3935 Cooley Drive, NE, Salem, Oregon 97305
In the September/October, 78 GEM, Preston Foster wrote an article finding fault with many shows in the way that they ran their operation. At that time I was in the position of show manager at Antique Powerland, and I took offense to his article. Preston and I had some conversations and correspondence about this and I hope that it was productive.
Since that time, with the many more shows on the scene, I have had the opportunity to attend many shows. I have taken the time to ask questions of the show managers and found out what their thinking is about the way that they operate their shows. I have found many factors that determine the type of operation they run:
Quite a few shows are in the position that their property has either been given to them or they are using a farm or municipal fairground. They are in a good position in that they don't have any property payments to make, no taxes to pay and in many cases very minimal expenses. On the other hand, the shows that are buying property and paying property taxes must watch their budget very closely. They have to charge a gate admission. (Some shows do, however, let a bonafide exhibitor in at no charge.) Campgrounds should be self-supporting. Charge just enough to cover the cost of permits and electrical expenses. I have not heard of any shows that are doing their thing just for the money. If they are, they might be in trouble!
There is no excuse for not handing out a button or plaque to an exhibitor. This is just a good practice and makes a nice memento. Do it when the exhibitor arrives so that they can display it along with their equipment.
Many show managers feel that this is a thorn in their side. They don't have enough room to park vehicles very close to an exhibitor's area so they either let them park right there, or quite a distance away. There doesn't seem to be any clear solution to this problem.
How many times have you gone to a show and been shown where to set up your display, only to have someone else come around and tell you to move it some place else. There is no excuse for this other than a lot of shows rely on volunteer help, and the volunteer isn't always there. You will find one person doing his job, along with three or four other jobs. They just don't have enough time to do all the things that need to be done. The general feeling is that 'they don't need my help, someone else can do it.' I would say that if everyone at a show would donate just one hour of their time to the show, there wouldn't be this problem.
Yes, I have been to shows where the attitude has been 'We don't give a damn, we don't need you.' My feeling on this is go back and tell all your friends that they are not welcome at that particular show. If we don't go to these types of shows, pretty soon they won't have them, and they will be wondering why.
However, 99% of the shows that I have gone to the attitude has been, 'Welcome, glad you're here, enjoy yourself and come back next year.'
In closing, I would say to all show managers. Peace and harmony should prevail at your show and who knows, the person that you turned away might have had a one-of-a-kind item that would be a real big display feature.