In 2003, when I joined AK, little did I know what lie ahead. Looking around at where I am now, I am filled with wonder at where I find myself. In a handful of years, I have met and become friends with so many good people, among the finest I know, truly a blessing. Those friends surround me, standing as I am, half a step from the centre of an amazing thing, AK Fest. Exhibitors, attendees, and Akers alike comment about how much fun AK Fest is. It would be foolish of me to disagree, since that is my aim, for everyone to have fun with this. Yeah, there’s business to do, for the exhibitors, but, as the years go by, more and more of them get caught up in the Fest culture, returning each year, vowing, at closing, to return for the next show. That ‘Fest family’ feeling is really gratifying, and this year seemed to me to be the high point, so far, of all our previous eight Fests. I wonder if we would have gotten to this point in our growth, if there had never been a Plaza hotel, for the first several Fests. Who knows? I will say that the Fest never would have reached these heights, without the Herculean efforts of a group of people, small in number, but huge in dedication, and in ‘heart’. Bear with me, please, as I call them to your attention. First, no discussion of the Fest can start anywhere but with the big man, Dave. Grumpy astounds me, each year, with the time and effort he puts in, finding and negotiating a suitable, improved venue. This year was a good one. Making phone calls and writing emails, literally by the thousands, to exhibitors, to fill the rooms. Even auditioning entertainment for Saturday night. Everything, from the largest to the smallest detail, is under his watchful eye. His workload would smother a committee of several, on a good year. Dave, thank you for setting a standard to which I can aspire. If I am able to help you reach your goal of making AK Fest the best it can be, then I am only too happy, my friend. The show’s success, and your satisfaction with it, is worth the work. Nancy, Ms Grumpy, is a human dynamo, with whom few, if any can keep up. By the time the Fest is looming large, she is logging many hours with Dave, or in rounding up all the many things that help keep the Fest running smoothly. Then on Fest weekend, she shifts from high gear to overdrive. All this, while still tending the three younger grumplings, never forgetting her family. Nancy, it is a pleasure to be able to help lighten your workload. Matt and Jeff are the two eager young men who lent their enthusiasm and their strength to the job of getting the Fest from the Goldstein home to the venue, and then helping the many vendors load in and out, a monumental task. As hard as they work, these two play hard, as well, but they earn it. Matt, Jeff, you two remind me that I have to make time for play, at the Fest, so I thank you for your work, and your lesson. Karen, it was a pleasure to meet you this year, and watch as you jumped feet first into the chaos that is the Fest. Your willingness to take on any task was much appreciated. To all the many AKers who offered their assistance, thank you. Your support made an excellent safety net, and kept us from feeling overworked. Ken, thank you for your extra efforts on the registration desk. You helped the ladies avoid burnout, and, since one of them is my lovely wife, I am especially grateful. Joanne, a friend of my wife and I, and my wife, Linda, have worked four Fests, now. Though you two may not ‘get’ the whole audio thing, I know that you love music, and so you have become part of the Fest family. Your cheerful disposition, even when you are down a pint on caffeine, puts a welcoming face on the Fest, for our exhibitors and guests. Thank you, Jo, for your patience, and expertise. Linda, my friends know how lucky I am to have you. You put up with my obsessions, both here at AK, and in my other interests. Thank you for that. Beyond that, you have come to appreciate my friends here at AK and the Fest, and they you. Not every man is so lucky. Damn few, I wager, but I am one of them. Our exhibitors are the foundation on which the Fest is built. Those who have become ‘regulars’ are more like friends than business colleagues. Even some of the reviewers are caught up in the Fest culture of fun. All of you go to great lengths to welcome in our guests, with a smile, play their music, and make the Fest a relaxed and inviting place to be. Thank you for your continued support, your hard work, and your generosity. Our guests are the reason for the Fest, now. Many of you know the story of how the Fest came to be. It was supposed to be a small gathering of friends which turned into a small show at a hotel, in 2003. Imagine, four systems set up in each of a few small ballrooms, one on each wall, and each owner getting 15 minutes to demo his gear, before yielding the floor to the next in line, waiting 45 minutes till his turn came back around. I believe that it is these very beginnings that formed the structure of the Fest, which has grown into a venue for manufacturers and dealers to show their product, but which still honours its roots in vintage and DIY. That ‘everyman’ facet of the Fest outlook welcomes everyone, regardless of their level of interest in audio gear. It is, after all, about the music, and there are myriad ways to enjoy it. To our guests, I hope the Fest was as much fun for you as it was for me. I know that we have seen people come back year after year, to renew their acquaintance with the Fest, and to have a good time. I really like that. Thank you. Last but certainly not least, to my fellow AK members, who travel from near and far, to come to the Fest, thank you. Some of you are my dear friends, and I look forward to seeing you during your annual visit. Some of you are close by, and we meet, still too infrequently. Some of you are friends we are just meeting for the first time. All of you are part of the AK legacy, and a big reason why we put in the many hours we do. If I have left out anyone, it is my shortcoming, for which I apologize. I look at the Fest, and my part in it, from my perspective, and I see my contributions dwarfed by others. These same people tell me that my efforts outshine their own. Maybe that’s the biggest reason why this works so well. The Fest is larger than any person or group, and each of us, who contribute to the organization and execution of it, relies on the rest of the stalwart team to help pull it off. From my vantage point, this was the best Fest yet. Thank you to everyone who had a part in that, in whatever way. Your participation makes it all worthwhile.