Friday Morning: Behind the Scenes

Each year I always know I am going to be faced with a few challenges, the real challenge of which is anticipating what challenges they will be this time.

Someone — actually, more than just one someone — recently said to me, “Well, you’ve done this now for 25 years, you should be able to just call it in….”

What they don’t realize is that this Arts and Crafts Conference is not just about tables and chairs, display cases and pegboards, speakers and name badges.

It’s about people.

And each year we deal with people and their personal challenges, from airport delays to an exhibitor who suddenly has an illness that prevents them from coming, to department staff who don’t anticipate the hours we will have the greatest need for them, and authors worrying about the arrival of their new book.

Thursday morning is when the first test comes, as the 125 exhibitors start arriving and see for the first time where their booth is and what it looks like. If they did their job right and gave us all the correct information, and if we did our job right and fill all their requests, then things flow smoothly. But if the line of communication — from exhibitor to my staff, then to me and on to the hotel staff — gets stretched to the breaking point, then we find out about it Thursday morning.

We have yet to have a perfect Thursday load-in, as exhibitor expectations don’t always match the reality of their space, their location or their setup. And that’s when the first challenges pop up.

And what I tell my staff and the staff at the Grove Park Inn is this: with 125 exhibitors and more than 1000 attendees, there are going to be mistakes. What I stress, however, is that people are more apt to judge us not by our mistakes, but how we handle them.

By the end of the day yesterday, we had nearly all of the exhibitors settled into their booths, where this morning they will have a few hours to make final adjustments. The display cases in the Great Hall have been filled by the American Art Pottery Association and the Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms; the Small Group Discussion leaders are ready for our first round at 11:00am; and the six seminar speakers are in the Heritage Ballroom doing their final rehearsal before the first pair of seminar presentations this evening.

And while we may see a little rain today, there is no chance of any snow for us here at the Grove Park Inn.

Life for an Arts and Crafts collector at the Grove Park Inn is good.

See you there!

Until tomorrow morning,

Make it a great day!