Wednesday: Conference Week

Part Three In a Seven Day Series

Each conference always brings its own peculiar set of challenges, especially mid-week. One year the wrong size of display cases arrived from New Jersey. Last year an early morning layer of ice prevented our trucks from making it up the hill to the hotel; and a black widow spider derailed one seminar speaker’s plans to fly from California to Asheville.

And this year is proving to be no exception.

James Haggerty, who was bitten by the spider last February, found himself back in the hospital again this week, and unable to convince his doctor to let him fly here. Fortunately, author and experienced speaker Susan Montgomery agreed to fill in, so will be at the podium on Saturday morning speaking on the fabulous collection of tiles in the collection of The Two Red Roses Foundation. Joby Patterson, who is speaking on woodblock prints, will switch from Saturday morning’s time slot to Friday evening to give Susan one night’s rest before speaking.

As soon as I got this all taken care of yesterday morning, I made another trip up Sunset Mountain to the Grove Park Inn with another load of boxes and materials. That was when I found two more surprises. First, my most experienced set-up man was in the emergency room dealing with an excruciating kidney stone, and may not be available to me today. Second, the elevator which we depend on for load-in is out of service, and we are not sure when the Otis Elevator mechanics will be able to repair or replace the motor.

And so this morning I am revising my speaker introductions, making signs to announce the schedule change at the Arts and Crafts Registration Desk, typing out instructions for finding the alternative set of elevators for load-in, and getting ready to meet my pipe-and-drape crew in just two hours at 7:00am.

We will have one day to set more than 100 booths, put the tables, display cases, pegboards, and chairs in each one, hang signs for each one, and set and adjust the ceiling lights.

All to be done by tonight.

Then we brace ourselves for the arrival of all the exhibitors tomorrow, when we find out what did not go according to our plans today.

But make no mistake, it is worth every hour of worry when on Thursday and Friday the doors open and I see your eager faces, anxious to see what treasures are awaiting in each of the booths, to take a walking tour, to sit in on a small group discussion or watch a demonstration, and to gather at the end of the day before one of the two mammoth fireplaces in the Great Hall to exchange stories with an old friend, or to meet a new one who shares our passion for everything Arts and Crafts.

Until tomorrow morning,

Make it a weekend you’ll never forget.