Last Friday (24 July) was a busy day and night for me at the International Plastic Modelers' Society/USA (IPMS/USA) National Convention in Columbus, Ohio. After waking up early in my hotel (Red Roof Inn in Grove City), I drove to the parking garage at the Columbus Convention Center, when walked to the Hyatt Regency next door where the convention was held. I pulled a two hour volunteer stint as a vendor room checkpoint, making sure only registrants and paid visitors entered the room. No problems here. Then, I attended a seminar for On the Job Trainee (OJT) contest judges. There were about 20 of us there learning about judging contest entries, and I felt that I could be an effective judge.
After grabbing lunch in the Convention Center's food court and browsing in the contest room, I then pulled another vendor room checkpoint stint, followed by attending a seminar on advanced concepts for US Army Air Corps (USAAC)/US Army Air Forces (USAAF) aircraft of the late 1930s and early 1940s. I found that most interesting, as I found out about concepts I had never heard of before.
I browsed some more among the vendors and got a dinner at the food court, then I reported to the judges' meeting. There were at least 150 judges in the room, as the head of IPMS/USA's national contest committee briefed us on what to look for in the contest entries and how to record the results for each category. Afterward, I waited with other aircraft judges to hear my name called to join a judging team as an OJT. My name was called and joined the other three judges on a team as we walked to the contest room. Whatever nerves I felt going in soon went away as our team found the category we were to judge (157: Civil, Sport, Racing, and Air Taxis, 1/144 and 1/72. There were 15 contest entries we judged, one by one, and I recorded our assessments of the strong and weak points of each entry, plus contributing my thoughts about each model. We decided after much careful thought on the first, second, and third places and I recorded those on the sheet that was turned into the contest registrar. It took us about 2.25 hours for us to judge this category.
After that, we waiting until all the aircraft categories were judged and then we considered the candidates for Best Aircraft. After examining several candidates, we decided on a exquisite P-47 Thunderbolt. We left the contest room just over four hours after I entered it to help judge. It was a good experience and I would very much like to judge again at future IPMS/USA National Conventions. I drove back to the hotel and turned in for the night.
The next morning, I returned to the convention, where I did one more visit of the contest and vendor rooms, ran one more checkpoint stint, and took in a seminar on real space modeling run by my friend and former IPMS/Gateway colleague Mike Mackowski. I went to eat dinner in the food court while the banquet took place, chatting with two modelers from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Then, I went to the banquet room for the announcements. The contest chairman thanked his staff for all their hard work, and several national honors were announced. The folks from Columbia, South Carolina pitched the 2016 National Convention they are hosting, and Omaha, Nebraska was announced as 2017's host. The contest results were announced, with photos of the models shown on screens in the hall.
After the ceremony, the attendees headed to the contest room to look over the contest winners and to pick up your models. I packed up my four contest entries (neither of which won), and chatted with a few people I knew before I left the contest room and went to my car.
By the way, there were 847 registrants at this year's convention and 2431 contest entries. (With multiple models in a few entries, the total models present was 2780.) More on the convention and IPMS/USA here: http://ipmsusa.org/.
I woke up early Sunday morning (26 July, packed up my things in my rental car, and checked out of the hotel. I then drove into Columbus for breakfast at a Panera Bread Co. restaurant with my high school classmate Mike Anderson, who lives in nearby Pickrington. We chatted for over an hour, getting caught up on things. Then, I began my long trip back to St. Louis. After stops for fuel, lunch, and personal breaks, I got into Ellisville late that afternoon. I drove to the car rental branch, where my car was parked, took my things from the rental car and loaded them into my car, then parked the rental car by the branch and put the keys in the drop box before driving home to unpack.
I was back at work early the next morning, and didn't miss a beat. I helped keep things going well, despite the heat early this week. It got up to 100 degrees F (38 degrees C), with the heat index making it feel like 115 degrees F (46 degrees C). I did my best to stay cool and hydrated, with the encouragement of the branch management. At least it got a bit cooler the past couple of days, so that's an improvement.
Since I am working this Saturday, I flexed out Tuesday afternoon (28 July), but returned to the area after business hours to join in a happy hour celebrating the departure of our intern Kate, who's heading back to college this fall. Power outage at the original venue meant we headed to another one, but it was crowded. Then, we found the power was back on at the original venue, so we headed back there. However, I had to leave to head to the IPMS/Gateway business meeting, so I had to say goodbye to Kate then and there. The business meeting was a bust, though, as only four of us were there and that was not a quorum.
Off work today, I cut the grass at my mother's house, shopped for some new work shoes, and ran off some flyers for the Region 5 Convention IPMS/Gateway hosts on 12 September in Sunset Hills. More info here: http://www.ipms-gateway.com/.