||03-11-2017 12:23 PM
First... The accepted minimum time to put together a National Convention is 3 years, though you need longer if you want to accomplish certain things. It is a ton of work for a Regional club to put on a NGRC and the lead time for things such as convention centers, hotels and custom convention cars is very long. As an example, when BAGRS commissioned the SF Cable Car for the 2006 convention, Accucraft had a lead time of 5 years and even then we received only a partial order by the time of the convention.
The bid window used to be longer... I remember both Florida and Denver bidding at the 2010 Convention held in Washington and they locked up 2014 and 15. BAGRS put in a bid for the 2016 NGRC at the next convention held in Chicago (I think). Then, if I remember correctly, no clubs bid on 2017 or 2018 until the 2014 NGRC in Tampa where both Atlanta and Tulsa stepped up. Now we jump to the 2015 NGRC in Denver and I was surprised when no clubs put in a bid for the next open date, 2019. Since I was the chairman for the 2016 NGRC I figured a club would contact me so I could arrange time during our Banquet so that they could make their presentation. Nothing... No contact before Denver and nothing afterwards and I started to get worried because I did not want to see the conventions come to an end. It was in late August 2015 when I floated the idea via email to the West Coast club's presidents about hosting the 2019 NGRC. I got more than a few negative responses and then Bill Derville of the Rose City Garden Railway Society contacted me. It took quite a bit of convincing other club members on his part but now they are 100% behind the effort and things are progressing quite nicely.
Now lets hope a club, preferably on the East Coast steps up this year in Tulsa to bid on the 2020 convention. Like I said, it is a lot of work and it takes a dedicated club with enthusiastic volunteers to pull it off. It also takes about $20k in seed money for deposits and such that gets paid out years in advance so it definitely takes some vision by the local club to pull it off. The BAGRS members had quite a few heated discussions before we committed and I'm sure this is true for every club that takes this on.
Now for 2021 I have a radical idea... I think it is time for the Southern California Garden Railway Clubs to band together and put on the largest convention yet!. Because of the large geographic area, I envision a "progressive" convention. One that starts in the South (San Diego?) and progresses North. Maybe spend 1 or 2 nights in each geographic region until the convention ends up in, let's say Santa Barbara or even San Luis Obispo, for the vendor hall and clinics. Or go North to South... Or make a giant loop that ends up at Disneyland... Or...
Yes, it would be a logistics nightmare but wouldn't it be great! There are so many outstanding layouts in Southern California... I'd take 2 weeks off to see them all!
NGRC 2016 Chairman