Steve Shackleford Blog

35th BLADE Show Enjoys Record Crowds

Joe Keeslar

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Joe Keeslar (at table) has the full attention of his students during his BLADE U. class on leather sheath and pattern making.

Record crowds, unbelievable knives, the world’s best makers, the BLADE Magazine 2016 Knife-Of-The-Year Awards and so much more highlighted the 35th BLADE Show June 3-5 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta.

Featuring almost 1,000 exhibitors covering all segments of the cutlery industry from over 20 countries in the world’s largest knife show, the event kicked off Thursday with the 3rd Annual BLADE University. The comprehensive school of knifemaking began by featuring Knives The American Bladesmith Society (ABS) Way, including how to forge and heat treat knives, how to make a cut ‘n shoot knife, pattern making and making a leather sheath, and how to make the dogbone bowie handle, all taught by some of the world’s top bladesmiths.

The show proper kicked off noon Friday with VIP ticket holders pouring into the show hall after waiting for hours—some as long as from the day previous—in long lines that snaked all though the show lobby and beyond. And once the patrons flooded the show hall, the race was on to get to their favorite exhibitor’s/exhibitors’ tables and booths. All told, more people attended the show the first two days of the event than for the entire show last year—and last year’s show enjoyed the highest attendance ever until this year’s rendition. A number of exhibitors commented on the large crowds, with many selling out of knives the first day.

The custom knife competition was conducted Friday, with Mike Quesenberry and Saign Charleston winning for both Best Collaboration and Best In Show to highlight the 16 awards in total. BLADE University also continued Friday with such classes as how to grind a knife, building and tuning a flipper folder, bushcraft knives survival school, how to build a knife from a kit and how to make a spike tomahawk. Friday night the ABS announced the new inductees to its Hall Of Fame, including ABS master smiths Harvey Dean, Jim Crowell and Greg Neely. They will be formerly inducted along with others in Little Rock, Arkansas, Aug. 6.

With enormous crowds continuing to swarm through the show hall, Saturday saw knives bought and sold by the score. BLADE demos included knife and tomahawk throwing, Japanese sword-cutting and others. Nicole Warden won the first-ever BLADE Show Women’s World Championship Cutting Competition and Dan Keffeler took the 14th Annual Men’s World Championship Cutting Competition—winning an unprecedented fourth title and fourth in a row. BLADE University presented classes on how to make knives on a budget, how to make a combat dagger, how to get your knife design put into production, how to be a contestant on Forged In Fire and more.

Saturday evening witnessed the BLADE Magazine Awards Reception highlighted by the Knife-Of-The-Year Awards, CJ Buck’s induction into the BLADE Magazine Cutlery Hall Of Fame©, Mel Pardue winning the Edda and Aldo Lorenzi Award, and BLADE Magazine/F+W Media being presented the inaugural American Knife & Tool Institute Industry Integrity Award for aiding in the battle to fight counterfeit knives.

Sunday saw more activity—even by Sunday standards it was a busy day—and show patrons left with their knife bags full and wanting more. They will have to wait another year for the next show, though, which will be held June 2-4, 2017, once again at the Cobb Galleria Centre. Make plans now to attend. If you love knives, you’ve got to go!

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