Going back a couple of years to the Rochdale November 2011 show when we (the Rochdale MRG) had so much hassle with the hall at Oulder Hill and the show in general, a number of us in the group decided to call it a day with holding the shows, we had just about had our fill of it all. Grafting your bollox off over 3 days for a return on capital expenditure that would make Alan Sugar’s eyes water, just to get pain off bolshy hall managers and thats before you got the grief off all the traders because they didn’t do so well or cant get a good spot to park their van nearest the door. Although the next show would be a landmark, the 50th, basically the 4 regular members could not give a shit anymore.

Roll forward to the back end of 2012 and we were mellowing, yes we would consider another show but it would be on our terms getting rid of the things which were causing us the trouble: The hall, the Traders and the barrier and no overnight stays. Back to basics was the theme, it was our 50th show and why not go back to that. We went and visited the hall and chatted to the caretaker – it was a case of just get on with it lads. the price was right. Not only that but the premises are smart and well decorated – added bonus theres a cafe underneath and several pubs and shops nearby. Its a couple of minutes across the road to the station. We planned it yes we can have good finescale layouts that won’t cost the earth and we do not need traders to offset the cost – well go on the n we will have one in but not actualy charge him anything to come, if he does well he can make us a donation, if its not good then its OK we understand. Lets have a line society in as well and a preservation stand.

On Friday evening I all came together, it was relaxed, it was no hassle. We were having a laugh. Come 10am on Saturday morning there was a small queue and the show was busy all day, but everyone was actually enjoying themselves. I never stopped talking to visitors even when I was doing routine stock maintenance at the end of the layout. We closed at half four on the satirday, everyone was happy and we sauntered of to the Baum (CAMRA pub of the year 2013) for a very good meal and a few – well a lot really – beers. Early doors Martin Edmondson got a phone call from the club treasurer – “we are in profit buy everyone a drink from the club”. Sunday continued in the same vein, we stripped the show down at half four, it was relaxed there were big smiles from all at what is usually the most fraught bit of a show.

In short this is the best show Ive ever been involved in and done, and thats from someone who’s been an exhibition manager for 25 years up till 2011. I’ve exhibited at countless shows, I’ve visited as a punter even more but this is without shadow of a doubt this is the best most relaxed Ive ever done. OK there are those who think that 40 layouts and 40 traders is a good show -never mind the quality, feel the width, there was no filler. Whats the point of paying £10 or more to go and see the same amount of good layouts as was here, and the rest a pile of sheeite? Traders – well if I want something i can just go on the internet and get it – often cheaper, they are not important in the show environment. I return to that theme “Back to basics” – go and enjoy the layouts. Thats the way forward and the most important thing. The retail therapy you can get 24/7 online.

Yes it was a great weekend and its likley there will be another next year with more brilliant layouts. Watch this space.