The 2013-2014 Woodworking Show season wrapped up this last weekend, March 21-23, in Tampa. This has to be one of the nicest places to end a show that, other than Atlanta, has seen some form of frozen precipitation every weekend since January in each of the cities we’ve visited. Because of one particular spate of bad weather and luck, I never even made it home from Baltimore and decided just to drive 5 hours to the Hartford show instead. I can only imagine how hard the slushy, slippery season has been on our road crew as they’ve crisscrossed the country week to week. To close at a venue with 80 degree weather, a very tranquil pond and some local wildlife was definitely a pleasant way to finish.
I also took the opportunity to visit the home of some great friends, take in some of the more weird sights (like this maritime themed retail store), and say goodbye to my show friends over dinner each evening. Aah, life on the road!
The Tampa show was very well attended throughout the weekend with the best crowds on Friday and Saturday. Ours was the only show of the weekend at the Florida State Fairgrounds so the parking was perfect for our attendees and devoid of the long walks of previous years with the fairgrounds hosting multiple shows simultaneously. Wood Miser used the sunny, seasonal weather to cut logs at the front gate, providing a show outside the show. Once indoors, woodworkers found stationary and portable tools, an array of woodworking clubs and the educational booths.
Some of the clubs, like the Brandon Woodworkers Club, did double duty by not only displaying the work of their members but teaching the fundamentals of the craft to anyone who was interested.
The Florida West Coast Woodworkers Club had samples of a very unique segmented vessel. And the Woodcrafters Guild of Florida paid tribute to our military by creating urns to be used by families to house the remains of their fallen heroes. Couple this with the more formal education in nearly every corner and cubby and you’ve got a weekend with almost too much to see, do and learn. Not a bad bargain for $12.
We also had a nice group of projects entered in the Project Showcase. Unfortunately, there were no youth entries but this is, after all, the home of the retired, nearly retired and wishing they could retire demographic. We did, however, have all four of our adult categories covered. In Furniture, third place went to Terry Sanchez for his Sailfish Coffee Table. Second place was the Scalloped Floating Top Table by Art Falcone. The first place ribbon and choice of a Bosch tool went to Raymond Wytovich’s Carved Story Table.
In Turnings/Carving, the first place winner Philip Ranalli took the ribbon and tool choice for his Orange Bowl.
In Models/Toys, The Model Trains on a Bridge by Charles Kested took top honors and a Bosch tool.
The Open Category winners were father and son. Second place went to Paul Ethington’s Game Board and his father, Jim, took home the bragging rights (and a tool) for his Guitar.
The People’s Choice winner was the Trains on a Bridge by Charles Kested and the overall winner, the Educator’s Choice, went to Art Falcone’s Scalloped Floating Top Table.
This was the final week of the judging so Art will join the winners of the previous weekends in a contest to find our ultimate champion. Judging should commence in the very near future and the winner will be announced on the Woodworking Shows home site as well as on their Facebook page.
The end of the season for me is, to be honest, somewhat bittersweet. Though the summer is shaping up to be a bit busy, most of my time will be spent with family and much of the travel will be with my wife to visit our kids and grandchildren. I’m really looking forward to that.
But I’ll also be taking an extended break from my “road” family, our show owner and his “front office” staff, our setup crews and truck drivers, vendors and fellow educators. Our last meal together was Saturday night and it was filled with food, drink, music and a lot of laughter. We congratulated each other on another year together and were told that the new season was already planned to start in late October. The summer, it seems, always goes by so quickly.
To all my fellow woodworkers, thanks for coming out to see us this last year. I very much appreciate all the kind words and those smiling faces. October will be here before you know it. Hope you’ll make plans to visit me and our show this next season.
‘Til then, I’ll see you on the road.
WOOD Magazine Traveling Ambassador