- Convention Report-2023 by Richard Giardini
- The 2023 Westlake convention is in the
books. As promised it was a great time to reconnect with our
fellow collector friends, meet a few new friends, and at the
same time obtain some amazing new matchcovers for our collections.
Unfortunately, Joe DeGennaro who usually prepares this recap
of the convention was unable to attend for the first time in
I dont know how long. Hopefully, I can paint a decent picture
for our members who were unable to attend. For the 105 members
who were there (four first timers), I am sure you have plenty
of memories of your own from a fantastic week!
- As usual, Sunday started out calmly with
attendees meeting in the lobby while we waited for the rooms
to become available. We took advantage of the time to discuss
the past year, as well as what could be expected from the coming
week and how the auctions would work. Several members volunteered
their time prepping the convention bags for each attendee so
registration could commence Sunday night. The highlights of Sunday
as usual were the loaded grab tables and ten dealer tables that
teemed with features and other offerings. Features seemed to
be a popular theme this year as many dealers had a good selection
at various prices.
- Monday saw the convention activity level
ramp up with a silent auction in the morning as the majority
of attendees arrived, registered and dove into adding to their
collections. The freebie tables were the place to be on Monday.
Not only is it great fun to rummage through mounds of matchcovers
and boxes looking for that cover you would love to add to your
collection, but the grab table is where you really get to spend
time talking to your fellow collectors. It is also a tradition
that collectors also search for covers in other collectors categories,
which is a special sort of camaraderie that exists in our hobby.
In addition, Denise McKinney had the annual scavenger hunt from
the grab tables with collectors searching for various animals
from her list on matchcovers. Nothing was quite like the excitement
of finding a jackalope or beaver on a matchcover to complete
your hunt. Monday night was wrapped up by a friendly game of
bingo led by nationally renowned bingo caller, Bob Hofacker.
Lots of nice matchcovers were donated to be distributed as prizes.
- The Tuesday silent auction included some
beautiful covers, but two Diamond covers from the late 1800s
were the gems of the auction. And they went for top dollar with
a winning bid of $250 for the two covers!! From there, we moved
into the regular auctions, four in total from Tuesday to Friday,
that provided some wonderful lots and bids that were in general
higher than in recent years. It seems that collectors are willing
to spend a little more for what they want, especially when the
prices are still far below anything seen on EBay or Facebook.
It is also apparent that collectors are realizing that there
are bidders who have interest in selling covers on EBay and are
willing to pay a fair price for the covers. So, when collectors
see what they want, they need to be willing to pay for it or
face the future of overpaying online for the cover they needed
for their favorite category. We had 65 bidders that contributed
to the excellent proceeds that will both keep the club operating
in the black while providing some spending money for the members
who provided up to fifteen lots each.
- Tuesday night featured a dessert social
with a selection of cakes that were downright evil in their rich
flavors. As with all events, there was plenty of socializing
to be had with fun for all who attended. The week was also filled
with various small club meetings that allow these specialty clubs
to assemble and share their favorite categories with likeminded
collectors that are scattered across the country the rest of
the year. The Girlie Club, Casino Club, Big Boy Club, Tobacco
Club and all the other clubs are able to hold their annual meeting
at the convention. However, only the Mermaid/Pirate club holds
their meetings at the pool, giving them a certain special status.
- Throughout the week the display room was
open featuring 88 fantastic displays created by 21 different
collectors. The artistic talents and amazing covers are always
entertaining and a must see if you have never attended a convention
before. The room even kept my wife and sister-in-law entertained
for quite awhile, and they are far from matchcover collecting
fans. Each member is allowed to vote for Peoples Choice,
a special honor bestowed by our peers. This years winner
was a great display of Ivy League Rivals created by Herb Sperry.
The official judges use slightly different criteria and selected
the Best of Show to be Chinese Crowns by Rich Greene, which was
also a great display with fantastic covers.
- Thursday morning featured the annual business
meeting, a chance for people to yell or discuss the issues facing
the club and hobby. It is a nice moment to honor the members
who have attained a special status in the hobby as well as those
who have passed away in the past year. There was some important
business facing the club which was discussed, including a much
needed update to the bylaws, the wording of which is still being
finalized as I type this. Also contentious is finding a solution
to the quandary regarding dues equity for those receiving a newsletter
via email versus in print. Currently it costs over $15/year to
print and mail newsletters within the US. The cost increases
substantially internationally to the point that Canadian/international
dues dont even cover the newsletter expenses. The dues
discussion was tabled for another year while additional financial
data is collected so a proper long term solution can be found.
But as always, the highlight of the business meeting was the
selection of next years convention site. There were four
hotels proposed located in Pittsburgh PA, Branson MO (2), and
Erlanger KY. The votes were spread out relatively evenly between
the options, so we used ranked choice voting to eliminate the
hotels one by one. Finally, in the end, Erlanger won out and
will host next years convention. I am sure you will see
plenty of details over the coming year about the details.
The week wrapped up with 59 collectors attending the banquet
on Friday night. A cash bar followed by a very good buffet meal
led up to the awards presentation for all the various display
awards presented by RMS and local clubs. Then the big announcements
for the hall of fame and collector of the year were announced.
These are extremely special awards for RMS members, so it was
exciting to have Bill Evans selected for the Hall of Fame, and
Pat Mains selected as Collector of the year! Congratulations
to both of them.
- A special shout out is in order for all
the volunteers that kept the convention running smoothly and
let the attendees enjoy such an amazing week. Please consider
volunteering yourself in the future as the hobby runs and succeeds
on the backs of our volunteers.
- If you missed it, please start planning
now for next years convention. I have made every convention
for the past twenty years, and wish I had been able to start
attending before that. It is an event I would not miss. Where
else can I get so many great covers while spending time with
my fellow collecting friends. Not only do you have the collecting
events, but the week is filled with late nights outside the hotel
sipping Crown Royal, playing cards with those high penny stakes,
or organizing a car pool to attend a nearby restaurant for dinner
with friends. So I will see you all next year in Erlanger, and
will look forward to meeting some of you for the first time!!!
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