We are now in the midst of the 33rd National Arts and Crafts Conference, taking place as it always has at the iconic 1913 Grove Park Inn Resort built on the western slope of Sunset Mountain overlooking Asheville, North Carolina.
The week has gotten off to a good start, as Kate and I took Monday and Tuesday to literally pack up our office and recreate it in two different locations in the hotel. She has taken over the Sammons Wing Registration Desk, where today she is checking in the exhibitors, who will begin setting up their booths on Thursday. The remainder of the week she will be managing the registration of all of our attendees, each of whom receives a name badge, our 88-page Conference Catalog, a 2020 Arts and Crafts wall calendar, a conference poster, and various other materials in their tote bag.
I set up my office for the week in the Vanderbilt Wing Registration Desk, from which I direct the construction of the pipe and drapes for the booths, hanging signs, setting up tables, and adjusting lights. Once everything is in place, the Registration Desk becomes the Ticket Booth for the afternoon shows on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Then I just get out of the way.
As I often tell the tale, this conference started in 1988 with 30 antiques dealers and 300 people. I arranged for seven seminar speakers, then over the years added daily discussion groups, workshops, walking tours, house tours, an art museum reception, a Craftsman Farms kick-off party, daily demonstrations, two book club discussions, a Saturday night movie, a silent auction, a Books Show, a Contemporary Craftsfirms Show, and even more antiques dealers.
As a result, our initial crowd of 300 has grown to nearly 3,000 who come over the course of three days.
And 3,000 people generate a lot of energy, excitement and enthusiasm.
If you are reading this at home before departing for the conference, I always advise that you call whatever hotel you are staying at just to double-check your reservation’s arrival and departure dates. The GPI’s number is (828) 252-2711.
And if you are reading this at home and wondering if you could still attend, the answer is yes. We always have a few cancellations this week, so to see about a room at the GPI, call (828) 252-2711 and ask for Group Reservations.
To purchase a three-day conference events’ pass without lodging, call the same hotel number and ask for Kate at the Arts and Crafts Registration Desk.
And you can always attend the afternoon selling shows, simply by driving up to the GPI (290 Macon Avenue) and buying a show ticket at the Ticket Booth. The ticket is $10 for adults and $5 for students and is good for all three days: Friday 1-6pm; Saturday noon-6pm, and Sunday 11am-4pm. Outdoor parking is free, as are three hours of garage parking.
Trust me, it’s an experience you won’t be able to duplicate until twelve months from now.
And if you don’t believe me, the New York Times has called it “the most important weekend of the year for Arts and Crafts collectors.”
And we have been working to live up to that compliment every year!
Until next week,
Hope to see you soon!