By Jesse Robitaille
The British North America Philatelic Society (BNAPS) is set to kick off its first virtual convention, BNAPEX 2021 Virtual, in early September.
It comes on the heels of the in-person event’s cancellation – the second in a row – as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause uncertainty across the country despite widespread vaccination efforts. Instead of the three-day in-person event originally planned for Winnipeg, the virtual convention runs for five days, from Sept. 2-6, with much of the same aspects of a traditional BNAPEX. Featuring a competitive exhibition, study group seminars and – a rarity among virtual shows – a bourse, the convention is free and open to everyone to attend, but registration on the BNAPS website is required.
“After assembling a virtual convention team early in the year as a backup to the now postponed Winnipeg BNAPEX 2021, just about all facets of typical BNAPEX face-to-face conventions have been ‘virtualized,’” said BNAPS President Ron Majors, of West Chester, Pa., on Aug. 11.
Officials have been working since last November to develop the virtual convention to “resemble as closely as possible a face-to-face BNAPEX,” Majors told CSN earlier this year.
Now, as of early August, the registration process is “up and running,” he said, “and it all takes place on the BNAPS website.”
“Because of the effect the pandemic has had on our entire membership and to philatelists in general, we decided to give a gift to members and non-members alike … in providing everything for free.”
Not only is admission free, but the society also gave up its exhibit fees this year, meaning BNAPS members could compete in the virtual exhibition for free.
“So far, I think the set up of the virtual exhibits has been super easy to deal with,” said exhibitor Jean Wang, who’s competing at BNAPEX 2021 with a one-frame social philately exhibit.
She added she’s “happy, of course, that the exhibits were free this year, but it wouldn’t have stopped me in any case.”
After registering – a process taking less than a minute – virtual show-goers can begin browsing the exhibits, frame by frame, page by page. There are 115 frames across 45 exhibits, including competitive and non-competitive entries, all related to British North America (BNA) philately. All of the 45 exhibits will be uploaded by Aug. 22 and remain online until Nov. 1, “long after the convention is concluded,” Majors said.
As of the time of printing, 31 exhibits are uploaded.
“A full set of qualified and experienced Canadian judges are already hard at work evaluating the exhibits already loaded,” Majors added.
The jury, headed by chief judge David Piercey, is reviewing the exhibits online and consulting via Zoom to determine the medal levels and awards. Officials will then announce the competitive exhibit awards after the convention opens on Sept. 2.
In addition to Piercey, who’s the author of CSN’s “Philatelic Bookshelf” column, the jury includes:
- Huge Deshaye, of Québec, Qué.;
- Bill Longley, of Waterdown, Ont.; and
- Grégoire Teyssier, also of Québec, Qué.
STUDY GROUPS, MEETINGS GALORE
Some of the society’s more than 20 active study groups – a staple of BNAPS culture – are set to meet virtually during the five-day show this September.
With about two dozen meetings altogether, show-goers will be able to watch live and pre-recorded study group sessions, the exhibit judges’ feedback session, the BNAPS annual general meeting and more.