Last Sunday saw an early start for a trip to York and the Vapnartak show. It has been held at the racecourse for several years now and it's one of my favourite venues. Access is good and the catering is above average. Never underestimate the need for semi-decent scran after a half past bed-time wake up call and a couple of hours on the A1(M).
The show itself pretty much followed previous years, and it must be said that it seemed to be the same old faces in the same old places. That should be expected, after all, the hobby isn't that big, but the biggest concern I felt was that the demo/participation games seemed to be the same as last year. Deja vu indeed. There were one or two new games that did catch my attention, and not necessarily for the right reason - the Airfix battles game on set on terrain in the form of a printed sheet being one. It was one step removed from a board game and having read a few pieces on the gaming system, watching that play out didn't improve my opinion of it one bit.
Other than that, the show did see me drop a few quid at Caliver (the Team Yankee expansions for the British and East Germans - I quite like Team Yankee, even if it is very much a "Bang! You're dead!" type of game but with a few amendments and an umpire guided set up, they are actually quite fun) and Dave Lanchester Books (a lovely volume on air operations at Suez, a conflict that holds my interest but tends to be forgotten amongst the rest of the Cold War shenanigans).
The show was busy (until the usual 1.30 exodus as the hordes depart for Sunday lunch and a snooze), and there were more than a few familiar faces, especially from my neck of the woods. It was nice to see, to be honest, and made me think that if the two larger north-east shows (Border Reiver and Battleground) could attract the same crowd, it would be of benefit to both shows.
Border Reiver has had a drop in attendance since the move to Gateshead International Stadium a few years back (it has certainly felt less busy as the years have gone by), and the organiser of Battleground (Leon), has been more than open on the Pendraken forums about the drops in attendance for that show. So on the whole, fewer people are going to those shows, yet it will cost the same, maybe a little more each year, for the venue. Fewer people means less door money, It also means either the per person spend has to go up or the traders are taking less money. If it's the latter, how long do they keep up their attendance before it becomes financially pointless to go?
As regions go, the North-East is pretty large, and the two shows don't compete for the same venue or date. If you were to compare these shows to, say, Falkirk, they are pretty similar in economic location and catchment area. Yet for all appearances, the two north-east shows (as far as public visibility goes), don't hold a candle to the Scottish show.
So I leave with a question: Is there a point to either North-East show?