From all preliminary indications, the 30th Annual BLADE Show held over the weekend at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta was one of the best in recent memory.
The show appears to have had some of the heaviest customer traffic in the history of the event. Pete Cohan of the National Knife Museum said the lines of people waiting to buy tickets that streamed by his booth in the show foyer were some of the longest he’d ever seen.
Meanwhile, sales were great for a number of exhibitors. Purveyor Les Robertson said he sold more the Friday of the show than he did during all of last year’s event. Custom knifemaker Brian Tighe said he sold 45 knives in the first day or so. Maker Michael Zscherny said he sold all seven of his knives quickly, too, and that next year he will bring more. Bill Burke said he sold 17 of the 19 knives he brought before the show was two hours old Friday. Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Fame© member D’ Holder also reported strong sales.
Dave Wilson was the lucky winner of the special William Henry Studio 30th Anniversary BLADE Show knife, valued at $10,000. BLADE Show attendees could enter by visiting the booths of the American Knife & Tool Institute, Custom Knife Collectors Association and Knife Rights, and filling out a form and depositing it at a box at each respective booth. The idea was to expose more knife enthusiasts to how they can protect their right to own and carry a knife through AKTI and KR, and how to collect custom knives through the CKCA. One observer said the boxes were stuffed so full of forms that it was difficult to shake them up properly for the drawing at each booth. The final drawing was done at the William Henry booth.
Also, the lines were long for BLADE Show patrons who wanted to meet, get the autograph of and pose for pictures with R. Lee “The Gunny” Ermey at the SOG Specialty Knives & Tools booth. The Gunny was his usual irrepressible self and entertained show patrons for most of Saturday at the SOG booth. The BLADE Show cannot thank SOG and The Gunny enough for their efforts.
At the BLADE Show Banquet, Charles Elsener Jr. gave a stirring speech accepting on behalf of his near-90-year-old father, Carl Elsener Sr., for the latter’s induction into the Cutlery Hall Of Fame. Elsener Sr. has been president of Victorinox Swiss Army knives since shortly after the end of World War II, and has led the company to its mega-success since. Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer Tim Leatherman gave a touching induction speech for the elder Elsener.
The Blade Magazine 2011 Knife Of The Year® Awards recognized the industry’s finest factory knives and are as follows:
•Overall Knife Of The Year®: Zero Tolerance 0777;
•American Made Knife Of The Year®: Spyderco Native 5 Fluted Ti;
•Imported Knife Of The Year®: Spyderco Vallotton Subhilt:
•Most Innovative American Design: Microtech Select Fire;
•Most Innovative Imported Design: Fox Dobolock;
•Best Buy Of The Year®: Columbia River Knife & Tool Shenanigan;
•Investor/Collector Knife Of The Year®: William Henry Studio ST-4010;
•Manufacturing Quality Award: Chris Reeve Knives;
•Collaboration Of The Year®: Zero Tolerance and Rick Hinderer for the Model 0560;
•Kitchen Knife Of The Year®: Kershaw Shun Fuji;
•Accessory Of The Year®: Blade-Tech MOLLE Lok;
•Industry Achievement Award: Pete Cohan;
•Publisher’s Award: New Hampshire Rep. Jenn Coffey.
The BLADE Show custom knife awards are as follows:
•Best Knife Collaboration and Best Of Show: Dennis Friedly art knife engraved by Gil Rudolph;
•Best Miniature Knife: Yoshio Sakauchi;
•Best Fixed Blade: Rodrigo Sfreddo;
•Best Bowie: John White;
•Best Fighter: R.J. Martin;
•Most Innovative Design: Joe Caswell;
•Best Utility Hunter: Dan Farr;
•Best Sword: Vince Evans;
•Best Art Knife: Donald Vogt;
•Best Of The Rest: Mardi Meshejian;
•Best New Maker: Rod Watts;
•Best Handle Design: Vince Evans;
•Best Tactical Folder: Brian Fellhoelter;
•Best Damascus Knife: John White.
On the American Bladesmith Society end of things, a highlight was the husband and wife team of Adam and Haley DesRosiers winning the B.R. Hughes Award and the George Peck Award, respectively, for the best respective knives by ABS master and journeyman smith applicants. Also, Bert Gaston won the Don Hastings Award, Julie Britton the Margaret Moran Silver Slipper Award, and Kyle Royer the Bill Moran Award for the society’s best annual knife done in the style of a European quillon dagger. Also, the announcement was made that Michael Price, Joe Keeslar and Jim Schmidt would be among those who would be inducted into the ABS Hall Of Fame in August.
There was much, much more—the best in seminars, knife lotteries, knife giveaways, collection displays, etc. For the complete report on the show, see an upcoming issue of BLADE®.
Editor’s note: The knives pictured with the story are the new Shenanigan models from Columbia River Knife & Tool. The Shenanigan is the Blade Magazine 2011 Best Buy Of The Year®.
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