ALLENTOWN, PA -- After 17 years of organizing and hosting the popular Pinball Wizards Convention and Game Room Show, Brian Hein is stepping away from the flippers. The show held every year in Allentown, PA, had grown over the years, attracting more than 2,000 people from around the country at its peak.
"I'm retiring," Hein told VENDING TIMES. "It's a lot of work for my wife, Denise, and daughter, Tiffany. So I'm moving on to do other things."
The three-day event had expanded steadily since the first pinball show in 1993. "The first year we did the show, we held it in a firehouse in Trexlertown, PA," Hein recalled. "We sent out postcards to 60 people -- and 279 showed up. The firehouse was set up for 125 people, so we had a full house."
Often doubling attendance from one year to the next, venues for the annual spring show continued to grow to meet capacity until it had gotten so big that the Agri-Plex on the Allentown Fairgrounds became the logical location.
While some collectors and hobbyists are lamenting the loss of the Wizards show, there is hope for this active segment of coin-op. The Allentown spring show will likely continue under the direction of Ivan Lysykanycz, who runs Pinball Festival -- commonly known as PinFest -- which runs in the fall. Lysykanycz told VT that he plans to run both the fall and spring shows.
Collectively, the shows might be known as the "Pin Festivals," with the spring event taking the name "Allentown Spring Show."
"The spring show will still take place at the Allentown Fairgrounds, where it has been for the past eight years," Lysykanycz said. The 2011 event will be held from May 20 to 22.
Lysykanycz is no stranger to pinball conventions. His popular PinFest has attracted an increasing number of enthusiasts over the years. The most recent was held this year from Nov. 12 to 14, and it filled 10,000 square feet of exhibit space at Allentown's Merchant's Square Mall, along with 6,000 square feet in the mall's parking lot for a flea market. About 500 people attended.
As for Hein, he may be retiring, but he has no plans to miss the next pinball exhibition in Allentown. "This way I can become a participant, and tailgate with everyone else," he said.