The past weekend I attended my first Daytona FATC show. Usually teaching keeps me away from trips like this, but I was able to get away from the awful weather we've been having of late here. The first picture was taken the Monday before I left.
Driving along with my friend Steve Lumpkin made the time fly by, although I must admit I was a bit surprised by the I-40 debacle in North Carolina. I did not know there had been a major rock slide that had closed the road. Despite our detour along the picturesque French Broad river, we made our destination on Thursday afternoon. We were delighted to find we had somehow lucked into the penthouse sweet (14th floor). Here is a picture from our balcony.
The first person I met was none other than Joe Yates. We had a great talk and I was able to spend the rest of the evening "room trading" -- although most of my time was spent conversing with friends old and new. It was terrific talking to Johnny Garland, Bill Stuart, Dan Basore, Dick Braun, Norm Pinardi, Joe Hilko, Ed Pritchard, Ralph Hecht, and of course the infamous Chris "Buzz" Labuznik. We went to bed late and very tired.
The next morning was a whirlwind as set up was a breeze. The FATC surely knows how to run a show like clockwork. Friday is the FATC only crowd, but you would not have known it. The show attracts a huge number of people from across the globe. Even the Brits showed up.
We were fortunate that the FATC gave ORCA their own block, so all of the ORCANs were set up by each other. Roger Schulz, Terry Ow, Andy Foster, Steve Knier, Steve Lumpkin, Dan Marini, Henry Caldwell, Ed Pritchard, and others were all within spitting distance. A few ORCAns like Ed Slane and Dick Braun were sprinkled elsewhere. We estimated 45 ORCA members were in attendance.
Friday was a hugely busy day and when we left the show floor near six o'clock to take dinner with Chris Labuz and his son, we were all exhausted. It was good to see Chris' son James, who I introduced along with Nick Comjean to the joys of Plants vs. Zombies on my iPod Touch.
Dawn broke the next morning and we were ready for the second (and sadly, last) day of the show.
This show is big. I can't express to anyone who hasn't been here just how big it is. Second only to the NFLCC Nationals in size, it is almost impossible to take it all in over one day.
There were so many great displays and Joe Yates has already posted photos of many of them. Here are just a couple of my favorites.
Saturday, noted outdoor writer Bill Baab came down for a book signing for his new book Remembering George W. Perry about the world record bass caught in 1932. Bill brought down the actual replica mount that used to hang in George Perry's office. Over a hundred people came by to have their picture taken with this incredible fish and meet the author. A great time was had by all.
Sadly, our fun came to an end on Saturday at four, when we had to break down and hit the road. But I won't soon forget what an incredible time I had down in Florida, and can't wait to return!
Many thanks to Larry Lucas and the volunteers for such an incredible show. It was a true blast!
-- Dr. Todd