Friday Conference Report

Aided by sunny skies without even a hint of rain, our load-in process started smoothly at 8:00am Thursday morning and proceeded just as smoothly throughout the day. With the vast majority of our exhibitors returning – several for the 28th, 29th even the 30th time – they pretty much know the drill.

What makes it go so smoothly, however, are the twelve young, strong men who also come back every year to serve as porters for both the Thursday load-in and the Sunday night load-out. These men take a day off from their regular jobs to come here to carefully handle everything from a rare Charles Rohlfs’s rotating desk to a tiny, egg-shell thin George Ohr vase.

For the exhibitors, set-up day is as much a time to renew long-standing relationships as it is a day for preparing their booths. While they may spend four days together here at the Grove Park Inn, helping each other assemble their merchandise, watching each other’s booths during breaks and sometimes having lunch or dinner together, most of them never see each other the rest of the year.

And don’t think for a moment that all they do is unpack a box of pots, put them on a table and drag in a couple of pieces of furniture. Many spend hours back home planning, designing and building their displays, then dismantle them, pack them in their truck or van, drive to Asheville and spend several more hours reassembling them for your enjoyment.

Our day ended with the annual Kick-Off Party hosted by the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms. This is always my chance to simply sit back and enjoy the music, the food and the comradery of the Arts and Crafts Conference, as the museum’s staff handles all of the arrangements for the the night.

And so today, this being Friday, we will be putting the final touches on the booths, getting ready for the 1:00pm opening, then moving on to the first evening of seminars.

And a true celebration of thirty years here at the historic Grove Park Inn.

Until tomorrow,

Come see why this is “the most important weekend of the year for Arts and Crafts collectors.”