“Enter Your Initials” – PinFest 2018 is Largest Yet
On Friday morning in a light drizzle, nearly a hundred avid gamers waited outside the Allentown Agri-Plex for the start of PinFest 2018 – the Lehigh Valley’s annual pinball show. The expo featured over 300 pinball, arcade, and slot machines, as well as parts, accessories, and memorabilia. The early crowd had their pick of which machines to play first, as thousands more patrons would stream through the doors during the two-day event. Each machine was set to “free play,” so players simply paid one $20 admission price and had access to games and the on-site flea market.
Upon entering the gaming area, visitors were met with a row of Iron Maiden and AC/DC pins from Stern. The machines featured different gaming modes based on the song chosen by each player, promising a unique experience for every round. Other musically-inspired machines included Aerosmith, Metallica, Dolly Parton, and Elvis. Across the aisle, another vendor had set up his booth to promote a new Houdini machine. The booth featured various circus posters and props alluding back to a time of magic and mystery, immersing players in a real-life scenario.
Many of the games referenced elements of pop culture, particularly movies and television shows. Popular pins included Indiana Jones, South Park, Star Trek, Rescue 911, and Batman. One patron, upon achieving a new high score on Demolition Man, declared she was so excited that she couldn’t wait to go home and watch the movie.
The majority of machines available for sale ranged from $500-$3000, with a few exceptions – such as a brand new Pirates of the Caribbean pin from Jersey Jack Pinball ($9500). POTC was one of several games to feature JJP’s proprietary Invisiglass, which helps cut down on glare and light reflection on the playing surface. In addition to complete machines, flea market vendors sold parts and accessories, as well as “project” pins that needed some TLC in order to be play-ready.
Friendship was also on display at the festival. Many attendees have logged multiple years at PinFest, as well as other shows across the United States (and beyond). Shouts of “Great to see you!” and “What did ya bring?” echoed throughout the Agri-Plex, as well as discussions regarding where out-of-towners were staying and after-party locations. There were several, including one that got a little too rowdy and had to be broken up by police. (Author’s note: the officers were smiling at the absurdity of ousting the “pinball group.”)
For those looking for more pin-tastic opportunities, the next PA pinball expo takes place in York from October 12-13. In addition, Penn Skate Arcade hosts monthly pinball tournaments in Allentown, and the next one occurs on May 22. Next year’s PinFest is scheduled for May 3-4, and it’s never too early to start practicing.