The second woodworking show of 2011 was in Springfield, Massachusetts and the timing couldn’t have been better. The east coast and in particular, New England, had been hit with a 25 inch snowstorm the day before my departure. The area was well prepared though and I was surprised to see how well the streets and even sidewalks were cleared on my arrival. A couple of the places I had decided to visit were still closed so I took a slow ride north of the airport to see some of the local sights. The homes along the way couldn’t have been more typical of what I had expected to see in this part of the country. Colonial styling was evident everywhere and even the coach houses were in keeping with what would have made for a great Currier and Ives print. Couple this styling with the beauty of a considerable snow fall and you have some memorable views of the New England countryside.
One spot I did find open was the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke. Just about 15 minutes north of the venue, this small museum housed memorabilia from high school players up to Olympic medals. I thought that I had a good knowledge of the sport until I saw information about sitting volleyball. Used in the Para- Olympic competitions, it made the game accessible to a variety of handicapped players while still affording a very competitive contest.
My daughter attended a D-1 University on a volleyball scholarship and my oldest son, now in his mid thirties, plays in a competitive league. My playing at five foot eight was always less than intimidating.
To prove that last week’s show in Baltimore wasn’t a fluke, the show in Springfield was also completely filled with vendors and offered an enhanced education schedule. If the attendees couldn’t find something of interest, they just weren’t looking closely enough. The first 50 with dull saw blades had them sharpened for free at the Ridge Carbide booth.
TV Personality Tommy Mac greeted and signed autographs for anyone who wandered close to his booth.
A number of woodworking schools were there to instruct and coax future students to take classes from basic to advanced.
I did a TV spot for WWLP-22 on Friday morning. This NBC affiliate’s show, Mass Appeal, invited us to promote the show and talk about creating a fire place mantle and surround. Luckily, I had just the right prop.
I got a chance to talk to and watch Matt Bickford as he demonstrated his hand planes in the Acanthus School booth. He produced a perfect ogee profile with planes that he makes. The planes work exceptionally well and easily looked as nice.
Next to my booth was a presentation new to the shows. The Shelter Institute from Woolwich, Maine, erected a timber frame structure and explained the process for hewing the lumber and cutting the joints. This was assembled with pegs and disassembled at the close of the show on Sunday. It had been bought by a local attendee to be used at his home. If it had fit in the overhead, I would have purchased it in a heartbeat for that perfect spot I have the back of my pasture at home.
The Showoff Showcase had a number of very well done projects this weekend. The top prize went to Dave Eaton for his “Very Wavy Vessel”. He was awarded a Bosch Jig saw for his efforts and will go to the champion competition in Houston. Second place was a beautifully crafted jewelry box with a drawer. Third place was won by Lynda Zibbideo’s Last Word” turning. She explained that the wood in this bowl had the last word when it refused to conform to her specifications.
Those in attendance were very happy with the show’s offerings and size, especially when compared with what they said they experienced last year. Vendors had hoped that they would have spent more, however, but hope springs eternal for next year.
The next shows are in Indianapolis and then Kansas City. Also a part of the Big Ten, these shows should be bigger and more varied than those in the past. If you can find the time to catch one of them, we’re sure you’ll be satisfied with what you’ll see there. We’re ready. All we need is you.
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.
WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador