It's rare these days that anything lives up to, much less exceeds, the hype, but the 2015 DC Pen Show did for me.
Thursday started off smoothly for Jeff and I, meeting at the Atlanta airport around 7:30 for our 9:45 flight. Things couldn't have gone any better on the flight, with the only hiccup being us not knowing what level the hotel shuttle was on when we arrived in Dulles. Luckily the driver was late, so by the time we sorted it out he had just arrived and got us to the hotel shortly after 1:00.
The hotel atrium was already buzzing with activity but we were starving, so after check-in and several hellos and hugs with people who beat us to the show (I'm looking at you Thomas and Leigh!) we were off to find lunch. One of the nice things about the show hotel - the Sheraton at Tyson's Corner - is the convenience to everything you need for your stay within a few hundred yards of the hotel. Restaurants especially, with a slew of great ethnic dining choices. Over the long weekend we ate Indian, Thai, Japanese, Greek, various noodle bowls, and burgers, all never more than a few steps away.
Once properly nourished, we headed back over to the hotel to jump into the fray. Thursday is a scheduled trading day, with vendors staking claims to any open tables they could find. There were more than enough set up to keep us occupied for several hours. I even spied an Ernest Shin Bokashi Ishime no Tamenuri, who's work I had never seen in person, displayed nicely alongside several Danitrios at Sarj Minhas' table.
"Yeah," I thought, "this is going to be a good show."
I didn't even bother asking the price of the pen from Sarj. I had a ballpark idea, but it was Thursday afternoon and I had an entire weekend left to shop. Pace yourself! The rest of the afternoon was spent mingling and meeting, catching up with friends old and new, and grabbing dinner and drinks. The bar would become the epicenter of activity for the evening time, with several of us closing it down the first three nights around 1:00 am. Short sleep hours were definitely in play on this trip.
When Friday rolled around I wanted to get the lay of the land of the full show setup. And what a setup it was. I had only attended the Atlanta Pen Show in the past, and DC was several times larger than Atlanta. Five to six times larger maybe? And that may be selling it short still. It's as huge as people say it is.
The highlight of my day was seeing Kaoru from Bung Box set her table up. And only 30 feet or so behind Vanness Pens, which is where Jeff and I were slinging Nock Co. gear between walking around the show. The Bung Box table was packed immediately, so when I saw a break in the action I headed over for what I knew would be my first purchases of the show.