Not sure what to think

So I’ve been to the wood show.  I think

Don’t actually know where to start, or if I really want to, to be honest.

The show was tiny – about 1/2 the size of the Stitches and Craft show.  Certainly doesn’t compare to wood shows of old.  Took me about 10-15 minutes, and I had walked the entire floor plate.  Takes about that long to walk the floor of the Ballarat Wood Show (and that is not a negative perspective of the Ballarat Show – Ballarat has a population of under 100,000 after all).  Given that the Ballarat show is only 2 weekends away, it might be worth a drive for those who didn’t find the Melbourne show provided enough.

For those exhibitors who had turned up, there are many who have put in a definite effort.  The new Carbatec demonstration area looked great.  The chairs that House of Dunstone bought along were beautiful.  I am seriously hoping that they branch out into running some courses in how to make such fine furniture.  Timbecon had a good display, covering a good range of heavy machinery, smaller machines, consumables etc. Carbitool had their normal, impressive range of router bits on display, Arbortech had their standard display, and their latest offerings.  HNT Gordon had a typically impressive range of beautiful planes, including the stunning new addition to the stable, the moving fillister plane. The Warrior Wood Mill was set up outside, showing a range of their new log mills.

But many more were MIA.  Perhaps it had something to do with the organisers moving the date.  And then choosing a date that clashed with one of the biggest woodturning events in Australia: the Phillip Island Down Under Turnaround.  It may be by registration only, but I bet there were many people, and suppliers there instead, including Carrolls, and I daresay Ubeaut as well. And given the typical (but not exclusively by any stretch) demographic for the woodshow would also overlap V8 aficionados, even more potential visitors are dragged away.

I don’t know what the crowds were like on Saturday or Sunday, but I sure hope for the exhibitors’ sake that it was better than Friday.  I remember wood shows of old (especially in the early-mid 2000s) when crowds were so deep that the place pulsed with the enthusiasm of all present.

I didn’t find any timber for sale.  I might have missed a small pocket of sales (outside?), but the only sales I could see were some long strips of veneer.  Some really nice strips, if you want veneer.

This, after all is what was promised.

The Timber & Working With Wood Show is Australia’s premier event for woodworking. From the weekend hobbyist and home DIY’er through to the most experienced enthusiasts, this is a show you cannot miss! See the best in the industry, share their expertise, have fun trying new techniques and tools – and experience some of the world’s finest timbers… all at the one location!

Can the wood show come back from this point?  I don’t think so.  Unless there is some plan for a small show one year, and a massive one the next (and nothing like that has been communicated), then I think the only way we will get to a show of any substance in the future at this stage is to head to the WIA in Las Vegas in 2017.

If the industry (suppliers) have any interest in future wood shows, I think they all need to come together and organise a new model.  1 show a year in the entire country.  One year in Sydney, the next in Brisbane, then Melbourne, then Perth, then Hobart, Adelaide, Darwin and back to Sydney again.  Pricing for exhibitors needs to be really affordable, to justify their efforts in attending the show.  Pricing for visitors also needs to be really affordable – the show needs bodies to attend, and spend.  Charge $10 max, and free for anyone under 18.  Under 18s need to be encouraged, as they will become the woodworkers (and consumers) of the future, so sewing the seed that woodworking is a worthy pursuit to be passionate about will pay off in spades in 10-20 years time.  Especially since we’d want as many people to attend from interstate each each annual show.  That is absolutely not to say that regional woodshows (such as Ballarat) shouldn’t still run annually – we need them more than ever now.

Anyway, this is all just my opinion.  Not everyone will agree with me.  I hope the show was a win for everyone.  I just can’t see, with the cost of exhibition space, the lack of visitors, and the lack of exhibitors how it would have been.

I miss the spectacle of a real wood show already.  And on that happy note, I’ll sign off here.  I’ll touch on what I did find at the show in upcoming posts.

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