Adelaide knife show
By Bjorn Jacobsen, November 2023.
The weekend of 18th and 19th November 2023 it was Adelaide Knife Show 2023. The show was held at the Adelaide Show Grounds and the KAA had done a great job as always marketing the show beforehand with radio ads and posters around Adelaide.
Chris and I flew to Adelaide for the show – or Chris did. My flight was cancelled by Virgin who rebooked me on a flight landing Saturday afternoon. After a bit of back and forth I had to pay extra to get put on an earlier flight on Saturday, missing “only” half of the show on Saturday. This turned out to be a theme for the weekend with both Chris’ and mine flights being cancelled by Virgin on Sunday back to Sydney – moving us to flying back on Monday (!). This time we were able to reschedule back to flying on Sunday (not having to pay extra even, woot woot) by flying over Melbourne. Way to go, Virgin.
Photo credit: KAA Facebook Page
The important stuff first; as all KAA knife shows there is a knife making competition with several categories before the show opens to the public. New and familiar faces won again this year, congratulations to the winners:
- Francois Mazieres
- Brad Quill Knives
- George Gao
- Ryan Simon Knives
- Barking Gecko Forge
- Copley’s Custom Creations
- Nick Edwards
It was great being back in Adelaide for a show, personally I had not been for several years. Chris and Riley went last year but I had not been since since it was at the Arkaba hotel, run by Peter Bald. The new venue looked great, with lots of space for both knife makers and suppliers like us to spread out a bit. Great to see the KAA carrying on the show and even having room to grow as the show keeps building momentum.
The show was a bit slower than it was last year, according to Andrew Smith from the KAA. This was also the impression we got from speakers with the custom makers there. It was a good show with a steady slow of people coming through. Guessing that is the general vibe these days with everyone feeling the pressure of higher inflation and rising costs.
It was great to be at a show again and we still got to talk knife making the whole weekend -so we are not complaining!
What sells at a knife show?
It is always interesting walking around the tables and seeing what is on display. Some like to specialise in their favourite style and that is what they bring to the table. Being hunting or chef knives mostly, with hunting knives generally including a sheath.
Makers like Mert Tansu come with a range of sizes and prices, but aimed at buyers wanting top notch chef knives. Makers like Bruce Barnett and Peter Bald offer a range of folding knives and makers like Jamie Bishop and Anthony Kittel like to have a wider spread, offering something for different budgets and use cases.
It seems fair to say sales were a bit down compared to earlier years, with some makers saying it was more interest in the cheaper knives this year. Chef knives is always popular at shows and tend to capture some of the higher sales prices, while quality folding knives also getting more and more attention at shows this year.
Josh Gaunt from GT Edgeworks and Ash Edwards from Celery Patch Knives were some of the many makers from South Australia at the show. Having fun talking with customers and other makers and possibly having a bit of a party afterwards ?
We had a great time walking around and checking out their work, it is such a great opportunity to actually handle other maker’s knives. Pick them up, get the feel of the weight and the balance. Compare lots of knives in a short amount of time to see what you like and then trying to figure out why you like it. What style do you want to make, are there points to pick up for your own making? (spoiler alert: yes, it is). And usually the maker is happy to share their process and tips for how to achieve this or that aspect of the knife.
Going to a knife show as a maker is a great way to learn not only about knife making but also to get to know other makers.
Saturday night is party time
After the show many of the makers headed over to the Arkaba, where the show used to be held. It was time for a well-earned drink and some food. After a long day on our feet it was nice to have a sit down, and talk about our day with the other makers.
Jake Mantel from Firepants Fabrication introduced us to West End beer. Hmm. We tried it but can’t say it will be a new favourite. It is awesome to try beers from wherever you find yourself, and Adelaide was not exception. But after trying hard, this one was maybe one we won’t be drinking again. There were lots of Coopers versions available and we might stick to these next time!
Last but not least, a massive Thank You to Michal Demian who came to the rescue when Virgin cancelled my flights for Friday. He showed up early Saturday morning to help Chris out and stayed for the whole day before helping us with the beers afterwards. He funnily enough refused to help with the West End tests but then again he lives in Adelaide so might have tried it before..
Thank you for having us, Adelaide! We'll be back next year for sure!