Convention Question

Posted by Jen Garrison Stuber

Email of the Day:
I didn’t attend this year because last year was so bad… I am glad I didn’t from my other home school friends they said it was sad too this year. I will be attending other ones even willing to travel. What happened to all the great exhibitors? It was once the best convention ever now I am sad for the new homeschoolers who never got to be part of that. Area 127, millers pads, fathers world, rainbow resource (gone for yrs now) and many others that were the best. The lines were long long long I had to wait 30-45 min to checkout now nothing. I’m not trying to be mean, just constructive. I don’t know what caused these exhibitors to pull but I would try my best and do all I could to get them back. Even if it meant moving the convention to another location.

Answer (from the entire WHO Board):
We still have a lot of great exhibitors! Just look at this list of our awesome exhibitors from this year’s Convention. I’m hard pressed to think that, regardless of one’s homeschooling style, a person couldn’t find some gems that fit them and theirs at the WHO Convention.

There are a lot of different factors that go into a decision for an exhibitor to attend a convention beyond the date or even the location. One of the things all the homeschool organization conventions — the grassroots conventions that are put on by homeschool organizations that support the community year-around — have had to contend with in the last few years is the rise of event planners creating large regional homeschool conventions.

Miller Pad and Paper chose to go to one of these instead of ours, even with and enticing offer from us, and it being a week before the one in CA. My Father’s World has changed their business model and now have their own little mini conventions at hotels where they set up a room with all of their products. They actually had 2 of those right before our convention. Area 127 doesn’t seem to be doing conventions anywhere. They are in CA and don’t attend the big regional convention either. Rainbow Resources — based in Minnesota — just won’t come to the Northwest unless we convince Oregon to also have them, but Oregon has declined, so it hasn’t made economic sense for them to come without being able to do both conventions.

We encourage you to do three things in relation to this issue:
1) Contact the vendors you want to see at the WHO Convention individually, and encourage them to return.
2) Contact our Convention Coordinator,Kelly Comer to let her know who you’d like to see at Convention. She follows up on every single request, and does her level best to get folks in.
3) Buy at Convention. This one seems extremely obvious, but you’d be surprised how few people put two and two together on this particular point. If they don’t make money at Convention, exhibitors can’t cover the costs of attendance (room, board, travel, fees), and it becomes economically nonviable for them to continue to come.

There’s another piece to this puzzle, as well. The face of homeschooling is changing. As an “older” homeschool mom, I also miss vendors like Miller Pad and Paper — but homeschooling is changing, and and new homeschoolers prefer computer based curriculum. I believe that new homeschool families really enjoyed the convention and the vendors. They don’t know about who is missing. Local companies like Timberdoodle have benefited from the absence of other larger vendors. They are becoming the new favorite and always have a crowd.

The way new homeschool parents teach seems to be different, not that they don’t need hands-on material, but it seems that they rely much more on co-ops and digital learning. I agree that it is disappointing that some vendors don’t come, and they are missed, but I truly believe that the new homeschool generation enjoyed our convention and its vendors. They were still “overwhelmed” by all the vendors and choices offered at the convention.

On behalf of the WHO Board,
~ Jen Garrison Stuber, Advocacy Chair