If I had to choose one of the most verdant and beautiful parts of the country to have a woodworking show, my vote would be for Portland, Oregon. I flew in on Thursday and immediately headed for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, just east of the city. Though it rained for most of the entire weekend, somewhat normal for the area, there was a momentary break on the clouds which revealed the majestic Mount Hood.
The drive wound up into the hills above the river and passed many waterfalls, none as spectacular as Multnoma Falls. Rising 620 feet above its basin, the thunder of the crashing water could be heard from a great distance away and the view from a stone bridge was amazing.
The seemingly drinkable wash water ran under the nearby railroad tracks and there were King Salmon everywhere. The red color of their bodies signaled spawning time and their relatively imminent death. I was told by one of the docents that these fish were on their last fin. So much for afterglow.
The Woodworking Shows opened to one of the best Fridays in a while. Over 800 attendees came through the gates in the first hour and filled the aisles in this often used venue. In addition to the usual vendors, there were a number of opportunities to purchase portable and stationary power tools. Bosch, Fein, Porter Cable, Delta, Jet and General were all represented on the show floor. The Western Wood Carvers Association as well as the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers had some impressive displays.
Bob is a volunteer high school shop teacher and his table will be made by many of this year’s students and then auctioned at the end of the school year. His table will be added to the other 20 weekly projects to be judged in Houston in April 2011. The Hope Chest by Doug Hepburn took second and the third place project was a violin by Gerald Morton. This was for his daughter and had a harbor seal carving, her favorite animal.
New to the shows this year is the Faces of the Woodworking Shows. The educators and last year’s grand prize Showcase winner have been honored with this distinction. I think that a case can be made as well for those attendees who come from great distances or spend three days at the show. Some came from Idaho and Canada to take advantage of the education and the sales. I had a very nice meeting with Don Dietrick of Tillamook, Oregon who spent the entire weekend absorbing everything that he could about anything woodworking. These people show that in spite of a less than robust economy, their love of the craft is still very strong as is their desire to learn new techniques.
Next up is Denver and then there will be a break in the weekly travel for Thanksgiving. The Denver venue at the Merchandise Mart has always been a great show with good attendance. The relatively stable, though wet, climate in the great northwest will be traded for the elevations of Denver and the chance for weather extremes. The climate will be very conducive on the show floor though with vendors and educators always trying to please. Give us the chance to welcome you if you’re in the area.
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.
WOOD Magazine’s Traveling Ambassador