Keep your eyes peeled as you head toward Providence!  You are definitely likely to see some other ceramics folks heading the same way.  I start looking for people I know when I get to the Kansas City Airport.  In 2012, I was heading out to Seattle, walked down the aisle of the plan and ended up sitting right next to Gary Bates, our show manager from George Fern (that’s the company who handles all the setup on-site.  They’ve been contracting with NCECA for this task since 2002.  It so happens that the company is based in Kansas City.  If you see Gary at the conference, he’ll likely be wearing a Jayhawks cap.)  Anyway, I like to play a fun game I call “guess the potters”  (term potters used loosely to describe anyone who works in clay, btw).  It’s especially fun at the destination airport.  Anyone in a suit is automatically disqualified.  But I digress…..

sky-harbor-5If you’re flying in to the Providence Airport, you should know that it’s technically in Warwick, but don’t worry, because you’re back east….you can go through 5 cities in a mile, which is weird for this Kansas girl….here you can go 5 miles without a city (way more than that actually)…..In this case, the Airport in Warwick is 9 miles from downtown Providence.

So once you have your bags, you need to get to your hotel.  There is an Airport Shuttle, but beware it only runs until 7pm weekdays, and 5pm on the weekend.  It’s $11.77 one way or $23.54 round trip.  You can call in advance to make a reservation.  (401) 737-2868 or toll-free 1-888-737-7006.  When calling for a reservation make sure you tell them you are reserving for the NCECA conference.  They also have a desk available at the airport in baggage claim. If your lodging is at the Hilton, you will need to request service to the Omni which is two buildings from the Hilton (Convention Center and Dunkin’ Donuts Center).

If you fly in after shuttle hours, you can catch a cab.   Taxi’s from the airport to downtown: $40-$45 one-way.  OUCH!  This is where the “guess the potters” game comes in handy.  Seriously, I have no qualms about walking up to someone with a potter score of 12 or more and saying “Are you here for NCECA?  Wanna split a cab?”   Of course if you’re less bold than I am but equally “thrifty”, you can take the bus.  The Number 14 Bus runs Monday – Saturday and takes about 15 minutes.  The Number 20 Bus runs seven days a week but takes about 30 minutes.

Of course I’m doing neither, because I am flying in to Boston and then taking the Amtrak down, which is costing me $11 each way.  Yes, that’s cheaper than the Airport shuttle.  (This tip was mentioned in a previous blog post. If you missed it, you might want to look to the left…in the sidebar where it says “be the first to know” and subscribe to the blog.  That way you will get a short snippet in your email every time I post something.  Decide on your own if it’s something you are interested in from the 3 sentence preview.  If so, click to read, if not, delete!  I’ll likely have even MORE tips leading up to Kansas City, because that’s my stompin’ grounds!)  Back to the train.  If you haven’t already booked the Amtrak, you’ve probably missed the $11 fares.  So, for my equally cheap – I mean thrifty – friends, your best bet will be to take the MBTA directly to downtown Providence. (Weekday MBTA commuter rail service is available between Southern Rhode Island (Wickford Junction), Green Airport and downtown Providence, Attleboro, Boston (Back Bay & South Stations), Canton Junction, Mansfield, Sharon and South Attleboro, MA.  Daily service is available from Providence Station and those points.  UnknownFor both the Amtrak and the MBTA you will have to get from the Boston Airport to Boston South Station.   Once again, if the midwest farmer’s daughter (yes, I literally am.) can figure this out, you can to.  What you do is go to where all the busses come, which is basically outside of baggage claim.  Get on the SILVER line shuttle bus.  It’s a loop, so you can’t get it wrong, you’ll eventually make it to Boston South Station, but it is a shorter trip one way rather than the other, so check that when you get there.  From there, as I recall, you have to exit the bus terminal and walk across the street to the Train and Rail terminal.  There were signs.  I followed them.  You can buy your MBTA pass there, or if you already have Amtrak tickets, download their app to your smart phone, and they can scan that.  Once you get to the downtown providence station, it’s a little less than a half mile walk to the Omni (slightly farther to the Hilton, which is attached to the OTHER side of the convention center)  It’s really a beautiful walk too.  Now, I know what you’re thinking …..  BEAUTIFUL?  Isn’t Providence still buried in snow?  Won’t I FREEZE walking?  As I write this, it is still below freezing in Providence, but check out the forecast for the week of the conference:

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That’s not too bad at all….well above freezing during the day, mostly sunny (except for Thursday…but hey, doesn’t it ALWAYS seem to rain on the Thursday of NCECA?)  Unless you’re from the South, 40s and 50s should feel completely comfortable.  Heck, around here, that’s shorts weather!

riccOnce you’ve reached your hotel, get checked in, then, starting at noon on Tuesday, you can go pick up your NCECA packet at the Convention Center.    Both the Hilton and the Omni are attached to the Rhode Island Convention Center. There will likely be plenty of signs pointing the way.  If you’re bringing a cup to donate for the NCECA Cup Sale, that will be in the Rotunda, which is the beautiful room shown here at the left that anchors the Convention Center.  Registration is in the Pre-Function area of the convention center.   Here’s a link to all the Registration in the web version of the NCECA App, and here’s the map from the app:


In case you can’t clearly see that, if you’re coming from the Omni, you will come into the convention center over by the NCECA Gallery Expo area.  From the Hilton, you’ll enter where the Skybridge to the Dunkin’ Donuts center is.  Now, here’s an important tidbit, and please help me out by passing this around.

The Resource Hall will be locked on Tuesday while exhibitors are setting up.  You can not get in to poke around in there or even say hi to a person you know is in there.  Even if it’s your Mom.

This is a change from years past.  There are a couple of reasons – 1. Safety.  There are forklifts moving around, pallets abound, and people scurrying all over.  2. Efficiency.  Having been an exhibitor in the Resource Hall, I can tell you that Tuesday’s setup can be a whirlwind, to say the least.  The commercial exhibitors have about 3-4 hours to get all of their booth display items set up, stocked up and ready for you.  And they’re hungry….and hot….and sweaty, and while they are truly and honestly thrilled to see you, they also want to get their job done so they can relax and explore.   We know you’re excited to see all your friends.  Just give it 3 more hours…then check the bar.  I bet you’ll find them.

So, since you can’t wander the Resource Hall, you should pop back to your room to check out the contents of the bag!  If you’re an NCECA member, you should have a copy of the NCECA Journal in your bag.  That makes for great reading on the flight home, but it’s also good to peruse in advance.  It contains abstracts from most of the presentations at the conference.  You should also have a copy of the PROGRAM GUIDE.  This is basically the printed version of the app.  You will also have 2-3 brightly colored small slips of paper in there.  These are important AND TIME-SENSITIVE.   I won’t tell you what they are, but it involves free things, so look for those and follow the instructions on them.  You’ll also find a beautiful envelope containing emerging artist cards…because why should sports rookies get to have all the glory?  Then there’s always a lot of other fun stuff that you get in your bag, compliments of the non-profit and commercial exhibitors, mostly.  Some may have special offers you can redeem in their booth, sometimes there are some fun gifts included, or there might be a postcard with details about a great show you will want to enter.  I just LOVE looking through my bag immediately, (and then again when I get home as I reminisce about all the magical moments…)