With this year's festival just down the road in Cape May, NJ, I just had to take the trip down the Parkway and attend the event. I was hoping to view the contest pieces for shard of the year and hopefully, run into a few sea glassing friends I had made via the internet, on forums and emails.
I did notice some complaints on Facebook, where the Saturday crowds apparently were much larger than expected and people hinted that the Convention Center was too small for such an event. I remembered the large crowds from the Lewes, Delaware event a few backs and thought how much worse could it get. The event in DE had long lines, very crowded vendor rooms, but it was spacious outside.
To put it simply, the Cape May Convention Center was not nearly large enough for the 2014 turnout. I am assuming the powers-that-be expected crowds in the 2,500-3,000 range and found the crowds to nearly double expectations. The weekend at the Cape was beautiful and the area always draws weekenders in the fall.
The town of Cape May was in full force at the event on Sunday and it seemed like everything was well organized, with the town's Mayor meeting and greeting guests and security and police presence keeping things running smoothly. The boardwalk and beach both seemed quite busy. Local shops all seemed to have a fair amount of foot traffic going in and out.
Once we were inside, we noticed the presenters were minimal, though we did speak with a couple of collectors with sea glass found in Italy, who were quite friendly and took the time to speak with all who asked questions. The vendors were located in a decent size room and with crowd control in effect, it was possible to get to the vendors tables (unlike the crowds of 4 and 5 people deep in DE). The shard of the entries were accessible and so many pieces were absolutely amazing!
By the time we arrived, in mid-afternoon, many of the vendors looked exhausted. Traffic at their tables seemed brisk and it really was impossible to stop by to introduce myself and say hi. But Kevin and I did have a chance to stop and talk with Gary of Just Beechy Keen (fantastic sea glass from Santa Cruz!) and I really loved Made by Meg's creations (and she was so sweet to everyone who stopped by her table).
The one aspect of the show that seems to have changed over the years (at least since DE) is very few vendors seem to be selling loose sea glass. I know Souris, Mary Beth and a couple of others had some loose glass, but several people were just looking to purchase a specific color, or just wanted sea glass that looks differently than the angular shards we find here on the east coast. Hint, hint vendors for 2015- loose sea glass!
Of course, all the veterans of the festival had amazing creations displayed and their tables were the most difficult to get to. Hopefully, in 2015, I will get there on Saturday and find the time to say Hi. Who knows, maybe I will even take the plunge and try to become a vendor one of these years.
A hearty well done to NASGA for another successful festival. It's never a bad thing to have to consider a bigger venue for your event. I spoke with several first time attendees who never knew anything like this existed.
Another hint for 2015...Atlantic City...I heard there are several hotels that aren't doing much there anymore.
til next time...