On the demise of SOAR

I received an email yesterday that announced that this year’s SOAR (Spin Off Autumn Retreat) will be the last. I am surprised, and saddened. I know some of the sadness, frustration, and anger that the SOAR staff must be feeling right now, having to make that announcement.

There are no photos below, only memories.

This year, the event will be held just outside of Chicago. I believe that this will be the 31st year that the event will be held. There’s a thread on Ravelry that discusses the great memories that SOAR go-ers have of the event. I shared there, and I’m going to share here as well.

SOAR 2006, at Granlibakken resort in Lake Tahoe, CA was my first time attending. I was still a newlywed, and this was my first big trip alone. I had gone into Macys on my way home from work, and came out with an ENORMOUS suitcase with four rolling wheels. I was NOT going to be held down by my luggage, and I wasn’t leaving anything home. I put everything but my wheel, and the kitchen sink into that bag. Handcards? No problem. Combs? Sure did. Airport security must have LOVED that. I packed clothing for a month, because I had no idea what the weather would be.

I shipped my Ashford Joy out to the resort the week before, and spent a week fretting that it wouldn’t get there, or that it would be broken when it arrived.

I arrived at BWI, checked that enormous bag, and was on my way. To get to Lake Tahoe, CA, you have to go to Reno/Tahoe airport, and take a shuttle for an hour. There are slot machines in the airport. I had no idea what to make of that.

When I arrived at the airport and picked up my bag, I went looking for the shuttle I had booked. I figured it would be there, waiting for a bunch of people. Well, the people were there, but there was no shuttle. I met Anne Merrow that day on the shuttle, and I learned not to be surprised by flocks of spinners in the wild.

That first trip I had a single room in a little house with people I count as friends to this day. Toni Neal of The Fold was rooming with Francine from Rovings. Betty and Dianne, who I will always think of as a matched set rounded out our quintet. Francine’s daughter Michelle came by to help out later in the week.

That was the year I took Spinning 201, and met Heather Ordover of CraftLit fame. It was the start of my life in fiber, really.┬áThat was the year that the Joy took almost three weeks to come home. I was ever so grateful that it wasn’t my only wheel.

I’m so desperately going to miss my regular October outing. The event has been on borrowed time for a few years. The economy is still bad, and classes haven’t been full. I’m sure that this event runs on just as small a margin as Spin-U did. If the classes don’t fill, the event looses money. Let me say that again: If the classes don’t fill up, the event LOOSES money. Not just doesn’t make money, but actively hemorrhages money. I suspect that Spin-Off the magazine may be in a similar boat, and that we may see its demise in the next few years.

I love this event so much that when I thought up Spin-U I was calling it “SOAR for NY”, wanting to make it that type of event.

I hope to make this year’s SOAR the best one ever. I resolve to be outgoing and fun and to talk to people and to learn everything I can, because there won’t be another chance. Here’s to the big SOAR party!