I look forward each year to attending the Homer Laughlin China Collectors Association (HLCCA) conference in July. It is held in Pittsburgh, PA every other year, because the Homer Laughlin factory is within a 30 minute drive and members can tour the factory and shop in the outlet there. On the alternating years, the conference travels to other cities in the U.S. This year was a Pittsburgh year, and our host hotel was the Embassy Suites in Coraopolis. Super nice facility, and the staff there made all the dish folks feel right at home.
There are always lots of activities: a mixer,exhibits, a show and sale, a couple of auctions, a business meeting, seminars, tours, shopping, and a banquet. Usually, I participate by doing a floral display in that competition, or a table setting in the tablescape competition. This year, I got a little deeper into things: I helped during the mixer, did my usual tablesetting for that competition, AND did an actual exhibit with Jerry Lefever, one of the other members who shares my passion for the Clematis aka Red Beauty decoration.
We both brought pieces from our personal collections, and combined them into one BIG exhibit. I packed up and travelled with SIX TOTES of dishes and Jerry had as many boxes as I did! In fact, there were so many dishes, that I made a trip up there in June just to take my totes of Clematis and stored them at Sid and Maryann's warehouse because I wasn't sure that I could bring all the dishes in the same load as three women and their luggage for a week at conference time! I was a total ditz because I didn't take a SINGLE picture during the exhibits, nor during the banquet that night!!!
The banquet is always held on Saturday night, and the centerpieces this year were spectacular: 75th anniversary soup tureens and limited edition pyramid candleholders! My friend, Susan won the tureen at our table, and I was lucky enough to bring home the candleholders!
I got a bit of a shock this year at the banquet... Each year there are awards presented and I was honored to have been chosen for a very special award. It's called the Homer and Shakespeare Award and the member who won the preceding year chooses the winner for that year. It's given to someone "who works behind the scenes, creatively furthering the efforts of collecting Homer Laughlin dinnerware". Saarin Schwartz was last year's winner, and I was speechless when she called my name!
The award was beautiful...a shamrock green carafe decorated in gold, with Homer and Shakespeare Award on it. Saarin also gave me my very own Dish Fairy, holding a tiny green carafe! I was touched and stunned...and totally, totally, delighted!
and then, the night got even BETTER!! There's an award called The Raspberry Award, given to a member with an innate sense of fun. I was absolutely thrilled to bring that home with me as well. The actual award for that is something made especially for the winner. It's always something one of a kind. In my case, it was a disk pitcher with a very, very special decal. David Schaefer, the editor of the Dish collaborated with Judi Noble, the art director at HLC (and a truly wonderful lady!!) and they really outdid themselves this year!! Remember my post from a few months ago about tattoos, linens, and odd coincidences? well... check out the artwork on my pitcher!!!!! How wonderful is that????
My friend Daphne, from Tabletop Time instituted a policy long ago, that you must take a picture when you get home from any event, documenting what you got there. She trained me well when Rebecca and I visited her for Brimfield last year, so naturally I had to take a photo of all my treasures from this year's HLCCA conference. Some were gifts, some were prizes, and some pieces were purchased treasures from shopping jaunts during the trip:
As much fun as all the activities are, the real draw for me is the chance to see and visit with dish friends I've gotten to know over the years, and get to know other new folks who share the dish fever. It's like a massive family reunion. I end up getting up early, staying up late, and talking pretty much non-stop! It's no wonder that I'm already looking forward to Kansas City next year!