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A glimpse of Tradeshow History (December)

Events and interesting facts that have shaped the industry

Cotton Expo1881-1895: The cotton expos
In the years following the Civil War, 1861-65, Atlanta’s leaders hosted a series of three cotton expositions to attract visitors to the area; the 1881 International Cotton Exposition, the 1887 Piedmont Exposition and the 1895 Cotton States and International Exposition.


The most ambitious of the city’s cotton expositions was the 1895 version. Its goals were to foster trade between southern states and South American nations, as well as to show the products and facilities of the region to the rest of the nation and to Europe.
Fewer than 800,000 attended the three-month exposition, which was plagued by constant financial problems. Most of the 1895 exposition’s buildings were torn down so that the materials could be sold for scrap, the city eventually purchased the grounds, which became the present-day Piedmont Park.

1915: The ukulele craze
The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition closed its doors December 4 after more than 18 million people passed through the entrance gates during the duration of the expo.

sf-expoSan Francisco staged the 1915 expo to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal in August, 1914.

The fair featured a reproduction of the Panama Canal that covered five acres. Visitors rode around the model on a moving platform, listening to information over a telephone receiver.

The first trans-continental telephone call was made by Alexander Graham Bell to the fairgrounds before the fair opened and a cross-country call was made every day the fair was open.

The ukulele also made its American debut at the fair, helping to create the ukulele craze off the 1920s.

An actual Ford assembly line was also set up in the Palace of Transportation and turned out one car every 10 minutes for three hours every afternoon, except Sunday. Four thousand four hundred cars were produced during the Exposition.

1935: People go to van Gogh
Since the opening of the Vincent van Gogh Exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York on November 5, 1935, more than 100,000 persons visited the exhibition before December 28.

At the time, a number of theories have been advanced to account for the tremendous popularity of the modern Dutch artist. In the opinion of Alfred H. Barr, Jr., director of the museum, van Gogh’s popularity is just what the artist himself would most passionately have desired.

“Again and again,” said Mr. Barr, “van Gogh wrote of his desire to make pictures for laborers, peasants, miners, weavers, fishermen postmen, seamen and shopkeepers; in short, for the great aesthetically naive public.”

1997: $1.1 billion exhibition facility
A mixed-use development including the largest trade and consumer show exhibition facility in North America was announced by Osceola Land Development, L.P. and World Expo Center.

The companies proposed to build and operate an Osceola County Convention Center as part of the exhibition complex that will include up to 3 million square feet of exhibition space, 3 hotels and 2 25,000 seat amphitheatre.

“World Expo Center will be larger than the Pentagon and will give Central Florida the ability to attract exhibitions and shows from around the world that previously could not come to Central Florida or this country,” said Ken McAvoy, executive vice president and general manager of World Expo Center.”

The convention center was scheduled to open in 2000.

COMDEX2001: COMDEX number down, but not out
The high-tech slump, downturns in the economy and the events of September 11, 2001 combined to shrink the attendee numbers at the world’s largest computer show. At approximately 150,000 attendees, that year’s COMDEX was the smallest since the early 1990s.

“Almost every company reduced the number of people they sent,” said Fred Rosen, Key3Media chief executive. “The 25 percent reduction in attendance from COMDEX 2000 doesn’t simply reflect a reluctance among attendees to travel. High-tech companies have slashed marketing dollars, making business travel to tradeshows a luxury instead of a necessity as in years past.”

2004: The worst is over?
With 295 participants registered, EDPA set new attendance records for its 49th annual convention and supplier showcase, held Dec. 4-7, in Las Vegas, Nev. A potpourri of networking, education and entertainment resulted in a lively, decidedly upbeat show. A collective sigh of relief was almost audible as most attendees agreed that the worst times are behind them and the industry.

There was an emphasis on the basics of business building or rebuilding a healthy business. Ray Montague of Avalon Exhibits and Dan Cantor of Hamilton Exhibits presented “Five ways to improve cash flow,” while earlier in the morning, Dr. Tony Allesandro gave attendees some insights and tactics to improve sales.

2008: Exhibit Designer of the Year
thumb_gino_pellegriniGino Pellegrini has been selected as Exhibit Designer of the year by the Exhibit Designers and Producers Association (EDPA). He was selected based on his innovative designs and his contribution to enhancing the professional standards of exhibit designers at EDPA’s annual conference and supplier showcase in December in Miami, Fla.

Pellegrini’s path to creating stellar exhibits is an interesting story. His design career began in Chile, but not in exhibit design. He was designing furniture for his family business when he was persuaded by a family friend to design an exhibit. The experience ignited his career in the industry. He began his exhibit design company in 1994 in Santiago, Chile and moved Inter-Global Exhibitions’ headquarters to Denver, Colo. in 1996.

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