Enfilade, for those not in the know, is the flagship miniature gaming convention in the Pacific Northwest. It’s hosted by the Northwest Miniature Gaming Society (NHMGS) at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia and welcomes 350+ guests from Northern California to British Columbia, from the Olympic Peninsula to Montana each Memorial Day weekend.
Because there are rental spaces and room reservations, it involves money which creates a certain amount of risk and reward in a typical year. Sometimes we make a few bucks, sometimes we lose a few bucks, but we have an extremely capable treasurer who has made an art form of effectively managing our funds. Our contract with the Red Lion is quite fair–as long as everyone shows up in a typical year.
This is not a typical year. Or maybe you haven’t turned on the news lately. Or noticed that traffic is down 30% (in the Puget Sound area.) Or been surprised that you’ll have to clonk some poor old lady on the noggin in the parking lot in order to snaggle some toilet paper. I went shopping yesterday and could not get these items: hand sanitizer, ketchup, rubbing alcohol, tp, soup, or olives. Weird mix of items. Nobody seems to be stockpiling fresh vegetables.
But I digress. Unfortunately in this age of the Covid 19 pandemic, NHMGS finds itself confronted what is truly an existential crisis. To cancel our convention in the face of what is a real health crisis, would force NHMGS to pay severe penalties in the tens of thousands of dollars, and force us, a small non-profit, into bankruptcy. Many of our members on Facebook have expressed an interest in attending in the face of the illness. However, others have fairly expressed their view the convention is too great a health risk, a danger to their families should they attend, and we should fold. At this time that’s not an option. NHMGS is between a rock and a hard place.
However, there is a potential rescue on the horizon. No NHMGS won’t be included in the federal bail-out package. It is the government in the form of Governor Jay Inslee’s social distancing proclamations that offer our best hope of weathering this storm . At the present time Enfilade would not pass muster against the state social distancing requirements under the current state of emergency. In the event of government regulation, contract canceled, we can plan for 2021. Yay, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, that proclamation expires on March 31st. Back to gloom and hopelessness.
However it’s inconceivable Inslee won’t extend the ban. The virus shows few signs of relenting as time progresses. States are erecting strict “shelter-in-place” laws further limiting social interaction, and I fully expect it is simply a matter of time before Washington does the same. However, despite anticipation of a future extension or deepening of the current proclamation, it’s unclear how long it will last. Until April 30th? May 15th? That would be the worst, being in limbo until two weeks or so before the convention. We’d have few attendees, thus little revenue, and we’d suffer penalties under our contract. Not only that, but the penalties for canceling the convention ramp up the closer we get to our Memorial Day weekend dates. Bigger rocks, worse hard places.
I recently accepted the NHMGS interim presidency after our elected leader fell quite ill. Of course I wish him well and a full recovery. Unfortunately the convention is foremost on my mind. The good news is that I work with a group of really great people, friends for many years. We’ll find a way to make it work.