Knifemakers Guild Show 2010

Another Guild Show has come and gone! This was the 41st annual show and the second year in Louisville, KY. We had pretty good traffic through the show all weekend, not packed, but a good crowd. I was actually rather impressed with the number of people who came through on Friday.

It was a great show in terms of the knives displayed. The talent represented in that room is almost overwhelming. It can be quite humbling for me to lay my knives out on the tables in the midst of some of the best knifemakers in the world. As with any knife show, some makers sold out, some did not, and some didn't sell anything. I do know that hundreds of knives were purchased at the show. I know one local collector who purchased 16 knives including some of the cream of the crop at the show.

Classy show! To me, the Knifemakers Guild shows class on many levels. Many of the most highly regarded knifemakers are always behind their tables in coat and tie and their wives are dressed beautifully. I think that represents class and their pride in their work. It shows me that they respect the attendees enough to put on their best for them, just like they do with their knives.

Bill Luckett made a special knife and donated it to be given to the first person who waked through the door in uniform. The lucky recipient was a young soldier who just enlisted. CLASS!

Jerry Moen, who received the first Frazier "Museum's Choice" award last year, made a special knife with the Frazier Museum logo scrimmed on one side and the Guild logo scrimmed on the other side (beautiful scrimshaw by Linda Karst-stone) and Jerry gave the knife to the museum founder Owsley Brown-Frazier on behalf of the Guild. This was after Jerry already gave Mr. Frazier one of his knives last year in appreciation for Frazier supporting the Guild Show. CLASS!

There were several instances where the Seelbach Hotel and their staff went way above and beyond to take care of our table holders and their guests. They have absolutely bent over backwards to welcome the Guild Show to their hotel and have done everything they can to help make it a great show for everyone. CLASS!

I by no means want to give the impression that this is a snooty or elitist show. I am as much a down home country boy as anyone there and I have always been made to feel perfectly at home at the show. It's more like they old days when people put on their Sunday best. Among the knifemakers and regular collectors it really is a reunion where good friends get together each year and have a great time seeing each other. There is very much a family atmosphere in the room. Unlike a giant show, with 140 tables it is a much more relaxed atmosphere where people don't have to rush trying to take it all in. There is time stop and talk and spend quality time looking a the knives and getting to know the makers.

In the evenings people gathered at the excellent hotel restaurants and bar or went outside to "Fourth Street Live" and enjoyed the many clubs and restaurants nearby. Many found time to visit the nearby Louisville Slugger factory and baseball museum or the Frazier International History Museum and see their world-class collection of antique arms.

It was a great whirlwind weekend. People were still coming in an hour before the show closed and there were very few knifemakers who didn't stay right up to the closing bell on Sunday. We probably do as much or more advertising as any knife show anywhere. We advertised the show in national magazines including Blade magazine, Knives Illustrated and Knife World. We produced TV commercials that aired on the region's #1 TV station and radio commercials that aired on two of the areas leading radio stations. We had huge ads on 35 buses running throughout seven counties in Kentucky and southern Indiana for a full month prior to the show. We distributed 5000 free passes as well as making free passes available on the Guild's website. We had posters, flyers and car signs all over. And of course we worked the Internet and knife forums.

We have, and will continue to, do everything we can to get the word out and bring people to the show. Being in a new location that has had few knife shows, we are bringing in a lot of fresh faces that have never seen anything like it before. We hope we are breeding a new crop of collectors and enthusiasts.

The old saying on the forums is "Pictures or it didn't happen" so let's get to the pictures. I have posted my pictures below and I will be adding many more when Edmund Davidson sends me his photos.

The show venue: The historic and magnificent Seelbach Hilton Hotel in downtown Louisville, KY.

Right outside is "Fourth Street Live", Louisville's entertainment district with restuarants, bars, shops, live entertainment on the stage in the street and a top comedy club.

Pre-Show activities

The annual event is much more than a knife show. It is also the annual meeting of the Knifemakers Guild, the President's Gala for Honorary Members, and other activities surrounding the show.

On Thursday prior to the show, the Knifemakers Guild inspection committee inspects the knives of Guild applicants. To apply for membership to the Knifemakers Guild, a knifemaker must have his or her application signed by four voting Guild members who have inspected at least four of the applicant's knives and determined that the work meets the Guild's standards of excellence. Once an applicant has their application signatures, they must again present at least four knives for inspection by the inspection committee at the annual meeting and show. If they pass inspection here, they will be granted membership as a Probationary member. Probationary members must serve at least two years as probationary members and then again have their knives inspected to be considered for Voting Membership. One of the purposes of the two-year probationary period is to allow the Guild to monitor the applicant's business practices and see if they receive any complaints abut the applicant's work or ethics. This helps to insure the buyers that when they are dealing with a Guild member, they are not only assured that the maker can make a good knife but that they are also an honest and ethical business person.

Marvin Winn getting his knives inspected.

WC "Bill" Johnson inspects a knife.

Edmund Davidson closely examines a knife.

The Guild Show always starts off with the President's Gala for Honorary Members on Thursday evening. This is a great evening of food, drink and entertainment for the Honorary members of the Guild. Honorary members are the collectors who keep us all going and the Gala is one way we can show appreciation for their support.  If you are interested in becoming an Honorary Members, ask any Guild Member or see for more information. The gala alone is worth the $25 annual fee but there are several other perks to Honorary Membership.

Knifemakers Mike Pellegrin and Daniel Chinnock chat with friends.

Our Guild President Gil Hibben and his family and friends: Left to right: Sharon Rapp, Paul Courier, Gil's son in law Shane and daughter Lira, Gil's son Tommy and his girlfriend Aleta, Gil's son Wesley, Gil, and Gil's daughter in law Cassie.

Gayle and Hester Bradley enjoy a laugh with friends

Gil Hibben's sons Tommy and Wes. Wes is an accomplished knifemaker from Alaska.

The Gala also provides a sneak peek and first chance to buy selected knives from the show. All table holders have the option to select one knife, preferably their best work, and offer it for sale at the gala. There is a box beside each knife and those wishing to purchase the knife at the asking price put their name in the box. At a designated time, one name is drawn from each box and that person can purchase the knife. Below are a few of the knives on display at the Gala.

Barbara Baskett

Robert Flynt

Ronald Best

Gayle Bradley

William Johnson. This knife later won the "Museum's Choice" award presented by the Frazier International History museum.

Kenneth King

Warren Osborne

Friday morning before the show opens, the Guild holds it's annual business meeting where officers are elected, new applicants are introduced and receive their probationary membership credentials, two-year probationary members receive their voting memberships, special wards are presented, and general Guild business is conducted.

Gil Hibben was unanimously re-elected to his third term as Guild President as was Wayne Hensley as Vice-President. Two board members that were up for re-election were also returned to office in a strong vote of confidence by the membership that the Guild's leadership is moving the Guild in a positive direction.

Author and collector Dr. David Darom traveled to the show from Israel and was presented with the Guild's "Nate Posner Award".

Knifemaker Doug Casteel was presented with the Guild's "Red Watson Memorial Friendship Award".

Eighteen new applicants received their probationary memberships at the 2010 meeting.

Left to right: Charles Vestal, Steve Myers, Mike Pellegrin, Thomas Rucker, Marvin Winn, Robert Ball, Douglas Stice, Steve Davis, Dwight Phillips, Tony Baker, Kevin Cross, Scott Davidson, Johnny Perry, Kenneth Savage, Zoe Crist

Six two-year probationary members received their voting memberships at the meeting.

Left to right: Jerry Moen. Larry Hostetler, Larry Pridgen, Jerry Partidge, Lonnie Jones, Jason Rabuck


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