The days of the Jubilee being a modest regional show that does pretty well for itself are over. This is the big leagues now; the bar has been raised, and the pressure is on. And Jubilee is stepping up to meet the challenge quite nicely.

Not that it’s been completely without a modicum of hand-wringing trepidation. Ours is not an industry that is overly welcoming to change. Even the most mundane modification to routine will raise eyebrows so high they end up on the back of people’s necks. Sweeping changes? Embraced like Superman embraces kryptonite.

So it was with no shortage of foresight – and moxie – that Jubilee decided to take the lead and bring the industry up to speed and to the front of the curve. It was baby steps at first – just tweaking the show’s schedule some a couple years ago required debate. And then the perfect storm gathered. Last year’s theme was “Profitability In Diversity,” and this year’s theme was “Integrated Water Systems, the Wave of the Future” – pretty bold moves considering how tough a sell change can be. But it was the right thing to do to move things forward. And when the economy tanked, it was clear – even to the most ardent of status quo huggers – that change was, indeed, necessary. True vindication. No sighs of relief that Jubilee didn’t make a mistake; head-up, shoulders-back confidence that Jubilee is on top of it and that we’re all better off for it. Faith went from tepid to nervously accepted, and now should be, if not blind, then certainly at a trust-level befitting the track record of success.

Consider these seminar themes that were among the 50 hours of educational programming offered to attendees:
  • Advanced methods for environmental, geotechnical and exploration drilling.
  • Geothermal loop installations.
  • Sonic drilling.
  • A national perspective on the water industry.
  • Soil as a treatment medium.
  • Risk management and safety programs.
  • Water chemistry and technology applications.
  • Business management, public relations and best practices.
These are not topics designed to placate a group that simply wants to daydream its way through a few CEU credits. The depth and breath of the educational sessions was impressive, as was the roster of presenters – top-notch across the board.

This is not to say that the Jubilee needs to become some dour, professorial slog that sucks all the fun and revelry out of the experience. It is the Jubilee after all – it’s a celebration. And there’s plenty to celebrate. But times certainly do change, and the show is evolving in ways that reflect that – in a very positive way. It’s still a great occasion to share with friends, family and acquaintances, while also keeping up with the times and honoring tradition.

Two very prestigious awards were presented at the annual Worth Pickard Family Picnic. The George McCall Award honors a person whose contributions to the industry go above and beyond the normal duties of a Jubilee member. In that spirit, it’s fitting that this year’s winner Larry Wooster (Wooster Drilling Co., Waldorf, Md.) was unable to accept the award in person; he was in Africa, drilling much-needed wells. Dave Kelly (Jones Well Drilling Inc., Jarrettsville, Md.) did so on his behalf. The Vendor Appreciation Award recognizes service and support for Jubilee, and it’s with great humility that your friends at National Driller accepted the award on behalf of the entire industry, an industry that we hold in the highest esteem.

Special thanks to the other sponsors of this year’s Jubilee: AMTROL Inc., Atlas Copco, BERKELEY, Central Mine Equipment Co., Franklin Electric, Mincon Rockdrills and PermaTank.

It’s always fun to hear Jubilee participants share their “Remember that time at Jubilee when …” stories – whether the year of the anecdote was 1959, 1979 or 1999. What do you think Jubilee will be like in 2019? What stories will we hear from 2009?

Looking ahead to 2010, the Jubilee hits the beach July 31 to Aug.1, and we look forward to again seeing the bigger and better things that keep raising the show’s profile.