Monday, February 2, 2015

Military History Fest Report, With Snow

Thursday night was the usual night-before-an-event chaos of getting things packed, additions to the inventory database, etc.Robin had to work Thursday evening, so he and Ron planned to hook up the trailer and load everything Friday morning.

Which is what they did, or at least started, while I went out and procured breakfast. Xap arrived as they were finishing up, so we loaded ourselves into various vehicles and set off. Robin had Friday off, so he helped unload and set up, procured lunch for us, then went back home. 

There was some confusion on our part at first, as I mis-remembered and thought I'd reserved seven tables, but in actuality it was six, which was a whole island, as I intended. We actually only used 3 of the six convention center tables, replacing one with the two Things (as they could be fenced off for bottle containment), created a 6' table out of a piece of gridwall laying on one of our 4' tables and tied to other gridwall on each end (spoiler/note to self: next year bring at least one of our 6' tables) at one end of the island and went with just gridwall at the other end.

I hadn't gotten the yarn, etc. put away with my personal stash of stringy bits after Boar's Head, so I took it out for one more encore. And I decided to put the dozen and a half tails I had that needed swivels out as they were, with a sign that they were $5 off the marked price, thinking people doing fur-trade era impressions might go for them.  

Friday was, as usual, slow business-wise. We were open for business from noon until seven, and most of the afternoon evening it was retirees and kids (veterans get reduced admission Friday). Mostly I worked on pouches, Ron did some chainmail, and Xap did some MuseCon programming things.  Off and on Friday afternoon we were all lightheaded and off. Our suspicion was diesel fumes from vehicles they were bringing in to the back of the hall, and/or artificial smoke from one of the encampments, although that didn't bother us previous years.

Saturday we were open 9-6. In the morning I sewed the leather onto a half-dozen new purple ball bottles, then went back to pouches, when we weren't busy taking care of customers. Second verse same as the first for Ron and Xap and what they were doing. There was lots of discussion about the impending weather in the evening. 

Saturday night I was desperately in need of quiet and introvert time, so I stayed up until almost 11, by which time the snow had started, and there was a definite coating on the yards and street. And then I woke up at 4:30 am, and finally got up about 5 am.  And there was lots more snow. Lots and lots.

The good thing about not sleeping enough, is that Saturday night I got the dishes done (which also let me soak my complaining hands - I got a bunch of pouches finished); and in the morning I had plenty of time to start bacon for breakfast and chili for dinner. I'd chopped and was started to cook onions for the chili (I thought), and then decided to use them for a breakfast casserole (eggs, chopped-up bread, cheese, onions, buttermilk, seasoning, bake until done). Then I chopped up more onions for the chili and put that together (yay for crock pots - Saturday's dinner was corned beef).  

Robin had to be at work at 8:00 yesterday, so about 6:00 I went upstairs and woke him up so he'd have time to excavate the driveway. In a case of great minds thinking alike, Ron appeared a couple minutes later for the same reason.  

In a case of good timing, they finished the driveway (and porches and clearing off cars) about 5 minutes before breakfast was ready.  

By the time we left, an hour or hour and a half after they'd cleared the cars, the cars were coated with almost an inch of snow. The drive down wasn't too bad. The roads were pretty craptastic, but there wasn't much other traffic. We even had enough time to determine that the employee parking lot at my office at the state park was plowed, so we could leave the trailer there, about 6 miles from Pheasant Run, vs. 23 from home.

A good number of vendors had packed up and left Saturday night. Attendance was really weak, I don't think anybody not attending/working the convention came Sunday. Which is not a surprise, given the weather. We were supposed to be open 10-2, by noon everybody left was packing up, and the convention chair had officially blessed us to do so.  

Hauling stuff through the snow on the ground was Not Exactly Fun, nor was loading in the blowing and drifting snow. But it got done, and we pulled out at just about 2:00.  Ron decided not to drop the trailer at my office.  

There was a lot more traffic going home than I expected. The roads were still craptastic, snow was still blowing and drifting. I followed Ron at more or less distance most of the way home. At about I-90 he ended up behind a left-turning car, and I passed. I decided if I stayed ahead I'd be too distracted trying to keep an eye on the truck in the rear-view mirror, and pulled into a shopping center, and got a loaf of bread and muffins from a Panera Bread. Then I got delayed a short bit waiting to go around a police car checking on a car in a ditch,  so I got home about 20 minutes after Ron did. 

Ron and Xap were working on the driveway, and it was kind of hard to tell where the street was to park, and we only have one Yooper Scooper and one shovel, so Ron sent me to CVS to pick up prescriptions. When I came back the driveway was done, Xap was pulling out of the other end of the street to head home, a neighbor was stuck in their driveway, another neighbor with a plow was helping, and Ron was trying to get the trailer backed into our driveway.

I just sat in the car a couple houses down and waited.  The stuck neighbor was un-stuck fairly quickly, then neighbor-with-plow did that driveway. He noticed Ron having trouble backing in, and did the end of our driveway, and part of the street. The driveway doesn't normally seem steep, but the last few feet does pitch enough that it can get interesting with the trailer in the winter. Eventually Ron got the trailer in and reasonably positioned so we could get all our vehicles parked. There was more snow than Ron wanted to deal with to get the trailer into the side yard where it normally lives, so for now its in the driveway.  

Yesterday morning there was about a foot of snow in the driveway. When we got home, there was about a foot of snow in the driveway. When Ron and Robin went out to shovel this morning there was about a foot . . . in some areas where it had drifted, and down to nothing in others. Ron paid neighbor-with-plow to do the driveway again. Neighbor-with-plow is a good thing to have, and in this case, also a very nice guy.  

Even though yesterday was not much fun, sales were good Saturday. We sold a little bit of almost everything: belts; tails (but only ones with swivels, I had left the plain tails in the bags they come in, probably a mistake); pouches (sporrans and the little tabbed soft ones, and an order for one hard pouch); bottles and test tubes (test tubes to kids - there weren't many cheap/kid-friendly things for sale); yarn; books (the two middle-price music-themed booklets); and chainmail (a bracelet and a pendant); plus a couple leashes we made on-site. One of the belts I was worried about the price on because of the cost of the brass buckle I got from England, but the customer didn't even bat an eye at the price. As Xap pointed out, military reenacting is pretty much a rich white guy's hobby.  Everything is expensive, even more recent uniforms and other surplus. I was talking to one woman who was WWI or WWII German Red Cross - she picked it because it *was* something she could do on a budget - her outfit was a white pinafore apron and dress of blue and white pinstripes, which she could make herself, and she only had to buy a couple/few small accessories. 

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