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.]
G. L. Pease
Not really. Actually, it was some joker in the airport who decided to sneeze and cough all over everyone in sight that made me sick. But, it happened in Kansas City, and it made you look.
I’ve been back from the KC show for a few weeks, now, and I am still having wonderful flashbacks from my extended weekend there. It’s true that I spent a full ten days with the most tenacious cough and body-ache inducing case of the flu I’ve ever experienced, something I attribute to the heartiness of the corn-fed mid-western viruses, but it’s mostly behind me, now, I seem to have survived the ordeal adequately, and I certainly am not going to let it dampen the spirit of the show that welcomely accompanied me home. In short, I had a fantastic time. I ate far too much, drank a little too much (or, so I’m told, which may be an indication that it’s actually true), smoked too much and laughed a lot, and when the totting up is done, it was all fully worth it. What follows are a few random observations and experiences of the show. There’s no way I could do a thorough report, as it’s still sort of whirlwind blur swirling in my brain, but Kevin did a great job of that already in his show report, so read it for more reportage.
In the past, when I’ve used different types of community-type websites, such as; forums, dating sites (yep, I admit it), social media, etc.—one of the things I would say to introduce myself in my profile is, "Having fun is something I take very seriously." I like the irony in the actual truth of that statement. That assertion also seems to be true of The Greater Kansas City Pipe Club. The last full weekend in June, (June 22-24, 2012) was my second, and the club’s 13th annual show. After experiencing two of their shows, and additionally spending time with Kansas City club members at other shows, I am reminded of my statement that declares a strong resolve to have a good time.
How to describe the Chicago Pipe Show? A lot of different words come to mind: pipes, of course, but great times with friends, some that you never even knew before you arrived, wonderful conversation, and one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I was warned by Brad Pohlmann before I even attended the show that it would be Sunday night before I knew it. He was right, but after looking forward to the show for months, I enjoyed every moment of it and formed some memories that I know will last a lifetime, not to mention acquiring some really gorgeous "memorabilia".
Chris P. Bacon
In the fall of 2005, a post on the Pipe and Tobacco Collector’s Blog sounded an alarm about the “demise of the pipe show” which, in the context of a somewhat standard gripe session about the state of pipe shows as a whole, made a provocative and impressive claim that predicted a coming storm accurately. The post stated that pipe shows, in overemphasizing the retail aspect of their gatherings, had become mere marketplaces, and this transformation dissolved the important yet somewhat intangible communal aspect upon which, at least anecdotally, the entire pipe community was based. Aside from striking gold in the mid-2000’s with a substantial lucrative boom in high-end pipe sales brought about by an influx of artisan carvers earlier in the decade, the pipe shows had nothing to show for decades of development and were in danger of becoming unexciting flea-markets, its visitors disengaged from the fact that, beyond the buying and selling, there was something missing, something important and communal and real.
By Kevin Godbee
Richmond Virginia is steeped in tobacco history and tradition, and that makes it a great location for an exposition dedicated to pipes and tobacco. The second weekend of October was the 27th year in a row that the C.O.R.P.S Exposition & Celebration was held. It’s quite impressive, and no small feat to have a show catering to pipe smokers with a 27-year history.
C.O.R.P.S. stands for Conclave of Richmond Pipe Smokers. They are one of the largest pipe clubs and have been based in Richmond since 1984. This year the show changed venues from the Holiday Inn to the more posh surroundings of the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa. The hotel is in the Richmond area, but technically, the actual town is Short Pump, VA.