I was on the road by 6am with a full tank of gas and a drive-thru breakfast. I drove four hours straight without stopping while watching the sun rise through the clouds. I couldn't wait to get there. It was easy to find the Benton Convention Center and parking was free! (It's the little things.)
My main purpose for attending the conference was to meet fellow YouTube woodworking video creators. So, instead of paying to attend classes, I purchased the $8 ticket to get into the Marketplace where all of my online woodworking buddies were hanging out. I'm really glad WIA had this less expensive option for people like me who just want to meet people and browse.
Thanks to Sterling and Austin Davis for this great photo!
Left to Right: Jack Houweling, Izzy Swan, Brian Grella, Steve Ramsey, Laney Shaughnessy, Steve French, Sterling Davis, David Picciuto, Me, Bob Clagett
Not pictured: Matt Cremona, Matt Vanderlist, Tim Charles, Mike Merzke, Leh Meriwether, Chris Wong, Jason Rausch, Chris Adkins, Tom Iovino
(I'm still trying to remember everybody. Please remind me if I missed you.)
As soon as I walked in, I saw the one and only Steve Ramsey of Woodworking for Mere Mortals. After meeting Steve, I started walking around the marketplace to look for more familiar faces. It seemed like every time I turned a corner, I ran into another one of my YouTube woodworking friends. Up until this moment, they were all pixel people on my computer screen and now they were real live 3D people!
Suddenly, that event became something bigger and better - the marketplace became a meeting place, a gathering place. I got to meet many of my favorite woodworkers in person, plus I got to meet a lot of my subscribers and viewers. I was surprised at how may people recognized me from my videos. I even got to share a Mellow Mushroom pizza with Steve Ramsey and Izzy Swan! How cool is that?!
The day flew by so quickly and I didn't see much of the marketplace, but I did stop by the Peachtree Woodworking Supply booth to talk to my peeps from the Atlanta store where our Gwinnett Woodworkers Association meets. Fellow Gwinnett Woodworker Ron Brown was there and he always has awesome new woodturning stuff that makes me want to turn more than just pens.
After the conference, we all walked over to the District Rooftop Bar for Steve Ramsey's Mega Me-Mo Meet-Up! I had a great time talking with Steve and my online woodworking friends, as well as spending quality time with my viewers. I took lots of selfies!
This is Chris. He watches my videos and he is also a fellow Woodworker/Musician, so we had a lot to talk about.
Since I drove my car instead of flying, I was able to bring some of my favorite projects with me, like my wooden sandwich, tongue drum, and pocket hole lamp. At the end of the night, I brought them up to the rooftop bar for people to check out. I think they liked seeing my video projects in person. I even got Laney Shaughnessy and Steve Ramsey to sign my Whac-A-Woodworker Whirligig!
As the bar was closing and people began walking back to their hotels, I was loading my projects back into my car and I realized that I'd just had a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one of the best days ever. Most likely, the chances are slim that this group of woodworkers will be able to meet up again due to logistics, but I hope we can someday! Maybe in the future Woodworking In America will include a session for YouTube woodworkers...That would be awesome!
Have you ever felt like you were doing what you were meant to do, at the right time, in the right place, and with the right people? It's hard to explain, but that's what it felt like. I'm already looking forward to the next meet up!