It's that glorious time of year - homeschool curriculum fairs and conventions are springing up everywhere!
Two of them are close enough to me that I can attend both almost every year. The MACHE Curriculum Fair happens at the end of April, and is a curriculum fair only, with vendor halls but no speakers or workshops. Sometimes a group of moms from our homeschool group gets together for breakfast on the Saturday morning and then carpools to the fair. Without needing to watch the clock to get to a seminar or workshop, at this fair I can simply browse the vendors and make decisions on what items from my shopping list or wishlist are best.
(Have to tell this funny story - before the MACHE fair this year, my kids were wondering what the letters stand for. Kennady asked Landon, and he thought a minute and said, "Middle Aged Christian Homeschool something. I don't know what the 'E' is for." Bwaa haaa haaa!!! Not too far from the truth in my case! Seriously, it's Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators. I think at least one other state - probably Minnesota - has a state homeschool organization called MACHE.)
The second event I like to attend is the CHAP Convention, which takes place in Harrisburg, PA in the middle of May. It's this coming weekend, actually. This is a HUGE event with I-don't-even-know-how-many vendors, special speakers, vendor workshops, and speaker workshops on all kinds of topics. There are workshops geared especially for kids and for teens as well. I plan my shopping in the vendor halls around the workshops I plan to attend. Most years I attend this one with a friend or two, and share the cost of gas. I've had the good fortune to meet up with homeschool friends that I've met online too.
My usual strategy is to research ahead of time. I like to have a list prepared of the resources that I'm thinking about adding to our homeschool, and the prices and shipping rates if they are available for purchase online. Whenever I can, I prefer to hold a book in my hands and look through it before deciding to spend my money on it. Armed with a shopping list that includes the prices online, I know whether it's better for me to buy it that day at the fair, or purchase it direct from the vendor's website. The trade-off is often in shipping cost and sales tax. I usually don't have to pay sales tax when I buy online (and I hope that continues to be the case), but on some purchases at conventions, I do. However, I don't have to pay shipping at CHAP. But I will have to lug around anything that I buy.
Advice for those who may not have attended conventions before: Make that shopping list! Have a good idea what you're looking for and the price range. If you decide to buy at the convention, I recommend taking note of the items you want to purchase and the price - I jot notes directly on my vendor hall map so I know where I found that perfect book at a great price - then go around to make those purchases right before you leave. That way you'll know you got the best price, and you won't have to haul that stuff around all day. (Although CHAP offers a Book Check service for a small fee.) Your back will thank you. So will the other convention-goers like me that are annoyed by having to dodge all the huge wagons and crates on wheels.
Other less practical advice: contrary to popular belief, you do not need to wear your hair in a bun, or wear a denim jumper to rock your day at the homeschool convention. If you get there and feel like you're in the minority, don't worry because there's almost always an EZBun vendor that will set you up with what you need. ;-)
|Kennady models her new hair accessory. I couldn't pass it up.|
Do you attend homeschool curriculum fairs or conventions? If you'll be at CHAP, let me know - I'd love to meet you! No matter how you wear your hair!
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