US National Bonsai Exhibition: In search of better organization

This post is likely to be controversial. My hope is that the criticisms highlighted below are taken in the spirit they are intended: as constructive criticism meant to improve the 2021 US National Exhibition experience for all who choose to attend.

Why a “changing of the guard” at the organizational level is necessary: Let me count the reasons:

  1. The Exhibition website was last updated April 5, 2021 (more than 2 months ago). Do the organizers not understand the importance in today’s world of access to up to date information for events like this, and how that can only add to the event’s success?

  2. Incredible as this might seem, there is no mention of protocol that will be in place due to Covid-19…or at least there are none that are obvious. Will the organizers do the right thing and limit admission to vaccinated individuals, or will they throw caution to the wind and open up the venue to all? Will proof of vaccination be required to gain entry? Will unvaccinated individuals be admitted but required to wear a mask at all times? What have the organizers done to insure improved ventilation at this venue (problems were obvious at the last show - see below)? I should not have to ask these questions; they should be addressed and regularly updated at the website. By way of example, see what protocol the New York Racing Association intends to have in place this summer at Saratoga RaceCourse.

  3. Will history repeat? When the exhibition was last held (2018, I believe), it was at the same venue as planned for this year. Has the Total Sports Experience been modernized with air conditioning since then? Has ventilation been improved in response to Covid-19? In 2018 Mother Nature exposed the building’s inadequacy when it blanketed the area with a heatwave (95+ degree temperatures that weekend). Anyone who attended that year can attest to how unbearable it was to be inside the building that weekend. Not to mention the difficulty those in attendance had hearing speakers providing demonstrations. Those demos were held adjacent to glass partitions that only partially blocked sound coming from the vendor area. Are we in for a repeat performance? Best question of all: Why haven’t the organizers sought out a modern venue alternative to this antiquated building, even it meant moving the exhibition to a different city?

  4. Ordering/purchasing tickets is cumbersome for anyone wanting to keep costs down and buy a day pass rather than a weekend pass. If you are in the former category, you are asked to “check back” after August 1st to see if there’s room for you. Seriously? How can anyone make plans on that basis, and why turn anyone away?

Then there’s the question of accommodations around Rochester. I live in Vermont. My preference is to keep costs to a minimum. That means doing the 6 hour drive to Rochester on Friday, pay for one night’s stay at the hotel Friday night, spend all day Saturday at the exhibition, then drive home that evening. I can’t make those plans at this time unless I’m willing to commit to purchasing a weekend pass, or taking a risk later on…meaning my choice is to pay the $50 for weekend admission, but only attend one day, or risk not being able to attend. This concern is accentuated if you aplan to attend with a partner or spouse, are both retired and wish to attend one day rather than the entire weekend.

Will leave it at that. Hopefully, someone with pull might see this posting and try to address one or two of these issues. For those who think I’m needlessly complaining, I believe similar sentiment was expressed years ago, which led to the formation of The Artisans Cup…an exhibition organized in total contrast to what I describe above.

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