3231 Randolph Street, N.W., Warren, Ohio 44485
As a concerned engine collector I feel compelled to write this letter to voice an opinion which I am certain needs to be expressed as I am sure it is harbored in the minds of many of your readers. As an ardent collector and avid show goer participating in 15-20 shows per year, I have seen a changing trend. During the past show season I have heard more griping and complaining, replacing the normal B.S. which usually flies when collector I gee together. As per normal most gripes and statements of discontent are made among friends rather than to those to whom they should be communicated.
It seems as if many of those persons and many of the organizations who are organizing and running shows have in essence lost sight of possibly one of the most important aspects of the show, 'the exhibiting collector.' It's difficult to voice an opinion without being specific and pointing fingers at specific groups or shows. I'm sure that many of you could point the finger right back in complaint about things relating to the show which I am specifically involved, but nevertheless, it must be said. Many of us collectors in recent years and with increasing frequency have become antagonized, intimidated and in general have been made to feel unwelcome or have been given the impression, 'Who gives a damn. We don't need you.'
Our basic hassels and confrontations probably fall in several specific areas: First, At The Gate. Example: You've just hauled a load of equipment, driven umpteen hours and now hear somebody at the gate say, 'That will be $5.00 for membership. Oh, are you going to camp, that will be an extra $4,50,' and things of this nature. Now really, to how many of you has something similar to this happened and if not at the gate, when you arrive at the show office to register you encounter similar confrontations. I have heard numerous collectors say, 'I never unloaded, I just turned around and went home.' Or, 'The equipment stayed on the rig and I walked around for awhile.' Do we really need to charge the exhibitor to camp? Is sleeping in the back of one's pick-up truck camping? Many of us see the same folks, non-exhibitors camping at many shows. They have become quite wise. Go to an engine show, camping is cheap, lots to see, buy, eat, and in many instances great entertainment in the evening. It's a much better deal than staying at a KOA Camp Ground and by far cheaper. If there is a need to charge, let's let the non-exhibiting campers pay at the going rate.
Secondly, Display Management: There is nobody to show you where you are to spot your equipment, so you place your equipment where you feel prudent or have someone show you where to place your equipment only to have someone ' else say, 'No, you must move it.' I personally drove six hours to attend a show, made reservations two nights in a motel because my family was traveling with me. I checked in at the show office and was shown by a director where to place my engine, asked to move it by two other directors and asked to move it again by an entire committee. By the time the show had ended, engines were then located on both of my previous locations. Things such as this are totally uncalled for and unnecessary and easily seen why one would like to pack up and return home.
Thirdly, Display and Support Vehicle Location: This one I realize in many instances is probably impossible to modify or change but it sure is an inconvenience. Unload your engines here and park your vehicle over there, which could be in some instances a mile away. (This is no exaggeration!} One of the true enjoyments of a show is the brotherhood of collectors and sitting at the back of your car, truck, or trailer enjoying the friendship and fellowship which makes it all worth coming, and without your vehicle it seems as if everything and everybody is over there.
Fourth, The Plaque: Many shows do give a plaque and yet this particular item can turn into a hassel. Example: You're told, 'We give plaques Sunday after the parade.' Now in essence this may be a show that runs Friday, Saturday, and Sunday or longer. It's possible that you could exhibit on that Friday or Saturday or both and not receive a plaque but a person coming in Sunday morning or afternoon and spending just a few hours could receive a plaque because they're there after the parade on Sunday. It seems very inequitable that a person could spend 48 hours at a show and not receive a plaque when somebody could come in and conceivably spend three or four hours and receive one. Is a little trinket really worth antagonizing a person who has something which can truly add to your show?
In summarizing, have these people in charge of our shows really lost the insight into what it means to donate a weekend or a day of our time to make their show a success? As exhibitors we travel miles on end, pay for gasoline, food and at times lodging which is an additional donation to their show because they do pay hauling of large equipment, yet we donate this free. It's an effort to exhibit and exhibitors should have fun and relax and should not leave with a 'mistreated' feeling.
In closing, our displays are valuable and in many instances irreplaceable yet every time we exhibit we take a risk, a risk which could be a real financial disaster if a piece of machinery or equipment should be damaged in transit. One only has to look at a steam engine or large tractor which has been shortened by two feet at the overhead clearance, look at the picture o( a tractor and a flatbed trailer overturned on a California freeway, or talk to a collector who has damaged any piece of equipment in transit to realize that the risk potential is real. The club to which we exhibitors haul our displays does not assume any liability involved in transit because they are not the haulers. Let's truly hope that those persons responsible for the forest and are not so narrow minded that they can look through a keyhole with both eyes open because in our changing times there may come a time when we as collectors say, 'It's not worth it' and without us there will be no shows!