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AKFest 09 Foreword by Gary Lea

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Being the writer who lives in Las Vegas I am intimately familiar with the CES show. CES is open only to industry people, which has puzzled me for years. I have been covering it since 1997 and have watched it grow into the juggernaut it has become, move venues to increasingly higher costing locales and seen a number of smaller, though just as important manufacturers fall off the radar because they could no longer afford to attend. It always seemed to me that there should be a consumer day. After all it is called the Consumer Electronics Show, not the Electronics Industry Show for Industry People Only! How novel, let the consumers in for a day. Imagine how that might drive the business if the poor shmoe like me could come and ogle all the stuff he reads about and see and hear it in person. Wonder if that might drive the hobby and business up a bit.
The Rocky Mountain Audio Fest has gained a foot hold over the past few years and is now one of the up and coming regional shows that pull a lot of heavy weight exhibitors, is reasonably affordable and is open to the public for a small ticket fee. Hey we are on to something here. While it is still by and large an industry show the open feeling, the interaction between manufacturers, dealers, press and Joe Public is actually a very comfortable one and very healthy for the industry. Heck, I even had a couple of people come up to me, introduce themselves and tell me that they have read a number of my articles. Treated me like a bit of a celebrity. Whoa that was a jolt!
That leads me, interestingly enough, to the Audio Karma Fest or AKFest for short. A sound which strangely emulates the sound Bill the Cat, from the Bloom County cartoon, made. Sorry I digress a bit. I travelled this past week to Livonia Michigan, just outside of Detroit to attend and cover the Audio Karma Fest. It has been a very long time time since I have been in the land of the great American motor car. It was a real shame to be returning to the city, as the one of the very industries that brought great wealth to this country is facing possible extinction. The general mood of people that I spoke to was very somber. I thought it an odd time to be travelling to a small regional audio show, especially considering the economic mood. Boy am I glad I went. The experience was definitely uplifting. While everyone certainly agreed that the economy was in the tank and that we have all been affected, the general mood of the exhibitors and the show goers alike was one of hope and the Audio Karma Fest brought a much needed ray of sunshine into a number of people’s weekend. Held in nearby Lavonia, the show hosted about 47 exhibitors and a few hundred attendees. The show was relaxed, laid back, open to the public and everyone seemed to be having fun. I know I did. What was surely a letdown for some was an added bonus for press. No crowds! We were free to come and go without being elbow to a@#$%e with people jockeying for a spot to listen to a smattering of music for 2 minutes and rush to the next room. It afforded an opportunity to not only spend time with the manufacturers but also with people who were just down home audiophiles like me. One person even called himself and Audiofool! I thought that was not only riotously funny but probably pretty accurate for most of us. I saw some old friends, made some new ones and generally had a rousing good time.

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