Countdown to the 2013 Symposium in 91 days. Symposium August 23-25
On behalf of the Southwest Association of Turners, welcome to our site!
The Southwest Association of Turners (SWAT) is an all-volunteer not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose sole purpose is to provide an outstanding educational opportunity to anyone interested in woodturning.
Organization Structure and Goal
SWAT is an organization of 27 supporting chapters from the American Association of Woodturners. The clubs are from Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas we sponsor an annual woodturning symposium. The aim is to provide a live forum-venue for the education and skill development of those interested in woodturning.
A Brief History
The large regional woodturning symposium known as SWAT has quite a heritage. It got its start in October 1992, when a modest group of Texas turners decided to get together under some large live oak trees near the Colorado River in Columbus, Texas. They couldn’t have imagined what they were starting. With the hope of attracting 50 people they attracted 80. That was the beginning of what has turned into the second largest woodturning symposium in the world. The gathering became known as Texas Turn or Two, and continued for ten years under that name.
The symposium was conceived and organized by a group of Texas turners who met at the home of Bob Rubel in San Marcos. Among those attending that get-together were Gary Roberts, Clay Foster, James Johnson, Larry Roberts and Mark Potter. That gathering led to the idea that it would be great to have a regional woodturning symposium that could be attended by those who had neither the time nor the money to go to a national event. The four or five AAW chapters then in Texas got to work. The idea at first seemed likely to founder since no one could come up with a site that wasn’t too expensive. A few days later, Mark Potter decided that he could move things around in his cabinet shop near Columbus and host it there.
Since the first gathering was to be held in Columbus, it was decided to hold it on Columbus Day. The demonstrators agreed to demonstrate without a charge and the principals decided that if they could get 50 people, they would break even.
On the appointed day, folks began to wend their way down the dirt road a couple of miles outside of Columbus. Soon there were motor homes, trailers, pop-ups and tents scattered all around the area under the big live oak trees. The event was a success! They more than broke even, with approximately 80 attendees. The event returned to Columbus the next year, with John Jordan as the first invited featured demonstrator. By then it had outgrown Mark Potter’s shop!
From 1994 through 2000, the Texas Turn or Two symposium was held at Maricopa Ranch RV Park west of New Braunfels, near Canyon Lake. Eventually, attendance became so large that just accommodating everyone at the demonstrations was a major challenge. Add to that a ferocious rainstorm that very nearly swamped the event in 2000, with cold rain blowing in under the demonstration tents and falling into the dining tent and tent where the vendors had their (mostly cast iron) wares to sell.
It became obvious that larger facilities would have to be found, and the event moved to San Angelo for the 2001 Texas Turn or Two. In 2002, the symposium was reorganized as Southwest Association of Turners and held its annual symposium in Wichita Falls. Both the name change and the location were undertaken to make the event more accessible to woodturners from nearby neighboring states. In 2004, the event was held in Temple in central Texas, to make it more accessible to its Texas membership base. The event returned to Wichita Falls in 2005.
The Fifteenth Annual SWAT Symposium, now sponsored by eighteen woodworking clubs in Texas and Oklahoma, was held in Temple again in 2006. This was the largest and most successful gathering yet, with some 580 attendees.
The sixteenth annual Southwest Association of Turners Annual Symposium was held in Wichita Falls, Texas on October 5-7, 2007. Our association membership now included 22 woodturning clubs in Texas and Oklahoma. Six lead demonstrators and twelve regional demonstrators gave a total of 58 demonstrations over the run of the symposium. Attendees from Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Washington enjoyed the three-day event.
The seventeenth annual Symposium was held in Waco, Texas on October 17, 18 and 19, 2008 with an attendance of 582 registered attendees .This Symposium offered the largest group of vendors to date, totaling 25. The Instant Gallery was again a very success and had the added attraction of a Gallery Raffle that was well received. The 2008 Symposium slate of national leads was the largest number offered in the history of SWAT.
The twentieth annual symposium was held in Waco, TX in 2011 with the largest attendance ever. In 2012 the symposium was again held in Waco with 812 attendees.