Louisville weather in mid-March is harder to call than the winner of the Sweet 16. MATS veterans can tell you that they've seen sleet, snow, thunderstorms, and heat and humidity - sometimes at the same show. I started tracking the weather forecasts about 10 days ago, and - so far - the predictions have been improving. This despite a huge Midwestern snowstorm. This worries me.
So I'm going to stuff a couple of those dry cleaner bag-style emergency ponchos in my backpack and also some sunblock. After all, if it snows, the sun reflecting off the snow and those shiny trucks in the show lot can give you a real burn.
What the well-dressed MATS visitor should wear is ... whatever is comfortable. Think about your feet. Ladies: Heels are definitely a no-no, since you'll be on concrete or gravel all day. Guys: Are your cowboy boots really more comfortable than sneakers?
I can't stress comfort enough. Even the journalist types have mostly abandoned suits and ties, skirts and jackets for more comfortable apparel (and hiking shoes or other sturdy footwear instead of wingtips). Just make sure your shirt or jacket is stout enough to hold all the pins and badges you'll clip onto it.
When I first started going to MATS, cell phones were still expensive and relatively rare. Finding a friend who had wandered off, or keeping herd on your family, could be a challenge. A couple years I took some handheld radios, though all the steel and concrete pretty much killed their effectiveness. Today's phones pretty much solve all those problems, but please - don't stand in the middle of an aisle while you tell Uncle Eddie back home all about the show. Pretend that the aisles are interstates and pull to the right out of the way if you need to talk or text.
Fully charge all your gizmos, and make sure your camera has lots of room for photos - maybe buy another chip just in case.
Pack some patience, too. Crowds will be heavy and the going slow at times. Parking - well, let's just say the back of the lot at a Montana truck stop will seem like next to the door compared with the parking lots at MATS. They are huge. Fortunately, the show runs a shuttle service that's really handy if you had to park in the next ZIP code. You may appreciate it even more at the end of a day of walking across a million-some square feet of exhibit space.
Got all that? OK, it's almost show time. See you there!