Back on the 11th of November, IPMS Butch O'Hare held their annual event. This contest is held in the southern Chicago metro area near Darien, IL and is, for many of us, the last event of the year. It was held in a Middle School's gymnasium as it has been for all the years I've attended.
Butch O'Hare provides event information on the web and also sends out mailings to those who attended the previous year. This mailing includes a flyer and an entry form for those who wish to copy it and then fill out all the info prior to arriving. Since Butch O'Hare uses the very sensible and popular 'AMPS' style judging, there are only general categories provided.
The entry fee was $12 and that got you in with 5 entries included in the price. Last year it was unlimited entries and it may well be why there were visibly fewer models on the tables. At least, there were only five display tables when last year it seemed there were more.
This additional space was used to make more room between tables in the vendors area, though it did little for the congestion around the models. This was especially true when someone was 'holding court' around his model to explain to anyone who cared to listen all about it.
Anyway, I'd had my forms filled out earlier and registration was a breeze, though there were plenty of tables for folks to fill out forms. The registration folks had done this a zillion times before so either way, it was a quick process.
Next stop was the raffle table. Tickets were $1 each or 6 for $5. There were well over 200 prizes being offered and to paraphrase a comedy routine, "raffles were very, very good to me". Drawings were held four times during the day with the winner pulling a ticket from a box and then that was matched to a specific award. There was a table selling sodas, but without any ice. Needless to say, few were sold until someone decided it would be a good idea to get some.
Then on to the contest/vendors room. Both are in the same gymnasium and since the club had added another row of tables in anticipation of a large turn-out, things were extremely crowded. In many cases it was impossible to get down the rows in the vendors area due to the blockage by patrons (many of whom are, shall I say, large). Though I realize that the cost may be too much, the organizers really need to think about renting out the second gym to provide more room for vendors. The additional cost could well be amortized by the additional vendors as I know they ran out of tables/space somewhat early on.
Unlike last year, there was no problem with thieves, with a few of the vendors arranging their tables to prevent people from walking off with stuff or bringing additional help. There were also some absentees, something I'd not seen before at Butch O'hare. Possibly the weather as some areas had snow the night before. Regardless, the bargains were there if you were looking and I managed to come home with a few kits I was seeking.
Though judging could have started right away, they did wait until near lunch time to do so, probably due to the fewer models to judge. I should mention that one of our group was commenting that the flyer stated "unlimited awards" and that was obviously not the case as quite a few modelers went home empty-handed. It seemed as if the smaller the category the fewer the awards. I might suggest not using that phrase in next year's flyer
The last thing of the day was the awards ceremony. This was run differently from previous years as people were called up and given their awards, but unless one won a gold, one had no clue as to what the award was for. It only takes a few minutes to mention the subject for which the award was won and since the ceremony was shorter than the norm, I don't think anyone would have minded staying an extra few minutes.
Overall, I have to say that I enjoyed the show. There were lots of goodies at the vendors table and I bought many things I didn't need. The raffle was excellent and very well run. To me it was the highlight of the event. I've gotten used to rude Chicagoans over the years, but as people seem to get larger every year, their barging around without an 'excuse me' to be heard, makes even more of an impact.
If you live within a few hundred miles of Chicago, you really should consider attending next year.