So it has been about a month and a half since I started this thread and I have learned a fair bit since then.
This wknd my wife and I volunteered at the Keystone Classic in Harrisburg and had a great time. Watching how hard the teams work and considering most of them are competing (and not just there to socialize) I get it now. As Smokin Gnome said it is like walking in to someone's living room. Or in other words - it's about comfort and trust.
My wife and I were fortunate enough to be invited to hang with Smokin Gnome for a bit on Friday. I learned a bit and, more importantly, got to meet some great folks. Hopefully we didn't over stay our welcome as I know they were getting down to some serious prep after we left.
As we were wandering around my wife and I talked and she said "You know - they put a lot of effort into getting ready for this and have their own ways of doing things. How would anyone know if you weren't just looking to shoulder surf and steal secrets." And you know - she is right. (I'm a lucky guy she puts up with me.
My thanks to Sal of Smokin Gnome and Erik and Ken of White Dog for taking time to talk to this noob. My wife, Kathy, and I really enjoyed it.