2014 Chicago Pipe Show…What had happened was…

Kevin Godbee
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.

So many things happen at the show, with some events overlapping, that it is impossible for one person to experience it all. We have two stories previously published, Defining Infinity, and New Products from The 2014 Chicago Pipe Show, where you can learn about what happened at the show. In addition, I would like to fill you in a little bit more by giving you my account of "What Had Happened …"

The official show days for the general public are Saturday and Sunday. However, activities actually start on Wednesday, and some industry folks actually arrive and conduct a little business as early as Tuesday. (I did this back in 2010.) I arrived on Thursday this year, and departed on Monday morning, which is what I usually do.

On Wednesday and Thursday, there is a pipe-making seminar that is always sold out. Several well-known, experienced artisan pipe makers help students learn how to make pipes, and each person leaves with a pipe that they made themselves. I’ve seen some pretty impressive ones too. On these days, there is also much trading, buying and selling going on in the hotel rooms.

By Thursday night, there are probably already a couple hundred people there, and the smoking tent fills up with the revelry of smoking, drinking, showing of pipes, and saying hello to friends (some that we only see once a year at the show.) This year, there was a cigar-themed event in the tent with cigar vendors, appetizers, and steel drum music. It was a free event where you only had to buy your drinks, and cigars if you wanted them. I decided to smoke my pipes all night.

Brian Levine of Brigham USA and Mike McNeil of McClelland Tobacco Co. discuss a tin of tobacco. Photo: Fred Brown

A tin of Craven Mixture is under discussion by Brian Levine and Mike McNeil. Photo: Fred Brown

On Friday, there was the “Smoke and Swap” in the 6,000 square foot smoking tent. There were 80 tables with all kinds of new artisan pipes, estate pipes and vintage tobaccos for trade or sale. Last year, I went a little overboard and bought 12 pipes over the course of the weekend. So this year, I was trying to not buy anything. So far, I made it through Friday without succumbing.

Thomas D. Dinelli, Treasurer of United Pipe Clubs of America, mans the table for the Daughters & Ryan tins for the UPCA slow-smoking contest. Photo: Fred Brown

Friday afternoon, I attended the United Pipe Clubs of America annual meeting. We discussed ways to help promote and support pipe clubs. Mark Ryan won an award for his contribution to the hobby for saving Perique tobacco from extinction. There was also discussion about the recent FDA moves towards regulating pipe tobacco.

Another Friday tradition is a free dinner buffet provided by The Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club and The Sutliff Tobacco Company. It is actually quite an impressive offering. The food is high quality, and it includes entrees of fish, chicken, pasta dishes, and excellent desserts. There were probably about 500 people that filled up on great food for free. Sutliff Tobacco provided hundreds of tins of free tobacco as well. (We need more dinners like this.)

Enjoying the CPCC Welcome dinner. Photo: Fred Brown

Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club Dinner crowd. Photo: Fred Brown

Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club Dinner crowd. Photo: Fred Brown

Chicagoland Pipe Collectors Club Dinner crowd. Photo: Fred Brown

Friday night after dinner, I thoroughly enjoyed Rick Newcombe’s film and talk about "Pipe Smoking in the Movies", which ran from 9 – 10pm. Then, from 10:30 – 11:30 pm, we had the PipesMagazine.com panel with Brian Levine, Fred Brown, Russ Ouellette, Mike Garr, and Steve Morrisette – moderated by myself. (Next year, we will do our presentation / discussion in one of the rooms inside. It was too loud in the smoking tent.)

Kevin Godbee, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of PipesMagazine.com, chats with a show “fan.” Photo: Fred Brown

PipesMagazine panelists Russ Ouellette, foreground, and Steve Morrisette, PM columnist, answer questions after the panel discussion. Photo: Fred Brown

The really big show kicked off in The Mega Center on Saturday. There were 300 tables with every single type of pipes and tobaccos you could imagine, and some that you probably couldn’t imagine. (Trust me.)

I almost made it through Saturday without buying a pipe, but then I saw this new 2013 Dunhill Group 3 Cumberland with Sterling Silver band. I smoked it on Saturday night while enjoying several Maker’s Marks on the rocks.

2013 Dunhill Cumberland Pipe with Sterling Silver Band – the Latest Addition to Kevin Godbee’s Collection

In addition to Dunhill, one of my other favorite brands is Comoy. So I couldn’t resist buying the new book; Comoy Blue Ribands by Neill Archer Roan. It has some great photos of Comoy pipes, and Neill wrote a really nice note in my book.

Display case of Neill Archer Roan’s fabulous collection of Comoy Blue Riband pipes. Photo: Fred Brown

In the early evening on Saturday, I attended the Seattle Pipe Club’s cocktail party. The 2-story loft was filled to capacity with pipe smoking, drinks and appetizers. I graciously accepted their request to be the keynote speaker for their annual meeting in January 2015. (Now I know why Matt Guss was insistent on me attending the party.)

Then, it was off to the Pipe and Cigar Banquet. This is a $65 dinner, limited to the first 150 people. It is well worth the price. The food is excellent, including filet mignon – and with all of the cigars, tobaccos and other items in the goody bags, you receive much more than you actually paid for.

There are also two awards for the Doctors of Pipes presented at the Saturday night dinner. Basically, you have to have been involved in the hobby or business for at least 10-years, and have made a substantial contribution to the growth of the hobby. This year’s inductees were Craig Cobine, President of the Chicago Pipe Show (on the hobby side) and Arron Sissom of Music City Marketing, importer of Dunhill and several other prominent brands.

Michael Reschke (L), Craig Cobine (C), Frank Burla (R). Photo: Fred Brown

Frank Burla (L), Arron Sissom (C), Craig Cobine (R). Photo: Fred Brown

On Sunday, there was the the slow Smoke Competition, which we will have separate coverage on soon. This is where I acquired my 2nd pipe of the weekend. As part of the competition, everyone gets the same pipe make and model to help create a level playing field. This was my 3rd time competing, and my favorite competition pipe so far. The entry fee was $40. You get the pipe, tobacco and tamper. This is a gorgeous pipe for $40 – Designed by Claudio Cavicchi. Produced by Luciano of Italian briar. Apple shape, Sandblasted with Lucite Saddlebit Stem.

Claudio Cavicchi. Produced by Luciano of Italian briar. Apple shape, Sandblasted with Lucite Saddlebit Stem.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t win. My time was 33 minutes, 5 seconds, landing me in 72nd place of 86 participants. To be honest, I don’t really try to win, and if I did, I probably still wouldn’t. I just do it for the fun and camaraderie.

Near the end of the day on Sunday, I couldn’t resist buying this Jürgen Moritz pipe.

I spent the rest of the time smoking, eating, drinking and talking to people. On Sunday night, I took the guys from the PipesMagazine.com panel, excluding Russ, because he had to leave, to dinner at Harvest. David Bull from the UPCA came along as well. Harvest is the nicest restaurant in the resort. Brian snapped this picture of me taking a picture of my food.

On the way back to the smoking tent after dinner, we saw what the Mega Center looks like when it is empty.


Kevin Godbee is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of Pipes Magazine. Kevin started smoking pipes and cigars in 1998 and started an online cigar magazine & community site in 2005. (The site was acquired in 2008 and no longer exists.) He launched PipesMagazine.com in 2009, and in less than three years the site became the largest trafficked pipe smoking related site, and the #1 Source for Pipes and Pipe Tobacco Information.

In the beginning of his career, Kevin worked in the hobby and specialty toy business for 16 years in sales, marketing, advertising and product development for three different manufacturers, and with his own company.

Over the last 13 years working in the online business, he has become an expert in Internet Marketing and SEO. Kevin is a Certified Master Tobacconist (CMT) through Tobacconist University, a member of Cigar Rights of America and is a "Media Member" of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association. In his spare time he sings, plays guitar, cooks, and enjoys all the wonderful places to go and things to do in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, Florida where he lives in his penthouse bachelor pad. Kevin has been smoking pipes and cigars for 15 years.


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16 Responses

  • Very nice Kevin. Thank you for the insite and pics. I hope to be able to make it to the show one day.

  • Great write up. Thanks for very few pipe pics. I have had enough pipe envy from that show, to last me a while. Lol

  • Wonderful article! Good job Kevin. Hope to be able to be there with you and everyone else next year.

  • Looks like I photobombed you at the Harvest Restaurant, Kevin. You should look over your shoulder, you don’t know what you will find, especially in Chicago.

  • Thank you so much for sharing the experience in such complete and concise manner. Through your eyes, and the other contributors here, I feel like I have been to the show myself

  • Kevin that was a great read and the opics are awesome, Thanks for the time to write this.

  • Thanks for the article and pics Kevin. Sounds like a blast! I don’t know how many UK attendees you get, but Mrs Stewart has kindly agreed that I can pay for us to come along next year. Saving the pennies to spend and counting the days!

  • I’m that “FAN”
    awesome meeting you and it was a wonderful show. Thank you for the good conversation

  • What an excellent show summary Kevin. That Dunhill Cumberland was a fine choice as well. I’m hoping to make it to Chicago next year, it looks too good to miss again!

  • Kevin,
    Great recount it was impossible to cover all the activities even though you and I shared some of the same aspects I now know some new things to try next year.
    This was my first pipe show so I feel like I picked the correct show to make my first. Much like you I enjoyed the friday evening activities more than expected. But really learned a lot from all the great exhibiters in the show.

  • Still lamenting that I couldn’t make it out this year. Great write-up, it’s (almost) like being there!