- At almost anytime of the
year, there's normally some activity going on somewhere. The
regional clubs have their meetings; there are annual swapfests
at various locations; and, there are two conventions held each
- Meetings for the regional
clubs vary in frequency. Some meet monthly; others meet bimonthly;
one or two only meet once at one or both of the conventions during
the year; and one club doesn't have any meetings at all! Club
meetings, normally held on weekends to make them more accessible
to local members, are typically characterized by a business meeting,
some type(s) of cover exchange, perhaps a small auction, some
show & tell, games, and refreshments. The meetings usually
last a few hours. Club officers normally include a president,
vice-president, membership secretary/treasurer, and editor.
- Swapfests are smaller,
shorter, more intense versions of conventions. Organized by one
or more clubs, the swapfest, as its name would suggest, concentrates
even more so on covers--trading, buying, selling, auctions. There
are several regular swapfests around the country each year. The
UES Swapfest, held in the East, is the most well-known. The Southern
Swapfest is held in Florida. The Long Beach club holds one in
Southern California; and so on. Swapfest features include lots
of trading and buying, dealers tables, room-hopping, freebie
tables, auctions. Plus, there may be displays and awards. There's
also normally a business meeting.
- Conventions are the premier
events of the hobby. There are two in the hobby each year. AMCAL,
held on the West Coast and organized by three California clubs,
rotates each year between Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento
locations. It's the smaller of the two conventions. It normally
lasts three days and is always in the Spring. In the past, it
has featured picnics, barbecues, side trips to local points of
interest, room-hopping, freebie tables, business meeting, displays
and awards, big auctions, lots of games, a shucking contest,
meetings and parties hosted by the various regional clubs, bags
of covers given to registered attendees, and a big awards banquet
at the end of the convention, although such activities vary from
year to year.
- The largest activity in
the hobby is the RMS Convention, held at a different location
each year, depending on which regional club is doing the hosting.
Usually, it turns out to be somewhere in the East. It lasts for
a week and is always in August. It features tours to local areas
of interest, room-hopping, freebie tables, dealers tables, educational
presentations, business meeting, displays and awards, lots of
games, a shucking contest, meetings and parties hosted by the
various regional clubs, four big auctions, bags of covers given
to registered attendees, and a big awards banquet at the end
of the convention. Collectors attend from as far away as England
- The swapfests and conventions
take months of planning and a teams of dedicated volunteers to
handle all of the preparations. A site has to be found; bargaining
for room rates and amenities then has to be carried out. All
of the different activities have to be coordinated and scheduled.
Someone has to handle all the incoming auction lots, while someone
else has to act as auctioneer. Volunteers are needed to man the
various games, raffles, drawings, etc.Someone is needed to run
the display room; someone else is in charge of the freebie tables.
A slate of officers has to be found and elected to oversee the
next year's gathering. And someone needs to pay all the bills!
And yet, it happens every year...and it happens very successfully!
- All of these activities--the
regional club meetings, swapfests, and conventions--bring together
collectors to share covers, experiences and knowledge, but they
also function (especially the swapfests and conventions) to publicize
the hobby, particularly important to any small hobby. (I still
find it surprising that after some 75 years as an active hobby,
the public, by and large, is still completely ignorant of any
hobby having to do with matchcover collecting).