Isn’t it funny how somebody’s peculiar hobby can introduce you to a whole new world? Such was the case when I attended a blacksmithing convention in Troy, Ohio with family members.
This ancient art form has a new and lively twist as expertly demonstrated by the folks at SOFA – Southern Ohio Forge & Anvil. Their annual Quadstate Roundup proved to be a fascinating weekend, even to the uninitiated such as myself.
The blacksmith convention is held each year in September at the Troy Fairgrounds. It’s a large gathering of interested hobbyists and professionals along with demonstrations, lectures, and a keynote speaker. Vendors selling all manner of unusual looking tools and supplies line the fairground roads, and there’s plenty to see and do all weekend.
Several buildings house the convention’s venues. In a large barn complex, free blacksmithing lessons are available where you can try your hand at hammering red-hot iron. A forging competition is held in the evening, where teams compete to finish a project in a short time limit. It’s a loud smoky event, with sparks flying in all directions, and was great fun to watch and cheer on the teams.
Also on exhibit are samples of ironwork from convention attendees. Prizes are given in several categories, and the workmanship is something to be admired.
RV camping is provided on the fairground property, in proximity to the exhibits. Sites are in the grass, and electric service can be requested in advance. Campers are likely to be deep into the hobby of metal forging, and all seemed willing to spend a few minutes to educate newbies or to pass along smithy tips.
Troy, Ohio is a great little town to tour around, with a canal and waterfront park accessible from the fairgrounds. Troy is a clever mix of Victorian homes and shotgun houses, along with boutiques and local-flavor restaurants. The Troy Fairground usually hosts a large flea market on the same weekend as the SOFA convention, and it’s an easy walk to the other side to do some shopping.
It was great fun learning about blacksmithing, and to meet many interesting men and women who test their muscles daily with fire and steel. So stretch your imagination and come out to the Quadstate Roundup next fall!
July 5, 2013