2021 DC Pen Show, Part 2

I now return to the scheduled DC Pen Show Programming.

As I mentioned in my experience post, I’m also reviewing the 2021 DC Pen Show. I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed it before. For those unaware, Bob Johnson passed away, and his sister has taken over the show organization. She appears to be more willing to bring in additional help.

Of note, I won’t be as “harsh” as I general would be. With the combo platter of minimal planning time due to COVID uncertainties, a new person running it, and the limitations due to COVID, the show deserves some leeway. Because of that, I’ll likely review it again, next year (or whenever COVID restrictions have been completely lifted).

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2021 Triangle Pen Show

Jim brought up going to the Triangle Pen Show (TPS) a couple weeks ago but we dithered for a while, only deciding to go on the Thursday before. The drive wasn’t too bad, we were lucky to not hit traffic on the way down — we hit all the traffic on the way back up, though.

We made it to the show around 11:30 am. Finding out masks weren’t required surprised me. Being fully vaccinated, we decided to try going maskless and see how we felt. I’m not going to lie, it felt a bit naughty. I felt almost naked. But it was nice to breath freely. And since the room wasn’t packed, I was OK without a mask and enjoyed the taste of pre-COVID life.

The best part for me was just being at a pen show again. Getting to see Carey from Kenro, Damien of All in the Nib, Bert of Bertram’s Inkwell — although we see him often — and some pen friends was great. I’ve missed the pen camaraderie. It’s such a social battery recharge to see people, talk pens, and be able to see/handle things in person before buying them.

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2019 BWIPS Volunteering

As I mentioned in my last post, this was my first time as pen show volunteer staff. It’s an experience I look forward to repeating many times in the future.

When Corinne, the show organizer, put out a call to the DC Pen Crew for volunteers, I eagerly signed up. My reasoning, beyond wanting to help out, was that if I was volunteering, I wouldn’t be spending money.

That theory worked out well. When I received the schedule, I was happy to see myself listed for Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. That shift schedule worked so well that I’m hoping for the same next year.

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2019 Baltimore Pen Show

Alright, my third pen show of the year. Allow me to start of by saying that the Baltimore Washington International Pen Show (BWIPS) is my favorite pen show. I’ll do my best to describe and rate it (since I haven’t done so previously) in an unbiased manner, but I don’t know if I’ll be wholly successful.

To start, this was a show with several firsts for me. It was the first time I’d attended a full pen show, the first time I’d stayed at the show hotel, the first time I’d attended a pen show workshop, and the first time I’d volunteered as part of the show staff.

I’ll cover my volunteering experience in another post. For now, suffice to say it was great. I’m eager to volunteer again next year.

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2019 LA Pen Show

The Los Angeles Pen Show was the fourth show location I’ve attended (DC, Baltimore, Philly, and now LA). There were a decent number of tables, but the layout was appalling.

We arrived around 10:30, assuming that would allow us to avoid the opening crush of people we’d heard a lot about.

The exterior line at the LA Pen Show
The half of the line outside…
The interior line at the LA Pen Show
… and the half of the line inside.

Unfortunately, we arrived to find a line that wound down the corridor, out the door, and about half way down the building. Surprisingly, the line moved fairly quickly, but getting into the show was less than half the battle.

An unconsidered side-effect of arriving after the show had started was a lack of street parking. There wasn’t much to start with, but it was all taken by the time we arrived. Parking at the hotel ended up costing us around $20 for the little time we were there. I don’t want to know what people who stayed the whole day paid.

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2019 Philadelphia Pen Show

As I sat down to write my post about the LA Pen Show, I realized I’d never written a post about the Philly show. Therefore, even though it’s over a month late, allow me to share with you my experiences at the Philly show.

We drove up from the DC area with a friend of ours, and, thankfully, there was no real traffic. Upon arriving, I realized how fortunate I am to have the DC and Baltimore shows.

My immediate thought was that the show is overpriced for its size. We paid $13 online (it’s $15 at the door), a single-day price higher than DC, Baltimore, and LA. It’s also smaller than those other three shows.

I will say that the aisles were roomy, on par with Baltimore and far surpassing DC and LA. The selection was fairly evenly dispersed between vintage, new, expensive, and affordable. There was a decent selection of inks. And, for the overall size of the show, a decent number of nibmeisters.

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