Battleshed Diaries

Monday 9 May 2016

Behind the scenes

What an interesting weekend. Tiring but fun, as I experienced what it's like to be behind the scenes of a wargaming show.  

Carronade 2016, the tenth annual wargaming show hosted by my own club, Falkirk District Wargames Club proved another great success this year, with record numbers of our fellow hobbyists collecting their special Carronade token at the entrance and heading off to the five halls of gaming goodliness.

For me, only six months at the club, it was my first time behind the counter and the whole experience only confirmed my admiration for the hard work and dedication of all the club volunteers that make shows such as Carronade a success. These events are months in the planning and I can only report from the perspective of my small role over the weekend.

It was the Friday evening before the show where the physical work began. I arrived at the venue - Graeme High school in Falkirk, at about 16:30. Fifteen minutes later, I was already sweating as I joined my fellow club members moving a huge number of tables from one of the main school halls upstairs to halls 4 & 5. Its exam time at the school so there was a lot of table and chair shifting required. Everything had to be laid out according to the plan, as traders and club demo games all had their dedicated table arrangements.

The pre-show set up continues in Hall 1
Early on I learnt my first lesson - bring gloves next year! The underside of school desks are a microbial history of the legions of pupils over the years, all set in a spread of bubblegum and bogies. Eww! Apart from organising hundreds of tables and chairs, some of the traders were starting to arrive. The club members formed well-executed staggered lines as they worked together, helping the traders unload their vans and set up. It was a bit weird hefting in stands of miniatures which the next day I would be perusing as a punter! A couple of sweaty hours later we were done for the evening.

By 7am the following morning, show day, I was back and quickly resumed helping set up. By now more and more of the traders and the clubs with demo games were arriving and all of us were busy unloading vans, setting up tables, providing directions and sorting a whole plethora of minor issues. The green-shirted club members were all dashing about in a whir of activity or in duos, straining with furniture.

By 10 am and show opening time, I joined the club members on the front door, keen to experience the show from the perspective of all those club representatives you see at similar shows as the queues form. Many of us had scheduled slots 'on the door'. Mine was in the early afternoon, however I ended up helping out for a number of stretches on the door. This was a bit of a nerve centre for the club members, and of course an information point for the public.

Members had to deal with all sorts of things, for example guiding the attendees to various tables or stalls, dealing with issues over parking, nearest cash points, public transport connections, spare bin bags, chairs, lost property and at one point, toilet rolls! And they did it - volunteers all - with fine good humour and aplomb. What a team!

Minor Demon and Imp from North Star Military Figures, hastily painted by myself.

I did mange to snatch some time to look around the trade stands and games. Upstairs, the ever popular flea-market was heaving, coordinated by a couple of dedicated club members - we were all ready to step in to give the guys a break if needed. There were some cracking demo games on show and as ever a humbling line-up of exquisite miniatures entered for the painting competition. And no, I wasn't involved with judging that - my painting being very much the 'hold at arm's length and squint ' variety. 

Since it was only back in April that I attended Salute down in London, I wasn't planning on purchasing anything this time. I tried to persuade myself that 'I'm on duty' as some kind of psychological restraint. It didn't work. By mid afternoon my 'emergency' £15 was all spent.

More post-Carronde quick paint jobs, this time Treasure Tokens from Ainsty Castings
Well, it was an emergency. I absolutely needed Frostgrave Imp and Minor Demon miniatures. And treasure markers to go with them. Oh and two 'Portoco' kits from Warbases for the pending Faustus Furius chariot racing board still to be built!

As always its great to meet up with friends and acquaintances in the wargaming scene. Although I'm thinking I should get a badge with 'No, I can't get you a discount' made up for next year! It was good to see the esteemed Mr Craig Cartmell from the Ministry of Gentlemanly Warfare demonstrating Blood Eagle again, after we first met at Salute. I also had a long chat with Jimboba from Warchest regarding the SAGA Age of the Wolf campaign I'm hosting. My regular gaming buddy, Sam Pate of Wee Blokes was there too with Pate junior in tow. No idea what he purchased though.

By late afternoon I was back on the front desk, with only a trickle of visitors coming through now. Most of the foot traffic seemed to be going the other way, burdened with bulging plastic bags. It had been a busy, long day so far and the members were taking advantage of the temporary lull before the show closed and all the heavy lifting work resumed. 

With so much going on I hardly took any photos, however Paul Alba has put together a great wee photo compilation to give you a flavour of the day. Cheers Paul!

All those chairs and tables that went upstairs had to come down! So after 4pm as the last of the visitors departed and the traders and clubs started to dissemble their stalls and tables the club members were once again involved in a flurry of activity. The big clear up had begun. Vans had to be reloaded, the extra hired tables moved and stacked for collection, and the five school halls put back together ready for resumptions of exams.

Finally, by 6pm we were done. The guys and gals from the club were weary but still smiling. The good-humoured banter still in full flow. What stood out for me is the sheer effort and efficient teamwork demonstrated by the all the club members. Something that would put many a professional environment to shame from my experience. These people had all taken time out from their families, jobs and busy lives to make a show such as Carronade a success. 

So the next any of my readers are at a show, wherever it may be, I urge you to take the time just to say 'thanks' when you head away festooned with gaming spoils. Trust me, it is appreciated.

Link to some of the sites with photos and reports from Carronade 2016:


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