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Pam Chin at ACA 2003, Cichlidfest Cincinnati. Photo by Eric Hanneman.
My favorite event of the year was finally rolling around! It was time to head to Cincinnati, Ohio for the annual American Cichlid Association convention. I took off early Wednesday, July 23rd. I checked my fish box as luggage, and asked for a hand check, rather than x-ray and hoped for the best. There has been a lot of talk lately about the possibility of your fish becoming sterile from the luggage x-ray procedure. You can request a hand check, but unless you actually see them do it, you are at their mercy.
This is the biggest cichlidiots gathering of the year, I hadn't planned on seeing any cichlid people on the way, but when I got to my connecting flight in Chicago, I was delighted to find a group of west coast guys on my plane. The party began; I would be with nothing but cichlid people for the next 5 days! The hotel was on the north side of the city, in a 9 story Best Western, that was probably a Sheraton at one point in time. We arrived about 5:00 in the afternoon; Caroline Estes met me at the front door, and helped me get all my stuff up to my room.
The show room at ACA 2003, Cichlidfest Cincinnati. Photo by Eric Hanneman.
That evening we hung out in the main area where registration was, watching for who was going to show up next. Knowing that the next 4 days would be fast and furious, I turned in around midnight to get good nights sleep.
Thursday's options included a tour of the Cincinnati Zoo, with the bus leaving at 9:00 AM and returned about 3:00 PM. I passed on the tour as this is also my vacation, and I wanted to sleep in. I wandered down stairs around noon, to hang out with my best friend Pam Marsh who sells T-shirts. Mean while Caroline is selling the new ACA t-shirt, that was designed by Pam Marsh, and featured a school of Tropheus moorii "isanga" on a black T-shirt. It is awesome!! I went to the grocery store with some cichlid boys on a beer run. It was called Jungle Jim's and it was like going to Disneyland to get your groceries. They had the largest selection of beer I have ever seen, and they guys were totally overwhelmed, however they filled the cart quickly and we were back at the hotel in record time.
Show winner, Ron Georgeone's awesome 'Cichlasoma' istlanum male. Photo by Eric Hanneman.
This evenings scheduled speakers included Randall Kohn on West Africans, Wayne Leibel on mouth brooding cichlids, Joe Szleszi on Discus and Joe Middleton on Panama. All of the talks were well attended, and received good reviews. I saw Joe's talk on Panama; he provided a PowerPoint presentation, which was quite interesting. I think he did a great job. More and More people are arriving as the evening goes on, and everyone is catching up with old friends and making new ones.
Friday morning was the tour to the Newport Aquarium, and bus left at 7:15 AM, I wanted to go, but that was way too early, and the Babes In The Cichlid Hobby Silent Auction needed to be started by noon, it was time to start working. There were so many generous donations; the response to our plea was answered beyond our expectations! As we set up the goods, the Cincinnati club was also doing the Guy Jordan Silent Auction, where fish donated by fish farms, fish stores and even hobbyists are auctioned off. All of the proceeds go to the Guy Jordan Endowment Fund, where the interest in the account is awarded to projects that involve cichlid research. There was some rare stuff available as well as some of the more common stuff. Each hour a new round of fish were up for auction, it is a yearly ritual, but this year it was right out in the open, and I am sure that helped bring in more money, for such a worthy cause.
Friday evening came quickly, and it was time for the speakers before we even realized it. Tonight was Jeff Cardwell on collecting in South America, Ad Konings on México, and Chris Persson on "Predatory Cichlids & the International Piranha Association. It was a packed house to say the least. I saw Jeff and Ad, who were both great as usual, but I missed Chris Persson, and I understand that it was great, his group is going to be the next generation of aquarists, according to a couple of old timers!
The banquet. Photo by Eric Hanneman.
Everyone staying at the hotel are now fish people, we have taken over. At 12:00 AM it was time for B.I.T.C.H. Midnite Madness. We wanted to everyone to see the slides from our most wonderful trip to Africa, each participant who wanted to, showed about 10 - 20 slides. Eric Hanneman topped it off with his video of the trip, it was fun, and it was well attended. Everyone then migrated to bed or the hospitality room.
Saturday morning began with programs by Dick Au on Discus and Paul Loiselle on West Africans. Right after lunch, Steve Lundblad was talking on "Lamps" and it was very good. Patrick DeRham followed him on Madagascar and Ad Konings on Lake Malawi. I found a minute to check the Fish Board, which has listings of fish that people are selling out of their rooms. As I cruised the board, I made a couple of new friends, and we headed up to a few of rooms to look at fish. This is always so much fun, to see what people have to offer, and how they have it set up in their room. It is like many mini pet shops on many floors! Before I knew it was time to get going and get ready for this evenings banquet.
Caroline, Pam and I were about ready to burst, since we have long known that at the banquet Ad Konings would receive an ACA Retrospective Award, in honor of his contributions to the hobby. I mean just think of where we would be with out his books alone. Not to mention how gracious he always is, he never tires of signing books and answering questions, always accessible to the hobbyist. Konings was the belle of the ball! And we were allowed to join the Ad Love-Fest, and contribute our own ADulations.
Ad Konings' ACA Retrospective Award. Photo by Eric Hanneman.
Ron Georgeone once again received Best of Show with his 'Cichlasoma' islantum, it was quite the specimen. Party, Party, Party….. I can't believe this is the last night.
I slept in until around noon, and then wandered down to check out the auction, that was already going. They had the fish spread out on the tables and it was easy to look through the bags. There was not a system as to which bag would go up next. So I just kept an eye on the bags I was interested in and when they went up to be auctioned, I made sure I was in the room. Always good to have an auction partner, let them know what you are looking for, and vice a versa, so when you aren't paying attention, they will slap you in to action! I was hanging with some Florida cichlid boys, and we had a good time. I would say half the auction was discus and angelfish; the most plentiful Rift Lake was probably Protomelas steveni "Taiwan reef." No peacocks to speak of, and what was there was going cheap. I think I got lucky when I ended up with two bags of 6 each, Aulonocara rostratum, you don't see them around every day, and I got them for a total of $25.00.
It is a sad day as people are leaving all day long. I have made so many good friends that I only get to see once a year. I have a hard time sitting still, and so I spent a lot of time at the tables looking at the fish. Prices were high in the beginning, and discus and angels continued to go for what I thought were quite high compared to what they would go for in my club.
Ron Georgeone's trophy table. Photo by Eric Hanneman.
Around 5:00 PM, only the die-hards were left, and the prices were a bit more reasonable, it was all over around 7:00 PM. It has become a tradition for many of the remaining cichlid people to have dinner together. Around 30 of us, shuttled over to an Outback for nice dinner and good conversation, which always seems to help end the convention on a high note. Then we headed back to the hotel for one last party night! It was well past midnight by the time I made it back to my room to pack up my fish and all the "stuff" I had collected over the weekend. I can't believe it is over, and I can't believe it will be another whole year before we all meet again in Denver!
Congratulations to the Greater Cincinnati Aquarium Society on a job WELL DONE!!!! Thank you, your hard work paid off, you did a great job!
Joe Middleton and the club snail staff. Photo by Eric Hanneman.
© Copyright 2003 Pam Chin, all rights reserved
Chin, Pam. (October 27, 2003). "ACA 2003, Cichlidfest Cincinnati". The Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on May 24, 2013, from: http://www.cichlidae.com/article.php?id=200.