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Last year’s Woodworking in America Hand Tools & Techniques conference totally caught me off-guard. It was my first conference to work, and I came in with very little expectations , both of how much I would enjoy the conference, and what kind of behind-the-scenes jobs I would be a part of.

Because of my unique role, most of my favorite moments took place outside of any conference session. I’ll never forget when Roy Underhill and I were fumbling around a pitch-black theatre stage frantically searching for a light switch, or when I compared Adam Cherubini to a certain American icon.

But there was one moment I shared with all of the attendees, and one that definitely stays on my mental highlight reel , Roy Underhill’s keynote address.

Sitting down after a long day of sessions and enjoying the camaraderie with fellow woodworkers made the banquet great, but being present while St. Roy delivered his speech made the evening , for lack of a better word , magical.

I learned about early American woodworking, soaked up some history on our forefathers, and cried with laughter over a story about a snake. If at any point you might have questioned why you attended the conference, this was the reason.

We asked all those who had attended our recent Furniture Design & Construction conference in St. Charles, Il “what was the most valuable aspect of your conference experience?”. One attendee said “[Thomas] Moser’s keynote address… Roy Underhill was so spectacular at Berea, that I thought it couldn’t be topped, but Moser equalled Roy in a different sort of way. Good luck in trying to keep this up!!”

Well I just got an e-mail from Roy Underhill, who will be this year’s keynote speaker at Valley Forge, and I think he’s going to raise the bar once again. From the words of St. Roy:

“The keynote will include the live premier performance of a rare radio woodworking drama from 1937. Set in Valley Forge during the darkest days of the American Revolution, you’ll thrill to the exciting saga of intrepid American woodworkers as they help George Washington and his men fight their way out of a cruel Hessian prison camp. Directed by Roy Underhill, the program stars your favorite woodworkers performing the various roles and sound effects. Bring your decoder ring! ”

I can’t wait.

— Drew DePenning

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  • Mattias in Durham, NC

    Thanks for posting that video. Wonderful stuff. Please post the keynote afterwards for those of us who can’t go… it is sure to be great fun.

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