Thursday Morning: Behind the Scenes

Today is the day when changes really begin to happen.

Everything up to this point in time has been planning and preparing for today and the rest of the week, for today is Exhibitor Move-In day.

Yesterday morning we started with two empty ballrooms, twelve empty meeting rooms, and a Great Hall teeming with construction crews in hard hats working inside giant plastic tents suspended from the ceiling more than twenty feet in the air, each one encapsulating one of the original pillars growing out of the floor of the Great Hall.

This morning one ballroom has more than 1000 chairs set for our seminars, six of the meeting rooms are lined with tables and chairs for both pre-conference workshops and daily Small Group Discussions, the other six are filled with tables, chairs, pegboards and display cases ordered by the Contemporary Craftsfirms, and the Grand Ballroom is now divided into rows, each row divided into booths, and each booth is sitting nearly empty, awaiting the arrival of some of the most spectacular array of Arts & Crafts furniture, art pottery, metalware, art, books, and jewelry.

And the workmen have left, but not before taking down the plastic sheathing, revealing three of the original columns: one nearly complete and two showing the steps involved in their transformation.


And all of this in less than 24 hours.

We still have a few details to take care of early this morning. A missing table here and there, a broken display case door, and some signs to put on easels, but today the action shifts from me to the 125 exhibitors who will be setting up their booths today and tomorrow prior to the 1:00pm opening on Friday.

Then I just sit back and wait for the questions to start pouring in: Can I switch a six-foot table for an eight-footer? (Yes.) Can I get an extra name badge for another booth helper? (No.) Do you have some extra pegboard hooks? (Yes.) How about an eight-foot extension cord? (In my supply box.) What’s the sales tax in North Carolina? (7%) Is there a shipper in the show? (Two. One for furniture, one for smalls.) What time do the shows open on Friday? (One o’clock.)

Today I will supervise the Exhibitor Load-In, then step back and stay out of their way as they organize their booths and agonize over the best way to showcase the fantastic array of antiques and new works they have brought to Asheville.

And even after 26 years of watching this metamorphosis, I still am spellbound by what I see at the end of the day: the country’s finest, unparalleled exhibition of the Best of the Best – the finest Arts and Crafts antiques and new works by talented, living craftsmen and craftswomen you can find anywhere or anytime in the entire country.

No joke.

As I have said before, “You can see do more, see more and learn more Arts and Crafts here in three days than you can in an entire year at home.”

And if you don’t have plans to be here tomorrow, take a look at your “To Do” list and ask yourself this: could it be any better than this?

Until tomorrow morning,

Have a great day!


Top: Artist and printmaker Laura Wilder finds herself between her husband Bob Thompson on the left and James Miller of Mission Guild Studio on the right. Bottom: Cameron Quintal of Eastwood Gallery at work building a wall in their booth in the antiques show.