Good Lord permitting this will be my 18th year at the Southern; the inaugural event, and 17 years on behalf of the LCSCA. I'll be at my usual spot inside the LC/Parker tent and easy to recognize; the old white haired guy with a limp. It'd be a privilege to meet some of you guys posting here; so please come by if you're there and make an introduction.
Things have changed dramatically since that first ever Southern Side x Side consisting of one small tent about two thirds occupied and low attendance. Nowadays the grounds are covered by three large tents (no room for any others), exhibitors have to reserve their booth space a year in advance, there's barely room to park, and it's elbow room only inside the tents. The LC/Parker tent down by the "dove field" is also a beehive of activity, but what appeals to me most is the friendship and fellowship that make this event what it has become. People come from all over the US, and certainly not for the shooting, but to visit with the friends they've made over the years; it's a "reunion" they look forward to each and every year. The only sad thing is that each year it seems another member of this great contingent has passed away, so we honor his memory and recall the great times. To illustrate how strong some of these attachments become consider this story. A few years ago an LCSCA member arrived at the Southern suffering with terminal cancer; and he did so because he was determined to be there regardless of his circumstances. This individual was a very good clays shooter and suffered through very obvious pain to make the LC Challenge Team, helping Team LC win the Cup. In speaking with this individual afterwards he told me it had been his goal to be at the Southern just one more time, visit with his friends, and to shoot as well as he could in the event. He passed away a few weeks afterwards; but his determination made an everlasting impact on me. Until one has attended and experienced the warm friendly atmosphere of the Southern it's impossible to understand the appeal so many attendees feel. I for one hope it continues and encourage anyone who's yet to attend to do so if possible; none of us are getting any younger. Tom