Quoted from Syco54645:
So if we are going for forum activity then I will talk as I am semi active. Sorry but allentown show just plain sucks. I have gone 3 years and every time it was a waste of time, prices on parts were more than had I ordered online, some cases 2-3x more. The "vendors" are going down hill and do not match, why the hell do I need companies that sell random, unrelated things?! Yeah let me go to a pinball show to talk to a gutter leaf guard...
The games in freeplay are ok enough but honestly I will just go to papa or Pinburg and have a cheaper (and not to mention better) time.
Last time I went was to get a playfield from someone I did not even bother going into the show...
It takes a lot of time, effort, traveling, and staffing for a vendor to attend a show with their wares--there are a lot of expenses involved that you might not be aware of, including freight shipping, transportation, hotels, booth rental, table rental, food, etc.
So yeah, some of the smaller parts/supplies might be more expensive (sometimes because of rounding a $0.89 item to $1 for ease of transactions, or other price increases just general markup), but some of the larger stuff you can get deals on (legs, playfields, backglasses, coin doors, glass, other bulky items), especially if you're saving on shipping. Shop smart, and you can get deals.
I like going for the flea market--it can be a goldmine for parts and project games.
For those of in the northeast who don't have a dedicated pinball venue anywhere near us, Pinfest, Pintastic, and now Saratoga are fun events to play games you wouldn't otherwise have access to on location. PAPA is nearly 8 hours from me. It's not practical to go there. It's great that you have that resource available to you, but I'm grateful of the events that are held in the northeast that I have available to me. I don't just go for free play--I go for the buying & selling and seeing all the people I've met within the hobby. Heck, I don't think I played more than 10 games this year, but I still had fun with other aspects of the show.
You are free to choose whichever show/establishment you want to patronize, but I appreciate all the shows that I am able to attend, those of whom who are able to organize them, and everyone who participates in them (staff, volunteers, vendors, and everyone who brings games). It takes a lot of work from a lot of people, and making a broad sweeping statement that "it sucks" is incredibly disingenuous to everyone involved. Yes, there are usually aspects that can be improved upon every year, but if you go there looking to have fun, fun is what you'll find. If you go there with the intention of being a sour grape, that's probably what you'll get out of it.