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PlanetChristmas Magazine September 2014

September 2014  |  PlanetChristmas  71 the class it was hard to spend time on individ-ual questions so it probably helped the teachers stick to their program. My favorite big hall class? Nutcracker. At one point the instructor had to kill some time while a program was loading on his computer so he pulled a recorder flute out of his bag and played us a Christmas tune. We loved it! When he was done playing the computer was ready. He related quite well to the pupils in his class. Then there was the vendor hall. It opened to great fanfare on Friday evening but I’ll have to admit it was a bit disappointing. Less than a dozen vendors and they all had really big booths many struggled to fill. The vendors were easy to talk to because it never seemed to be crowded. My favorite booth was Holiday Coro. He had lots of stuff for the DIY types. My next favorite was 3G Lighting Creations with all of their top quality wireframes. They also were making some pretty good deals. I even talked to the people in the 13th Street Morgue Halloween booth and they admitted we weren’t really “their kind of people.” My first thought was they were right. The social interaction at the Academy was odd, probably because I’m not from Texas. I’ll admit I didn’t venture to the gathering at Fudruckers on Friday night and that was probably where all the fun was had. It’s hard to put into words but all the time I was there I felt like I was attend-ing a club meeting and I wasn’t a member so people kept their distance. I drifted back to the hotel and ended up eating at a Mexican restau-rant right across the street. There didn’t seem to be a lot to do in Conroe. I flew back Sunday morning. Southwest did a good job packing the Houston airport with wall to wall people wanting to go home. One of the employees told me it was always like that on Sunday. Hint to those of you going to Houston: avoid William P. Hobby airport (HOU) on Sunday. Was the trip to the Texas Academy worth it? YES! I learned so much from very smart peo-ple. Overall I’d give the event a solid B. In the future if they could be friendlier and improve the vendor hall, it would be even better. Then there’s Christmas Expo. Not a bad website to find information but I’ll admit the $160 fee startled me after realizing it was twice the price of Texas. Expo appeared to have more happening over more days and I had attended it in the past so I hoped it would be worth the money. Getting to Christmas Expo in Biloxi, Mississippi wasn’t near the ordeal I expected. You flew into the grandly named Gulfport- Biloxi International Airport (GPT). The termi-nal was small and everything easy to find. The convention center was just a few miles down the road. I’ll admit it helped that one side of the road was the Gulf of Mexico with beautiful white sand beaches so I didn’t notice the traffic. I wish I had brought along my husband and kids because they would have loved the beach. I got to thinking that Christmas Expo had been in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in the past and it was another one of those towns geared for tour-ists. I realized Christmas Expo was striving to keep the entire family busy for a few days. That’s when I saw my first casino in Biloxi and thought the planners had pretty much thought of everything. The Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center was right on the main road in Biloxi, directly across from the beach. A big Christmas Expo banner was on the fence at the entrance and the event was prominently dis-played on the giant electronic sign. I was quite confident I’d found the right place. It’s a large facility with really easy parking. I walked in the front door, followed the signs and someone was


PlanetChristmas Magazine September 2014
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