I went to the Woodworks Events show this weekend in York, PA, where my club had a booth and where I took two seminars and one class. One of the best things about being a woman at these shows: no lines in the women's bathroom.
Since I've been attending shows like this for the past 15 years, I've noticed a steady decline in attendance both in attendees and in vendors. Used to be you'd have to crane your neck over the shoulders of 3 rows of people who were crowding over some tool seller's demonstration. Not an easy task for someone who's only 5' 5". You'd find yourself saying "excuse me" throughout the day because of the number of folks you'd inadvertantly bump into. It was noisy, bustling, exciting, and something you'd mark on your calendar months in advance of the show date.
The show this weekend was a veritable ghost town. I've noticed the most significant decline in the last 5 years. Years ago, the closest parking space I could find was about a quarter of a mile from the front entrance. Today, I parked in the second row directly in front of the entrance doors.
So, what's going on? Are woodworkers suddenly taking up quilting? Épée competitions? I don't think so. My theory: the Internet. Fifteen years ago, a woodworking show provided the only chance you had to see certain tools or newly unveiled tools, compare them with other manufacturers' equivalents, and peruse the latest woodworking books. Now, of course, you can compare tools online, find all the specifications you need, even download manuals, price compare, and buy the latest woodworking books at discount prices weeks after they've been published.
I suspect the halcyon days of woodworking shows are over. And that's sad. For me, it's like the end of a time-honored tradition. To no longer bump elbows with so many people who share your same passion, to no longer have to race to each booth for fear of missing out on some great deal or the last issue of a book you wanted....it reminds me of that 80's song: "Video Killed the Radio Star".
Internet Killed the Woodworking Shows.