I.B.M. Ring 129
Kansas City, Missouri
Heart of the Ring Newsletter
by Steve Steiner
The long-awaited IBM/SAM Combined Convention was held in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. A virtual who's who of magic attended the week-long convention billed as the "Magic Event that the World has been waiting for...". This was the first such combined convention in 35 years and those in attendance vowed that it wouldn't be another 35 years before the event happened again. (Read More)
Included among the 1,900+ attendees were approximately 25 members of our own IBM Ring 129. So many in fact that it caught the eye of former IBM International President and long-time Ring 129 member, Roger Miller and his wife Sheila. Upon seeing the huge Ring 129 contingency, they hosted a mid-week reception for all those club members in attendance during the convention week. This was a terrific non-advertised addition to the convention schedule and I understand there were other such impromptu gatherings throughout the hotel.
Organizers of the convention set out to make this combined convention somewhat different from the way their two respective conventions were traditionally run. From the beginning, they set out to make the convention "contest orientated" by offering a $10,000 prize to the winners of the close-up and stage contests. The prize money quickly grew to include another $50,000 in contract offers to the finalists in each category. The prize money served to draw in acts from all over the world, one third of which were from the Far East countries of China, Korea, and Japan.
The convention also featured over thirty professional headliner from around the world who performed in several evening gala show events. Interspersed around the 100 different contest and headliner magic act performances during the week, were several "Once in a Lifetime" lectures.
After observing contestants during the week, the panel of six international judges narrowed it down to six finalists in close-up and six finalists in stage. Those finalists performed on Saturday and the winners were chosen by a vote of the audience. Only one winner in each category was announced in the final event of the convention, the awards ceremony unlike any other seen before.
What made the ceremony different was the parade of various magic conventions and magic events announcing their contract offers to the various finalists seated upon the stage awaiting the announcement of the grand champion for their respective contest. In the end, An Ha-Lim from South Korea won the Stage Contest with his astounding and endless card production routine. Marc Oberon from Nottingham, UK won the Close-Up Contest with his smooth and polished routine in which he turned each of his manipulative items into gold. Considering the wonderful atmosphere of downtown Louisville, the convention gifts (including an oversize bronze commemorative coin) given to attendees by convention organizers, the packed dealer rooms, the late night visits with fellow registrants, this event was truly a convention to remember!
[Steve Steiner has become very active in the Kansas City based, I.B.M. Ring 129, serving as one of the ring’s board of directors and editor of the club’s monthly newsletter. He currently performs a variety of shows for children and adults in and around the Kansas City area with his main interest being in stage magic. In August of 2006, Steve won the Stage Magician of the Year Contest at the Midwest Magic Jubilee in St. Louis, Missouri. That following year, Steve won the honor of the Ring 129 Stage Magician of the Year.]