Print Edition: November 23, 2011
The First Annual Vancouver Man’s Show (Nov 18-20, 2011) has just closed its doors at the Abbotsford Tradex Center. I had the opportunity to visit the show to see what the corporate world believes men are interested in and by default what being a man entails. Having been a man for at least three of the last five decades I was curious to see what, if anything, I’ve missed in life so far. I enlisted a friend of some 30 years to come along so I could to get the “real man perspective.” He continually tells me he is “more man than a man has a right to be,” so he seemed the best choice to get the cave man point-of-view.
The Vancouver Men’s Show is “the only men’s specific consumer trade show in British Columbia.” The Men’s Show fills the Tradex building with exhibitors and events designed to get men to open their wallets and buy, buy, buy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. That is the purpose of a trade show and everyone attending knows it. What makes the Vancouver Men’s Show refreshing is the fact that there is no-one trying to sell you veggie choppers, potato peelers, dusters, and the like. Nope, at the Men’s Show the approximately 300 exhibitors are trying to sell products of interest to men.
With all the man stuff on display at the show there is absolutely no way to do them all justice in one article, so I will focus on just a few of the exhibitors and products designed to increase the average man’s manliness quotient.
Explosions, there’s nothing like something blowing up to get a man’s attention and if somehow that can be related to cars so much the better. Fix Auto Collision put on a display where a car airbag was activated (which really is just another name for an explosion in a bag). The airbag was secured to a pallet and restrained with a safety net. The demonstrator told the crowd that he once activated an airbag with it upside down and unsecured. “[It took] ten seconds before it hit the ground,” he said. The demonstrator spoke for over six minutes about airbags and safety and I’m sure it was gripping info; I just wanted to see the airbag explode. Finally, 5-4-3-2-1 and then there was a surprisingly loud bang as the airbag was deployed. As you can see by the photograph the deployment happens so quickly it was fully deployed before the shutter closed. It was very surprising how much smoke was generated by the deployment. I couldn’t help wonder how much it would hurt to get hit in the face by a deploying airbag.
Weapons, what kind of men’s show would it be if there weren’t weapons? The Vancouver Men’s Show had multiple weapon exhibitors. All weapons were of the non-lethal variety, being of either the paintball or airsoft gun variety. Paintball guns shoot paintballs which are gelatin encased balls of paint (let me tell you when they hit you it can really smart). Airsoft guns shoot plastic pellets at fairly high velocity.
I spoke with Stanley Lam, a co-founder of MILSIG Paintball Canada. His company is the largest distributor of airsoft weapons. The company also designs and sells their own paintball guns, as well as distributes military gear and training weapons to law enforcement. Stanley explained to me that the airsoft hobby is huge and the weapons are more realistic than ever before. He allowed me to take a photograph of him to show the gear for a serious hobbyist. In the photo he is holding a Masada airsoft firing weapon, a sample of the latest generation of assault rifle and “the hottest airsoft gun right now.” The Masada shoots a 6 mm BB pellet and you will definitely know when you’ve been hit by it. The weapon and the gear Stanley is wore to the show cost between $1500 to $2000.
There really was a lot to see and do at the Vancouver Men’s Show. I watched a fellow getting a tattoo (not his first) and looking very stoic. I have no tattoos as screaming like a little girl has never been my most flattering quality. I watched people with absolutely no golfing ability attempt to sink balls into the hole. People were riding Segways who did not seem to realize how ridiculous the machines actually look. There were motorcycles, fast cars, speed boats, ski-doos, all types of water craft and a massive semi-truck with even more massive speakers.
The show was a three day event with different attractions offered each day. On Friday there was a comedy show and music from “Louder Than Love” and the Best Moustache Contest. Saturday had the BC Strongman Competition, Poker tournament and a Charity auction. Sunday had the Dodge Tailgate Party.
Even though it was called The Vancouver Men’s Show there were lots of women and children at the event and everyone seemed to be having a good time. If the turnout is anything to go by I’m sure the Men’s Show will become an annual event. In closing, if my wife happens to be reading this article, despite what my friend may have told you I did not hide the things I bought at the show in the car until you were asleep.