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A Glimpse at Tradeshow History (November 2013)

1893: World’s Columbian Expo celebrates anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage

Glimpse at Tradeshow History_1893 Worlds Columbian Expo - Ferris Wheel_RFichterThe 1893 World’s Columbian Expo marked the 401-year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World. Between May and October 1893, over 27 million visitors from 46 nations participated in this exposition. There were many attractions that caught the attention of visitors, but only a few truly made history. The highlights of the World’s Columbian Expo were a 5-foot replica of the Liberty Bell made out of 6,500 oranges; the world’s first ferris wheel, standing 264 feet tall; a 43-foot high, 50-ton telescope that was the world’s largest at the time; and the world’s first moving sidewalk, which stretched the length of a 3,500-foot pier.

1901: President William McKinley assassinated at Pan-American Exposition

Held in Buffalo, N.Y., the 1901 Pan-American Exposition was a World’s Fair. Making this exposition one to remember for years to come, the 25th president of the United States, William McKinley, was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist. A newly-developed x-ray machine was on display at the exposition that year, but doctors refused to use it on McKinley because they were unsure of the side effects it would have on him. The president suffered for a few days following the shooting while he was attempting to heal from his wounds, but he inevitably died due to gangrene and infection from the bullet wounds.

1936: The Crystal Palace in London destroyed by fire

Constructed in 1851 for the Great Exhibition in London’s Hyde Park, the Crystal Palace was an immaculate glass and iron structure. The palace and its grounds staged the setting for the world’s first theme park, complete with a roller coaster. Attracting over 2 million visitors per year, there was no doubt that Crystal Palace was one of the world’s best sights. Almost as quickly as the palace was given life and joy, it was taken away in an instant. Falling into a financial crisis and a string of bad luck, the palace was damaged by winds in 1861 and by fires in 1866. Declaring bankruptcy in 1911, the devastation was not quite over. The night of Nov. 30, 1936, a fire broke out in the palace. Eighty-eight fire engines, 438 officers, men from four fire brigades and 749 police officers worked through the night to contain the fire, but the damage had already been done.

1967: First CES convention debuts in NYC

From the age of VCRs, laserdiscs and camcorders, to HDTV, Blu-Ray players and laptops, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has set the standard for worldwide electronics exhibitions. Originally set up as a spinoff from the Chicago Music Show, CES made its first debut in 1967 in New York City, with a turnout of more than 17,500 attendees and over 100 exhibitors. From 1978 to 1994, CES was held twice a year, with locations in Las Vegas and Chicago. In 1998, the show changed to only once a year with Las Vegas being the home location. Each year has brought extreme success for the electronics industry, although some years were better than others. In 2004 the Blu-Ray disc was introduced, while in 2005 Bill Gates’ Windows Media Center resulted in a “blue screen of death.” CES 2014 will return for another year on Jan. 7-10, 2014 in Las Vegas.

2010: Travel+Leisure rates Top 10 Strangest Conventions in 2009-2010

Convention-attendees know that tradeshows and exhibitions are extremely serious events when it comes to business and bringing in revenue, but Travel+Leisure magazine made it a point to compile a list of the top 10 strangest conventions (as if ComicCon didn’t already attract strange people).

  1. World Toilet Summit & Expo – Suntec, Singapore
  2. Celebrity Impersonators Convention – Las Vegas, Nev.
  3. The Office Convention – Scranton, Pa.
  4. International UFO Congress Convention & Film Festival – Laughlin, Nev.
  5. Scarefest – Lexington, Ky.
  6. Twins Day Festival – Twinsburg, Ohio
  7. Sunshine State Eggfest – Melbourne, Fla.
  8. International Cake Exploration Society (ICES) Convention – San Diego, Calif.
  9. TwiCon – Dallas, Texas
  10. LegoWorld – IJsselhallen Zwolle, Netherlands
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