Chicago.

"Traveler, who now leave all of this behind / carrying only what it has made of you."  - James Richardson, "The End of Summer"
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Each March, a team from Lodge heads to Chicago to exhibit wares at the four-day International Home + Housewares Show. The show is enormous — so big you'd be hard-pressed to find an item in your kitchen or broom closet that doesn't have representation there. A gridded zoo of exhibitors spans three buildings, two of which are connected by an enclosed bridge crossing 9 lanes of traffic. I spent four days there and still did not see it all. 

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Lodge has been attending for the past 33 years, not counting the times it went in the 1930s back when the show was called the Annual National House Furnishing Exhibit. A few of us arrived early to help set up (and a few of us arrived early because of the impending ice storm that would cancel our flights from Nashville). We unpacked all our product from painted wooden crates like the one below and hung it on the walls and display shelves. In a sea of sterile, white booths, our exhibit stood out, warm and inviting.

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Our booth looked good thanks in large part to the work of one man. Tony (pictured above installing the flag) and his crew have been helping Lodge assemble its booth for the past 15 years. He knows where to place every board and wall and light. He's an essential part of the show, and our booth wouldn't look nearly as good without his work and direction.

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The show lasted four days, 8:30-5:00. Outside show hours, I got to know Chicago a little better. Our first dinner stop was White Oak Tavern, a new restaurant headed by Chef John Asbaty. He has a fleet of Lodge seasoned steel skillets, and wields them expertly, as we learned while dining on his delectable dishes that night.

Chef John Asbaty in his kitchen at White Oak Tavern. His Lodge carbon steel skillets were black as tar, they were so well-used.

Chef John Asbaty in his kitchen at White Oak Tavern. His Lodge carbon steel skillets were black as tar, they were so well-used.

The Chicago Tribune building.

The Chicago Tribune building.

The floor of the Chicago Tribune building.

The floor of the Chicago Tribune building.

A room in our hotel.

A room in our hotel.

Another notable stop was at Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, where I enjoyed a hearty biscuit and some complementary pie.

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Til next year, Chicago!