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 year.
 
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 and Australia.
 
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).

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