Hello again from London. Today was the second day of the three-day genealogy/history/heritage conference held at the Olympia Exhibition Hall. The doors opened at 10 AM and, like yesterday, I approached the building at 9:55 AM. This time there was one major difference from yesterday: the queue of people waiting to get in was at least five times as long as yesterday's line! It went from the front entrance, up the street, around the corner and then stretched back for another long block on the next street. What’s more, the queue also stretched for some distance in the opposite direction. I never did see the end of the second queue; I have no idea how long it was.
I went for coffee.
Some time later I returned and was able to walk in into the exhibition hall without waiting. The place was already mobbed.
Today's exhibit was about the same as yesterday's (see my earlier description of Day #1 at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2008/05/wdytyal-day-1.html) with one obvious exception: today's crowds were much larger. I guess that makes sense. The first day of this exhibit was Friday, when many people are working and when the early morning train fares into London are expensive. On Saturday more people have the day off, and the train fares are much lower. The results were obvious: the Olympia Exhibition Hall was packed almost all day long.
I never cease to marvel about what a great venue the Olympia Exhibition Hall provides. According to Wikipedia.org, Olympia is an exhibition centre in West Kensington, London. It opened in the 19th century and was originally known as the National Agricultural Hall.
Erected in 1886 by Andrew Handyside of Derby, it covers an area of four acres. The Grand Hall, 450 feet in length, by 250 feet in breadth, was said at that time to be the largest building in the kingdom covered by one span of iron and glass. By the 1900s, Olympia was regularly hosting the Royal Tournament.
Another major advantage of holding a major show in the same venue year after year is that the organizers get a chance to keep refining the processes involved. This was obvious at this year's event. It is the second year the "Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE!" conference was held at this location, and the organizers obviously learned a lot from last year's effort. The current show is being held in a larger hall, and the layout seems better organized, as I mentioned in yesterday's report.
Again, exhibitors displayed their products and services all day long. Stage shows took place throughout the day, and several notables from the "Who Do You Think You Are" television program made presentations on the multiple stages.
In another area the crew at the Nieuport (pronounced "Newport") fighter plane (a World War I aircraft on display) held skits off and on all day to show what life was like for the fighter pilots and their gunners. While amateurish, the skits did illustrate several fascinating facts. For instance, did you know that some of the pilots went into battle with as little as 14 hours of flight training? I am a private pilot and well remember my level of expertise after 14 hours of training. I was not ready for dogfights and don't see how these World War I pilots did any better. Of course, many of them did not survive.
I was able to record a number of interviews today for later playback on RootsTelevision.com. These will become available over the next two or three weeks.
I will tell you my favorite booth at the conference: the Italian geloti (ice cream) stand. A large cup of Pistachio geloti tasted great near the end of the long afternoon!
I took many more pictures today. You can see a selection of them at http://blog.eogn.com/photos/wdytyal2008day2.
For those who are unable to attend this year's "Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE!" event, I hope these pictures give you a "flavor" of what transpired.