Week 14 in the current Woodworking Show season took place this last weekend in St. Louis. All the signs were there for a good show: weather in the 40’s and 50’s, sunshine and a well run venue in Collinsville, Illinois. It turned out to be a record breaker.
I did make one stop before crossing the Mississippi River into Illinois and that was at the historic Fox Theatre. Appropriately located on Grand Blvd, this theatre opened in 1929 and was second in size only to the Roxy in New York. The enormity of the lobby and the 4500 seat capacity made my attempts to adequately capture it seem really amateurish.
The tour I took, with only two other people, explored all 6 stories of this building and included areas beneath the giant stage. Throughout this back stage labyrinth, I saw the walls decorated with the signatures of the performers in many of the shows in the theatre’s history. Even the preview room, with priceless autographed pictures, in addition to the projector area, could be viewed.
Everywhere I looked, from the wood and plasterwork on the stage face to the antiques in the hallways, I tried to imagine what this kind of undertaking would cost today. This was well worth the stop.
The show at the Gateway Centre opened to over 2000 attendees on Friday making it the best opening on a Friday in years.
This is a venue with a number of exhibit areas and these seasoned woodworkers found every one of them. There were booths in the main hallways and seminars in classrooms just off the show floor. Saturday’s attendance was also huge and a personal record for me. I had standing room only in a seminar with over 160 chairs filled. Truth be told, I think that it was the new spalted wood cologne I had on that drew them in. I’ve ordered more!
I got a chance to talk to Charlie Shane of the Belleville Area Holzschnitzers (I’m not making that name up) Woodcarvers Club. There were a number of very unique carving examples that caught my eye. Charlie specializes in bark carving but I thought that the golf ball and sweet potato pieces were great.
The Capitol Area Woodworkers of Springfield, Illinois had some member projects that were noteworthy. The bent table and the figured table were proudly displayed and talking with those present was a real pleasure as was my time with those at the International Wood Collectors Society and the turned vases they were showing.
The Show Off Showcase only had a few entries this weekend but they represented the St. Louis area well. This “Toddler Sculpted Rocking Chair” by Richard Hubbs took the overall first place and will be well used by his young daughter.
Second place was the work of Clifton Withrow and his “Big Kids Rocking Horse” and finally the beautifully crafted “Windsor Continuous Arm Settee” brought Cecil Robertson a third.
All the winners took home a Bosch power tool and gifts from the Woodworking Shows.
As there is every week, there is a lot to see and be excited about when attending a woodworking show. Rev. Paul Goddard brought something to help him contain his enthusiasm while he ogled the Bosch Glide Miter saw in my booth.
Your next chance will be this coming weekend in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Expo Center Fair Park in West Allis. You can check The Woodworking Shows website to see a floor plan and exhibitor list.
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.
I think that I know where that wood smell may have come from.
WOOD Magazine’s Traveling Ambassador
Categories: Interesting Woodworkers We've Met, wood, Woodworking Show Reports | Tags: Belleville Area Holzschnitzers Woodcarvers Club, Bosch Tools, Capitol Area Woodworkers, Fox Theatre, Gateway Centre, Jim Heavey, The Woodworking Shows, WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador
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