FWW Live, Aug. 2012: How our first-ever conference came to be
Fine Woodworking has been a part of many events in the past, sending editors, prizes and presenters to everything from The Furniture Society Conference to regional guild shows to Colonial Williamsburg’s annual conference on Woodworking in the 18th Century, but until now we’ve never had one of our own.
The reasons are somewhat cloudy and probably not that important, and mostly involved convincing our owners that we could pull off something that was outside our “core competency.” But former editor/now content director Anatole Burkin and I kept fighting the good fight, and last year we won, getting the green light for a summer event that we soon dubbed, Fine Woodworking Live!
I was instantly on the case, talking to other conference organizers and attendees to get their feedback on what works, scouting locations, and rallying the staff to brainstorm the content, the format, and the presenters.
Seeing the event as an extension of the magazine and web site’s core mission, to present unmatched how-to info and empower woodworkers to do their best work, we signed up our best authors and teachers to present seminars on the areas where woodworkers struggle most, sharpening, finishing, hand-tool use, and so on. seeing the things live and in person, and having the chance to ask questions on the fly and even walk up to the bench to try it your self, the event could go where the magazine and online videos can’t!
We didn’t forget the high end of the craft either, adding in classes on everything from wood bending to carving.
Then we threw in some all conference sessions, on furniture design and the state of the craft today, so we knew we needed a venue with small, state-of-the-art classrooms, and also a big auditorium nearby that could handle all 300 attendees at once.
SUNY New Paltz turned out to be the perfect spot. Nestled in New York’s Hudson Valley, alongside the Shawangunk Mountains, withing driving distance of many Northeastern cities, and boasting a shiny Student center that could accommodate the entire event, the small college had everything we needed. The town itself is a popular tourist destination, with plenty for spouses to do.
The FWW Live! web site is up and taking registrations for the August 2-5 event. Check it out for much more on the presenters, prices, accommodations, and more.
Most of the events will be held here, in SUNY New Paltz's brand new student center.
A few of the electives will be held in the spacious woodshop in the nearby Fine Arts Building.
Even the dorms are pretty, offering a lower-cost option for housing during the event.
We are more than excited for our first ever Fine Woodworking conference, August 2-5 in New Paltz, NY, and the web site is up and running with all the info you need.
Scenic New Paltz is one of the Hudson Valley's oldest towns, and is a destination all its own, with funky shops, antiquing, hiking, biking, and world-class museums all either in town or nearby.