Beadfest Philadelphia – a review

Every year for the past six years, I have gathered up what feels like half my tools and headed north to Beadfest Philadelphia.  I always sign up for a few classes (hence the tools).  This year I took a class called “Treasure Chest of Components” with Debora Mauser and a torch enameling class with Steven James.  Each of these will get their own post later on.

The event has been held at the Valley Forge Convention Center for the past few years, but it had to be moved to the Oaks Expo Center due to construction at the Convention Center.  Of course we were all worried about the switch.  You know how we humans react to change.  Would the pipe-and-drapes for the classrooms work out?  What about the shuttle bus from the hotel?  What about our favorite vendors?

You’ll be happy to know it worked out fine.  The Expo Center is so big that they were able to leave ample space between the “classrooms”.  While you could hear hammering from neighboring classes, you couldn’t hear much of anything else, so I didn’t have any trouble hearing my teachers.

The show floor was large enough to have all of the vendors on the same floor, which was not the case at the Convention Center.  I know all the vendors from the lower level of the Convention Center were thrilled to be on the same level, because they are convinced that no one came to see them downstairs (not true; no self-respecting bead shopper would fail to penetrate to the farthest reaches of a show in hopes of snagging just one more must-have item).

The one drawback was that the concrete floor was hard on the ol’ tootsies.  While carpet was put down in the showroom aisles, that was not the case in the classrooms, so comfortable, padded shoes were a must.  I highly recommend Keds sneakers, a pair of which saw me through three days of standing at Theodora’s booth last year, and through four days of shopping and classes this year.

Since the Expo Center does not have an attached hotel, we had to alter our usual pattern a bit, as we could not just dash up to our rooms to pick up and drop off stuff.  A local bead society provided a bag check for $2, which allowed us to leave our tool totes with them while we shopped, without having to return to the hotel to get our things for classes.  This was a really good idea, because between waiting for the shuttle and the six-mile drive, a lot of time could have been wasted.  That’s time that could be spent bead-shopping, people.

I hear tell that Beadfest will be at the Oaks Expo Center again next year, because the Convention Center is building a casino on the lower level and won’t have enough space to host Beadfest.  So if you like to lay your money down on games of chance, that will be something to do in the evenings if you come next year.  Or for your SO to do while you bead party.

In my next few posts, I’ll blog about the classes I took, the shopping, and then I’ll wind up with some lessons learned over the past few years of attending this totally fun event.


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