The first NQC we attended was Nashville 1986. Brenda and I went to see what it was all about, as we were considering exhibiting. We stayed with friends who lived 200 miles (yes, 200 miles!) from Nashville and drove in for a couple of the nights.
We began exhibiting in 1989 in Nashville when we were singing with our parents, known then as “The Gospel Foundation.” The inner and outer circle, pie-shaped exhibit spaces were quite a chore to figure out where everything went. We were in W505; the Hoppers were in E505. Dean Hopper would show up at our booth, thinking he was heading to his. Very confusing!
The food at the concession stands in Nashville was, to say the least, a joke. Nachos, pizza (that tasted like cardboard colored with red crayon), pretzels, hot dogs and pop (for the Southern folks, ‘soda’). One night, I called Domino’s to see if they’d deliver to Municipal Auditorium. They said they would, so I met them at the back door. I could’ve probably sold that pizza for $50! The next night, several Domino’s pizzas were found throughout the exhibit hall!
I remember coming down the ramp from upstairs and George Younce asking how I was doing, especially in those heels going down the ramps!
Load-in was crazy, as only two vehicles could back down the ramp and you had 20 minutes to unload. Then, you had to find the non-existing parking space until you were ready to head back to your hotel to get ready for the evening. The headquarters hotel was seven blocks away! Since there was limited parking and the shuttle was so slow, we walked every night! Going wasn’t bad … downhill. Coming back was terrible. I ruined a pair of pantyhose every night because walking in heels on the brick sidewalk was killing my feet!
It then moved to Louisville in 1994 which had a flat exhibit area and plenty of parking! But I was 36 weeks pregnant at the end of NQC week. I carried my son all out front and I was stopped numerous times in the aisles with, “Honey, when are you due?” The next year that same child took off, out of our booth in 1995 , running between people’s legs. He’d been somewhat walking around at home, holding on to furniture. He decided to debut his walking at NQC 1995!
In 1997, I was again pregnant, but this time, I wasn’t alone! Karen Peck Gooch and Kelly Nelon were also pregnant. Kelly delivered Autumn in February; Karen delivered Kari Faith in, I think, early April; I delivered Andrea in mid-April.
I remember the 2008 Diamond Awards, where we received the “Sonrise Artist of the Year.” What an honor that was!
LOTS, LOTS, LOTS of memories of NQC! We met many new friends while exhibiting for 23 years! Thanks for allowing me to go back!
Submitted by Donna Brock Strong of Hearts Of Faith
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