I am no stranger to exhibiting, I've done over 70 shows with about 5 or 6 layouts over the past 30 years. The most I've done with any one layout so far, is 42 shows with my 'Walmington Pier Tramway'.
I have exhibited this 3ft x 6ins plank as far north as Norwich, East to Southwold, West to Slough and south to Folkestone - I have exhibited at shows varying from excellent to the very few that I wouldn't set foot in again!
In my case it's not all about shuttling a tram back and forward along a 3 feet plank, it's about presentation, where you don't just sit there in miserable silence operating a controller (those exhibitors do get up my nose, especially when they ignore your questions). You sit up or stand, look enthusiastic and look welcoming, people sense that and will come to you, then you do what I do, point out the cameo scenes, invite children to follow the tram with their eyes and ANSWER QUESTIONS. You may have heard the same question hundreds of times over the exhibition weekend, but you must answer it as keenly as you first heard it. After all, that person who asked the question - for him it is the first time he spoke to you and he wants to go away happy and knowledgeable.
You will get the 'clowns' some belong to a club, some belong to another forum, who will try and 'bait' you or just wind you up with their constant criticism and their misguided sense of 'humour' - try and not stoop to their level, that's what they want, just keep silent and if that doesn't work refer them to the 'Thomas' layout where they will no doubt feel more comfortable.
Now we come to children - most are reasonably well behaved, but you do get the 'finger prodders' "please don't touch" or be a little stronger if necessary "gerroff", the 'trumpeters' (98+dB from a 6 years old who can drown out a 747 during takeoff) "I'm not deaf, but I soon will be", the 'blind' (Who must have physical eyeball contact with your layout) and those who endanger their and your own lives by swinging from barriers, or standing on chairs above you and over-reaching. My two prize specimens were: a child with "learning difficulties" who came up to Walmington Pier Tramway in full view of his parents picked up the tram and threw it to the ground. The other was a child who ran towards my Routes End layout and toppled it onto me. I have messages to those parents:
1. Learning Difficulties or not, the world will not always dance to your child's tune.
2. Forget the insurance, if I threatened civil damages against you, perhaps you would think twice about your childrens actions.
It would take a very brave exhibition manager to write these clauses into his exhibition programme:
"Damage incurred to any exhibit by a member of the public will result in that person being liable".
"Anti-social or disruptive behaviour by members of the public will result in their expulsion from the exhibition venue and the police informed".
Yes we are there for the public's benefit, but that doesn't give them the right to damage our handiwork.
Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy exhibiting, it's just I've learned to be more selective.