Saturday Morning: Conference Week

It’s a corny line, but one that I could not help but think about yesterday: if you build it, they will come.

One hundred and one years ago E. W. Grove built a hotel overlooking Asheville, filled it with Arts and Crafts furniture, and gave people what they wanted: a place where they could come and relax and be pampered by a trained staff.

And people came.

Twenty-seven years ago the Grove Park Inn’s staff and I built a conference based on the premise (and the hope) that if you give Arts and Crafts collectors a place where they could come and relax and not only be pampered by a trained staff, but could also listen to interesting seminar speakers, take walking tours, meet other enthusiastic collectors, and pick from the finest antiques pieces to take back home with them, that they would also come.

And yesterday they did.

Call it superstition or perhaps just basic fear, but I don’t check attendance on the day the conference starts. I figure that by then there’s nothing I can do about it. The booths are all filled with fantastic antiques and new works, the discussion rooms are all set with tables and chairs, and the seminar room has about 1000 empty seats.

And yesterday when the doors to the shows opened at one o’clock, the people streamed in, anxious to see what the antiques dealers and the craftspeople had brought for them. And then, last night, at precisely eight o’clock, I climbed three steps to the stage, walked over to the podium, looked out over a packed ballroom of expectant faces, and I knew that once again they had come.

And they brought with them enough energy to light the city of Asheville, as they sought out old friends, made new ones, swapped stories of the one that got away (and the ones that didn’t), and soaked in all that the Grove Park Inn, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Arts and Crafts Conference had to offer them.

We sent them to bed last night exhausted but happy, and will start today with two more seminars before again opening the doors to the antiques show and the contemporary craftsfirms show at noon. The weather is scheduled to cooperate, with temperatures flirting with sixty degrees again today, making it easy for collectors in and around Asheville to also make the drive up Sunset Mountain to enjoy the show.

As for me, well, I’ll be staying out of everyone’s way as I watch and I listen and I begin making plans for how next year’s Arts and Crafts Conference can be even better than this one is poised to become.

So mark February 20-22, 2015, on your calendar and stayed tuned here, as we finish up this year’s Arts and Crafts Conference, and begin announcing plans for #28.

Until tomorrow morning,

Thanks for stopping by!