This is a long post - there's your warning. Move on if you want short and sweet reads .....
After 13 hours of sleep (REALLY!) I have partially come back to life from an exciting and exhausting pinball show execution. It has been 9 years since I was an organizer of a show (prev. Heartland Supershow 2005 -2009) and taking on the role of Games Coordinator (or chairman as Berk stated it) was not all that I would become involved in. I've assisted in the planning of this "Reboot" since April and have researched the amount of work that Mike had previously put in Expo. Notice that I have never been involved in the drama side of the Pacak / Berk split and therefore I have nothing to say nor should ever be involved in that discussion. It should be known that it previously required Mike, and this time myself & David Fix a tremendous amount of effort to pull this show off. Rob Berk had to become more involved than previous. All parties did their jobs to the best of their abilities and the results, outside of the normal or petty complaints, have been fantastic.
The most important change about this show HAD TO BE a positive vibe throughout. Some people thrive upon conflict. I have no use to be included in any circle like that. So teaming with David Fix was important. I want to add Jeff Ohler in here too as a key person that built a complete website and had to put up a million requests to change things. He too is an incredibly positive person and was visible throughout the show working media equipment.
For the Games role, thanking Darren Sheldon is not even close to enough. This guy is a true partner in making the logistics of move-in work. There aren't many people that you can work 18 hours with, then have them snore in the other bed for 6 more, and enjoy working with him for the next several days. He's that kind of person. While a couple of "pre-registered volunteers" didn't show, new ones did show and saved me from an ER visit. I want to thank all of these people that rolled up their sleeves and put in some very hard hours of move in and out ... all being positive and happy people, knowing pinball, and willing to help everyone.
Karl Marsicek - who even brought me a jar of Peanut Butter and a knife!
Vince Loeffler, Greg O'Hara, Chris Kubiak - these 4 I consider as the new Mafia.
Mike Gasper (thanks for the power strip!), Gio, Craig Comparato, and Rob Kotot - The old Mafia came alive!
All of these local guys worked their butts off - And made me wish I lived closer to the Chicago-land area to play and restore pinball with.
Far from least, and on Sat. night the MOST is Victoria Herring & Nick Dreessen. These guys came into the Gameroom at 3PM and didn't walk out until 2AM.
You all deserve far more and if I could, I would have. I also want to thank Andrew Barney for the insight before and encouragement during the show. You know like no other what a job this is! If I left anyone out - I am sorry.
Managing games coming in is a difficult task. We had no way of really knowing who would bring games and what condition these game were in. A perfect world would allow us to stop people, have them setup a game, verify it worked OK, and then send them on, or send them away. Could you imagine the hassle this would create? It's not possible. We have to trust people that they have a working game and can repair it if it breaks down. We emphasize this as they come in and stop people when it looks like they're bringing in barn finds or crap wrapped in plastic. A few were stopped on the way in because of this and told that they would have to become vendors if they wanted to sell their broken or non-working games. Some did just that. We weren't staffed to take keys and manage games that weren't ours. I know some shows are equipped for that but I don't want the responsibility unless I have a team to do so. We needed more people and perhaps it will happen in the future.
Those that mentioned the high number of games that were down in the gameroom - you were right. Rob Berk's games had a large number that were down due to no credits or stuck balls. Consider this though - when you are the main show organizer and you bring a giant truckload of games, you are showing that you are committed to your own show but you are also needed to manage the show. He had a tech there, but that guy was also managing the Rob Berk booth in the vendor hall. There were a few people that would come with keys and get credits on games, fix stuck balls, etc, but not quickly enough. There were also a large number of EM games from Pederson there. These were sometimes troublesome because no one was actively checking on them. In short, Rob needed to have a pair of people just monitoring his and Pederson's games. I wanted to have a "dead game" room but we literally ran out of space. All small side rooms were in use for one reason or another. Outside of this blemish, the large majority of people worked hard to keep their games up and running.
For those that say that these machines were meant to be on and played for 24 hours a day, I say you are rightish. If I have a 1980 Williams Firepower - it should be able to be played like that in 1980, and certainly for some years after than. But in 2018 - maybe not. Of the 6 games I brought and with my role in Expo, I still found the time to fix my Black Rose (had to have my hero Rob Anthony do CPU board work), Laser War (need adjustment to fix stuck balls), and Firepower (burned flipper coil - replaced and fixed EOS switch stack). Strange Science eventually popped a coil fuse late Saturday. I gave in and shut it down. Point is, I led by example throughout. Most others did the same - some really have true fatalities that were beyond something Rob Anthony could fix and no one had parts at the show. One person even drove to Terry's to get a coil to replace a fried one in his game. So for ALL OF THOSE THAT BROUGHT GAMES AND KEPT UP WITH THEM - MY HAT GOES OFF TO YOU! Yes, I shouted. They deserve a very big THANK YOU. It is a selfless act and costs them wear and tear and a lot of effort! Yes, you get an armband. But it usually requires some heart to load up and go through this process. If you haven't brought a game and maintained it throughout a show - please don't complain. We asked that people put their phone numbers on the game registration cards. Most did. They are there for you to text and complain. And they might meet you at their game to kick you a$$ if you complain too much (maybe why the biggest complainers don't text the owners?). Everyone that brings a game should already know that people might text them about their broken game(s). Utilize that option please. But be nice
To the group-on guy that came at 3AM, I hate that for you. I wish I was still lurking around at that hour. I would have gladly let you in, gave you an armband - whatever. If it were me, I would have gave someone a heads up that I was coming in at that hour though. That's an odd time to expect that all would work out. Still, I'm sorry that happened to you. I wish there was a way I could make it up to you.
SPILL OVER ROOM - As more and more games came into the hall, the need to spillover into the Botanic room (aka. Galloping Ghost room) became necessary. Phoebe's outstanding collection of rare WMS games (Varkon, Joust pinball, Rat Race, etc.) was moved multiple times. It was a pain for her but ultimately was in a location where people could really enjoy them. Please thank her for that contribution. She is a wonderful person and it was great to have her unique and well restored games there. Also thank Doc Mac at Galloping Ghost for the games he brought. That was a TON of work for him and his guys. Botanic seems like a full mile away from the dock and they moved all of those in there - probably wore out a pair of shoes in the process. Many of those games were very rare. I seen a lot of people really getting into that part of the room. So if you liked it, tell Doc that you appreciated him bringing all of those. The home brew guys were awesome. As mentioned on the forum topic, it did turn out to be the best place. It was quiet enough to hold a conversation with the developers of those games and people really seemed to appreciate them. I know I did. There were power problems in that room. There are some issues with that room having a limited amount of power available and we were using it to the max. Signage wasn't great for this room. That will be resolved for next year.
ATTENDANCE - I really have no knowledge of attendance numbers but to summarize the buzz from organizers and long-time attendees, it seems like a lot more from last year, and slightly more from 2016. I know this - people were spread out all over the place. There were more rooms than ever before for people to wander into and that could mean fewer people in every room and still have more people there.
PERSONALLY - I appreciate being able to see so many old pinball people at this show. The St. Louis crew, the old Chicago guys, Troy Smith (is there a Central IL crew?), seeing people that still remember the Silverball podcast and GameRoom Magazine was nice. David Fix and his 2 NY guys were great - worked incredibly hard to make the vendor room happen like it did. I really like David's personality. He's the real deal folks! Brigitt Berk is the rock for Expo. Her organizational skills are amazing. Her entire family ran the registration desk and fielded so many requests ... it is hard to imagine how difficult a job that is. She deserves more credit.
I wanted to push in a seminar - but make it an Pinball Electronics class as an experiment. I had about 14 people in there and we went over about 30 minutes with discussion. That's a lot for a 9AM Friday morning "class" that went 2.5 hours. I would call that a success. This might turn into a Pinball Repair Bootcamp event at my college to teach people electronics for pinball. Thanks to those that attended!
I never committed to helping more than the 2018 show as an organizer. It is incredibly taxing on my career, hobbies, and family life to be swept away with all the weekly work for 6 months, week of vacation from work, expenses, 6 hour drive, etc. I wanted to help make Expo "great again" and I did what I could. There are other ideas of resurrecting the old Supershow in Southern Illinois that I would like to try. That suits me better to be honest. Expo will always be a special place, a show to attend and catch up with old pinball friends over a 4 player death match on Night Rider (I lost that one!) or share a meal with - see the new cool games and gadgets,etc.
THANKS TO ALL FOR MAKING 2018 A GREAT SHOW!