Was privileged to exhibit at Oregon Manifest in Portland earlier this month. Many of us from the NW were depressed that Don Walker’s North American Handbuilt Show had relocated to Indianapolis. It was such a big hit last year. Worry no more, Portland has a show worth celebrating and one that will certainly grow and evolve in the coming years.
The attendees were talented and eager to check each other’s work, sure sign of a community. I sensed less “I can out file and out detail you” vibes compared to Handbuilt last year. There were also less well-heeled collector types in the aisles than in San Jose (’06) and last year. The offerings were more practical, more in keeping with the times. Many bike trucks, trailers, and practical racks; fewer all-Campag Record/Zipp showboats.
Once again, the booth was staffed by my hard working and gregarious wife, Donna. And this year brother Jon popped over from MT to lend a hand. That had to lend some serious wheel centric karma to the venue. Once again, however, my #1 reservation with the event was the scarcity of interesting wheels. Where are the wheel builders with enough business and variety to rent a booth? Come on now folks, there are more of you than that! Frame builders need help in the wheel department, as most wheels (outside Wheel Fanatyk) were numbingly predictable.
It was good to see John Caletti and Jeremy Sycip from Nor Cal. A few others from afar made the trek. I hope they agree it was worth it.
Another nice ingredient was an east side, urban flavor — the crusty, naughty, scar faced bikes of street wise artists. Dead baby bike club and rude traffic mercenaries had vast spaces. Their presence was utterly absent at last year’s Handbuilt, where the atmosphere ran dangerously close to convention center commercial.
According to the irrepressible Chris DiStefano from Chris King, the show was everything the organizers hoped for. A broad spectrum of sustainable support was felt from the community, the exhibitors put up great displays, and partygoers went to town. If you were anywhere nearby and didn’t go, make sure you don’t miss next year’s.
Thanks to everyone who came by with good wishes, smart questions, and thoughtful recommendations.