by John Olenick, guest blogger
One evening in March of 1991, eight amateur woodworkers from upstate New York met to discuss the possibility of forming an organization dedicated to woodworking. A short time later, the Northeast Woodworkers Association was formed –an ambitious name for a group with only a few members!
By the end of that year, it was decided to hold a judged woodworking show with the goal of establishing camaraderie and increasing membership. With the cooperation of a local lumber store, NWA held its first public “Woodworking EXPO,” which drew 290 entries and 2,000 visitors. The event ignited the passions of local woodworkers and NWA membership grew rapidly. By 1994 the lumber store could no longer house the show, prompting a move to a local high school. By the following year it was clear that NWA had again outgrown its space. So this non-profit, volunteer-run organization took a momentous risk and secured the Saratoga Springs City Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. The gamble paid off: The 2-day show featured 526 woodworking exhibits and drew over 6000 visitors.
25 years after its founding, the show’s success continues. Renamed the “NWA Showcase,” the event now occupies over 75,000 sq. ft. of the Saratoga Springs City Center, and has become one of the largest woodworking shows in the country. In 2016, the show will be held on April 2 and 3. For more information, go to www.nwawoodworkingshow.org.
What makes the NWA Showcase unique is that only one quarter of the floor space is dedicated to vendors selling tools, accessories and supplies. The remaining area includes exhibit space for all kinds of woodworking –furniture, sculpture, carving, scrollwork, intarsia, marquetry, musical instruments and more. Floor space is also allocated for special exhibits, such as musical instrument construction and live demonstrations on carving, turning, and making toys (which are handed out to children in attendance). For an entrance fee of $10, show goers can also attend presentations by woodworking celebrities. Past presenters have included Garrett Hack, Ian Kirby, Frank Klauz, David Marks, Roy Underwood, Ernie Conover, and Phil Lowe.
Whether you’re an avid woodworker or someone who appreciates fine design, good craftsmanship and entertaining exhibits, you’re sure to enjoy this year’s “best-ever” NWA Showcase. Come and help the NWA celebrate 25 years of camaraderie among woodworkers! Proceeds from the show fund the organization, which includes the Fiske Fund, a separate educational arm of NWA established in memory of Mylan Fiske, a founding member. The fund provides financial grants to NWA members seeking to expand their woodworking skills through attendance at various woodworking schools.