I think only one word can sum up the 15th Annual Kansas City Pipe Show that happened June 21st through 22nd 2014 and that word is "awesomesauce."
You see this was my first ever pipe show to attend and I had no idea what to expect…except from the talk about how much fun people had at Chicago or similar shows.
Another forum member, Msandoval858 and I, chose to drive 10 hours from Austin, TX to Kansas City, MO for the show. From the moment we arrived the schedule was jam-packed with things going on, people to see and talk to, and food to try. I could hardly keep up, but I took a few pictures, and I’ll try to fill you in on how it went.
CHICAGO—Well, the 2014 Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana Show is in the history books. There are some left over stories that are just begging to be told. So, here we go:
If you have never been to the show, you owe it to yourself and to your love of pipes and tobacco to put it on the bucket list. You won’t be sorry.
One of the neatest stories at the show was Odalys Gonzales of The Gonzalez Family Cigars. Odalys, 42, is from Cuba and has been in Hialeah, Fla., for about 15 years hand-rolling cigars.
The Chicagoland International Pipe and Tobacciana Show recently completed it’s 18th run. It was my 5th year in a row attending, the most fun I’ve had there, and largest crowd I’ve ever seen at the show. (I believe they had record attendance.) The show is commonly referred to simply as "The Chicago Pipe Show", since attendees from all over the world fly into Chicago O’Hare International, or Chicago Midway airport to get there. Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles IL, where the show is held, is about a 45 - 60 minute drive southwest of the airport. Limo or taxi rides can be had for around $100 each way, or you can rent a car like I do, if you want the chance for a little more freedom to roam outside of the resort.
CHICAGO—The spectacular 18th Annual Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana Show is in the history books, but fun for the pipe smoker is just beginning. After five-point-two days at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Ill., frazzled sleep-deprived vendors and bedraggled retailers, packed it in and headed home. The news is this: If you are looking for innovation, new products, some exciting boutique and small batch blends, 2014 is your year.
Most of the blenders and pipe manufacturers at the Chicago show who are major sponsors of PipesMagazine.com all reported that new products either are in the starting gate ready to be released or are in the works for the future.
CHICAGO—First, you have to realize that you have not died and gone to pipe heaven, and that this experience is real and there are pipes and tobaccos as far as the eye can see. You can actually touch them, pick them up, and grab some free tobacco samples. And that is only one of the more than 300 tables lined with rows of pipes of every shape and design. It is pipes and tobacco mecca.
I’m talking about the 18th Annual Chicagoland International Pipe and Tobacciana Show held in the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Ill.
Fortunately for me, Grant and Chris were running uncharacteristically late, as I was frantically rushing about trying to finish packing, leaving feeding instructions so Sammy D and Kate didn’t starve and fighting the nagging sense that I was forgetting something. The three of us heard that last year’s inaugural pipe makers meet up at Smoker’s Haven was a fun bash and highly informative for all the attendees.
Never ones to miss a good party twice, pipe maker Grant Batson, Chris Merkle, the perpetual force behind Southern Fried Pipe Club and myself had decided we should make the six hour road trip from Nashville to Columbus, Ohio for the 2nd Annual Pipe Makers Forum Midwest Meet Up created and hosted by Premal Cheda, at his great shop; Smoker’s Haven.
I have been agonizing over how to start this article for days. What was there to say about the Kansas City pipe show that hadn’t already been said, or would be found in other outlets? Following closely after the Chicago show, one may think it possible for the KC show to be overshadowed by the windy city—this is not the case, not by a long shot. Sure there are fewer tables, and slightly fewer pipes, but certainly the enthusiasm and camaraderie suffered none for it. The Greater Kansas City Pipe Club really knows how to put on a show, and it’s getting better every year. The members of the GKCPC have brought a lot of professionalism to their passion, and it really makes the presentation shine. Guests were treated to a clockwork schedule of events, excellent accommodation at the Doubletree hotel, and the warm welcome extended by the club’s members.
Since the summer of 2011, I’ve been anxiously waiting to make the trek to St. Charles, IL for the Chicago Pipe Show. My dreams of tables filled with beautiful pipes and vintage tobaccos was shattered when my good friend informed me of his wedding date, May 5, 2012. I couldn’t believe it! Our trip to Mecca, THE Chicago Pipe Show, had been whisked away by his charming bride-to-be. Happy anniversary Dan & Jennifer, I still love you guys. I have had plenty of time to contemplate exactly what to expect at the show and this year it would finally be realized, my first Chicago Pipe Show. It was at the 2012 NASPC Swap/Sell Pipe Show in Columbus, OH where I met Frank Burla from the Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club. After chatting about our time in the military and aviation, the conversation came to the 2013 Chicagoland International Pipe and Tobacciana Show and the two-day Pipe Making Seminar. Here’s my report.
How does one describe the Chicago show? Superlatives are easy to pile on, and most of them try to encompass the fact that it’s big, really big. Make that really, really big. It’s awe-inspiring to see so many thousands of pipes, fresh from the maker’s hands or vintage estates; it’s heady to be surrounded by clouds of smoke from hundreds of happy puffers; and it’s just a whole lot of fun to be around folks who are as fanatical as I am about pipes and tobacciana. This was my first trip to the Big Show, and the way I’ll always think of it, the essence of it for me, is that it is all about making connections.
On Tuesday, I was so excited! My mind is racing … I am finally done with work and vacation starts tomorrow! The smoking tent opens at noon! All the events of the 2013 Chicago Pipe Show are going to start unfolding tomorrow! If I go to bed early, will it start sooner? Wait, that last statement is what my kids said on Christmas Eve, when they were much younger.
Everything was ready for my drive to St Charles. Beyond some pipes and other supplies, I also had almost a hundred tampers that I have turned. They were neatly packed in special containers, sitting next to the front door (true), and the shop is swept up and all tools placed in their assigned spot (not so true). Last year I sold several tampers during the Friday Swap and Smoke event. This year I had more tampers and some other items for sale. Based off of last year’s experience, I made changes to designs and hoped for better sales.
Wednesday finally arrived. I landed in St Charles to find that Main Street is under significant destruction. The four lane road was down to two and they moved back and forth, winding between the different areas being replaced. Illinois often tears up the old concrete, grinds it on site for material to make the new road. It was not just a ride, it was an adventure.
[Editor's note: A slight slip of the wheel would land you in a four foot deep ditch for about a 1-mile stretch.]