As January turns to February and Super Bowl weekend comes and goes, thousands of carnival industry professionals converge on Gibsonton, FL for the 44th annual IISF Trade Show and Extravaganza. The Trade Show, along with the opening of the Florida State Fair, the National Independent Concession Association meeting and annual OABA and SLA meetings make the week and its festivities one of the most important times in business.
Over 300 vendors are expected for the trade show, meetings will help to make plans for the coming year, educational seminars will focus on topics affecting the industry and there will be plenty of opportunity for food, drink and "cutting up jackpots".
This week holds something for everyone; the carnival industry has its trade show and club meetings, fair officials come to meet with concessionaires and attend the Florida State Fair, concessionaires have food and education meetings and hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers have the opportunity to write business or make contacts.
The hub of the activity is the IISA grounds where the trade show kicks off on Tuesday and runs through Saturday. The show is open each day from 10 am to 5pm and admission is free to IISA members, $25 to industry-related association members and $50 to the general public.
Over 300 manufacturers and suppliers are expected to be represented with many rolling out new products and offering show specials. Cavallaro Concessions is a vendor offering a new product, "Smart Lemonade". The company promotes their product as "naturally sugar-free". The product is sweetened with Stevia, a South American herb that is used as a natural sweetener. The company claims the lemonade can be part of a healthy foods movement among fairs, aiding the potential concessionaire with all-important bookings.
Other concessionaires include Forest River, a purveyor of mobile restrooms and Carol Slively's rideparts.com, striving to be the source for ride parts and replacements.
Many ride manufacturers large and small will be represented along with lighting companies, novelty items, food and plush sales.
The show week schedule kicks off with the annual Super Bowl party on Sunday, February 3rd. The Showmen's Shrine Club meets on February 4th and Big Hearted Jerry's Memorial Golf Tournament is also held that day. On February 6th, the Museum Fundraiser and Jamboree is held at the club. Feb. 7th is the President's Banquet and Ball. On February 9th, the Showmen's Shrine Club meets again and the annual Memorial Service and Mass is held on the club's grounds.
The bar is also open each night for the enjoyment of show attendees with live music and plenty of action each night.
Outside of the show, NICA will be holding their Expo on February 4th and 5th. The SLA's Long Range Planning meeting and NICA's Annual Meeting will also be held on February 6th. On Thursday, February 7th the OABA Board Meeting will be held. February 8th has the SLA Scholarship meeting, the SLA Board meeting, and the OABA's annual meeting at 6pm featuring the Hall of Fame induction for Wayne McCary, the Pioneer Award for Jack Eyerly and the 2013 Chairman's Reception for Mike Featherston. All events are held at the Embassy Suites.
The Florida State Fair will also be open for all to attend beginning February 7th nearby in Tampa.
The Trade Show will be holding several educational seminars throughout the week. With the exception of forklift certification, all seminars are free to attendees. All seminars are held in the Carousel Pavilion unless otherwise noted.
February 5th - "Daily Pre-Opening Inspection of Rides" presented by Tom Carey, sponsored by the Lundy Group. 10:30 - 11:30 am
The seminar covers things to consider when putting your daily inspection program together or upgrading your existing program.
February 6th - "Portable Generator Safety" presented by Tom Carey and sponsored by the Lundy Group. 11 am - 12 noon
The Seminar takes you from determining the size of portable power unit you need, considering the size of your show, through proper installation of your power units. Also causes you to give some thought to items that need to be considered during the pre-opening inspection of your power units.
Noon - 3pm - JKJ Workforce Agency.
This presentation by James Judkins of JKJ, John Meredith of the Meredith Advocacy Group and attorney Joe Nichols, will focus on the status of foreign labor in the industry.
Hour one will give an overview of the current situation with foreign labor touching on important issues and litigation.
Hour two will focus on whether or not your company is in compliance with current and possible future changes to the laws.
Hour three is an opportunity for questions and answers and small group workshops.
February 8th , 10 a - 1p Repeat of JKJ Workforce Presentation
1:30 - 3:30 pm, Forklift Training and Certification presented by PLH Consulting. The course will feature on-site training and results in the certification of the participant. The cost for materials and certification is $40 and the course is limited to the first 25 participants.
Mark Popovich, 2012- 2013 club president, has been hard at work preparing the club and its members for the annual gathering. The club has hosted annual parties and events at the end of the season but the trade show is its chance to really shine. Popovich recently commended the membership for their hard work on improvements such as the new carpeting and tile that was installed, the painting of the meeting room and the relocation and improvement of the ballfield.
Popovich will be leaving office soon after the trade show ends on February 12th when new officers are installed. The club then holds an appreciation party for volunteers and a "Meet Your New President" reception.
With a full schedule of events for every facet of the industry, "Trade Show Week" in the Tampa area, February 4 - 9 is a time not to be missed for members of the Outdoor Amusement Business Industry.