail booths that have become a destination stop for area woodworkers. In fact, on this weekend, it also played host to a cotillion for over 250 people as well as a wedding. This was one busy place on Saturday with the sound of routers and table saws mixing with dueling Mariachi bands. Talk about sensory overload. Timothy Leary would have felt right at home here. Some of us were having flashbacks.

The educational areas were very well attended. New this year was the band saw tune up seminar and the chairs were always filled to hear what instructor Alex Snodgrass had to say. Those that came to learn about finishing enjoyed Roland Johnson’s take on the subject.

I was relieved to find that the router seminars were well received and attended. 

 Combined with cabinet making and pen turning, those that came for all the free education certainly got their moneys worth.

Most vendors said that they had a good start this weekend. There was plenty of traffic in the aisles and many attendees carried bags. One of the new booths this year was 3D Woodworking Store. They had a nice selection of veneer packets and bandings in addition to colored inlay material.

School of Woodworking from Elm Mott, Texas was there to display the work done at the school and to promote attendance for their upcoming class schedules.

A  number of local clubs were also on hand and the work that the carvers were doing was particularly impressive. The Show Off Showcase had just four entries but they were well done. The runner up winner was Jim Southworth’s Rocking Chair. He picked the plan from WOOD Magazine, by the way.

The winner this first week was David Borg. His was a carving with a dragon theme that showed exceptional detail. 

His Santa Dragon rendition was also very unique.

He is a very talented artisan with bird carvings that looked as though they had been frozen in time and ready to fly off if awakened. I was particularly taken with his Cedar Waxwing and bought it as a gift for my wife. Always thinking of her,  of course.

Next week we’re off to Costa Mesa in southern California. This is the start of a west coast swing that will take us to Sacramento and then Portland, Oregon. In a state hard hit by the housing crisis and recession, it should be interesting to see how California is fairing.

I am writing this from the airport in Dallas.  I made sure that I had plenty of time to catch a plane by booking a later flight because I wasn’t sure how long it would take  to break down my booth for the first time this season. Well, I got here 2 ½ hours early only to find out that they closed all the food and coffee vendors at 7 PM. Even the bars are closed! Everyone else must have known this but me. It’s so quiet and relatively deserted here. What I wouldn’t do for a little Mariachi music right now.  

If you’re close to one of the upcoming venues, please stop in. You’ll be glad you did.

‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.

Jim Heavey

WOOD Magazine’s Traveling Ambassador

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