Tim, thanks for opening up this topic once again. There are so many misconceptions out there. I get phone calls and emails from folks inquiring about (or complaining about!) the various shows that call themselves NNLs around the country. Some folks think that we're all aligned, or at worst, that we are a company that runs model shows.
We at Tri-State Scale Model Car Club / NNL East take the concept seriously and do all we can to spread the word. When John Slivoski passed and I became president of our club, my first thought was that we make sure that our show correctly portrayed what NNL stands for. So we loaded up a van and took many of our members out to Toledo so that they could see the original show for themselves. It was quite a trip!
At NNL East everything we do is done to further the cause. Every thing we add or change goes through the funnel of "What would John do?" and "Is this in the spirit of NNL?" We have some very philosophical meetings! We want to be an asset to the hobby and help move it forward. Several years ago we stopped reporting our attendance and number of models on the tables because we didn't feel it was in the spirit of what we were trying to do. It wasn't about getting bigger, it was about making the show, and the NNL experience better every year. In fact, growing the show beyond our numbers would detract from the intimacy we were striving to maintain. So we focus on making the show better. We noticed that our ratio of attendees to model exhibitors was lower than we'd like it. After all, part of NNL is sharing your work with our peers. We saw that many good builders weren't bringing models with them! So we now offer a cool NNL East logo premium only to those who register models, first hoping to get our ratios of displayers up, but also to give everyone something neat to take home!
We established a Friday night event at the host hotel restaurant where there aren't any models at all. It's about the people and catching up with friends you see once a year. Many people say this is as important as the show itself.
At this year's show, we will distribute NNL East name tags. Historically many people have brought their own, but this year we will start handing them out, hoping it results in more people recognizing each other and creating more face to face friendships among guys who may know each other on-line. We also have redesigned the placard (we call it the parking space) that is displayed with each model. This year onward it will not only display the builder's name, but their home town and an optional space for their cell phone number so folks who want to meet them during the show can ring them up. Nothing bothers me more than after the show hearing, "I was hoping to meet Joe X but couldn't find him." so we've addressed this as best we can.
The whole idea of NNL is meeting your peers and sharing ideas and the fellowship of the hobby, without the distraction of competing for awards. It's a laid back atmosphere where everyone wins. As we age, many modelers don't have a local club, but we all are in touch electronically via message boards and emails. We know many people we haven't met face to face, but consider good friends. The NNLs should be that place where we meet face to face annually to share everything good about the hobby!
Tom...this description so wonderfully captures what I think we've all been striving to achieve with the NNL idea. Congrats to you and your team.
It's been ever so many years ago that we got that inquiry from John about doing an NNL East. I remember some discussion of the request, but I think everyone knew we couldn't say no, and it certainly sounded like he was completely tuned into what we were all about. The legacy of NNL East since then, and the spirit shown in your description, suggest you guys got it, and continue to get it, every year you do your show. And ONE of these years, I plan to get there and experience it first hand.
Best regards and thanks for all you and your NNL East team do...>TIM