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2022 handmade show canceled due to lack of exhibitor interest

Published July 22, 2022

EATONTON, Ga. (BRAIN) — The North American Handmade Bicycle Show, which has not been held since 2019 because of the pandemic, is postponing its planned 2022 show due to lack of interest from exhibitors. The organizer says the show will be back for 2023. 

Show director Don Walker told BRAIN that about 65 exhibitors had committed to the show, which was planned for September in Denver. The 2019 show in Sacramento had 219 exhibitors; about 125 had committed to a 2021 show in Dallas before that was canceled. 

"Even if I pulled it off with 75 or 85 exhibitors, that's not enough to attract a good crowd to come in the door," he said.  

"There is something going on obviously. The economy seems to be an issue, and COVID. Some people aren't ready to be in big groups. It shouldn't be a location issue; we did well in Denver in 2013," he said.

Walker said he's reserved mid-September 2023 dates at the same venue in Denver. "Hopefully the parts shortage and economy will be in better shape by then," Walker. 

In a letter to past exhibitors, Walker said a 2022 event was "commercially impossible."

"We understand that exponentially rising costs, travel uncertainties, supply chain challenges and pandemic fears may have contributed to these business decisions. Whatever the reasons, we cannot escape the conclusion that this year it is commercially impossible to present the kind of show that you are used to and have come to expect from us," the letter read in part.

While some custom builders have thrived during the pandemic, some have struggled because of the lack of available parts groups, Walker said. 

Walker, himself a custom builder, has suffered health issues this year including a COVID infection and congestive heart failure. He said that contributed to the decision to cancel the show. He also said he's open to selling the event.

"I may have taken it as far as it's going to go. I really feel like I've tried everything I know to grow it, and now with my health issues, maybe it's time for someone else to take the reins. If someone wanted to make me an offer I couldn't refuse, I'd be happy to retire and go fishing," he said. 

Journalist Patrick Brady served as a chief judge at the show over seven years of the show, before parting ways with NAHBS following the 2019 event in Sacramento. He suggested that some kind of "replacement" for NAHBS could be welcomed. "Frame builders are my peeps," Brady said, "I adore the craft and would lend my hand to a replacement." 

That looks like a fast bike. Astute judges at the 2013 show in Denver consider the best in show award.
Topics associated with this article: North American Handmade Bicycle Show

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