IISF Super Trade Show & Extravaganza: the show must go on
AT: B. Derek Shaw
GIBSONTON, Florida —The 53rd annual International Independent Showmen’s Foundation (IISF) Super Trade Show & Extravaganza takes place February 16-19. This four-day buying bonanza for rides, games, trailers, plush, insurance and ancillary products and services will feature a diminished trade show and attendees as the coronavirus pandemic rages on. European ride manufacturers are forbidden to fly into the United States at this time.
“Florida Week,” as participants refer to the various scheduled events and activities, will feature a scaled down itinerary. Due to Super Bowl LV occurring in nearby Tampa during the usual timeframe, the trade show, produced by the IISF, the fundraising arm of the International Independent Showmen’s Association (IISA), was moved back a week. The Florida State Fair, always a popular option for attendees, has moved to dates not yet determined in April due to COVID-19 considerations.
Organizers decided to stay the course with the dates that were set. The IISA website said, “After much thought and consideration, the supervisors of the IISF Super Trade Show and Extravaganza have decided to move forward with our scheduled event.” Moving later, to perhaps coincide with the 2021 Florida State Fair dates, was not an option as the facility closes each year the third week of March since many carnival operators will likely be on the road.
When asked about vendor participation, Teresa Rimes, trade show secretary for the IISA, said, “[It’s] somewhat down but understandable.” The association has reduced vendor booth rental fees by 50% this year. “Please understand that things will be different this year in regard to locations. Our plan is to utilize the middle rows for inside vendors and work our way out in regard to placement as not to utilize the entire building. Social distancing will be put into place. Outside booth placement will be at the exit of the trade show building,” as explained on the website.
The association is beefing up safety measures. “[It is] our responsibility to protect ourselves and our members,” said Rimes. From the IISA website: The following mitigations will be in place for the 2021 Trade Show:
Temperature checks — Anyone having a temperature of 100.4 or higher will be required to have secondary screening. If occurrence continues, that person will be asked to leave and [seek] medical attention.
Hand washing & sanitizing — Hand washing and sanitizing stations will be located throughout the facility.
Face masks — Face masks must be worn and will be strictly enforced.
Social distancing — We encourage social distancing with additional signage and floor and ground markings.
Bathroom cleaning — Potillo Sanitation Service will be on site fully disinfecting with Electra Static Ionization for Microbial Bacteria, following CDC guidelines and protocol. Bathroom urinals will be disinfected daily.
“We are totally positive. Better to move forward than not at all,” said Rimes.
There are four new vendors, in a total field of 60, that are participating in the trade show. They include: Elite Trade Show Services/Marquee; Encore Concessions – Fab Metals; Mid-America Engine and Urethane Specialties.
The week of activities for the IISA begins Sunday, February 14, with “Celebrating Gibtown 2021,” featuring a live band and hors d’ oeuvres. Monday is the 11th annual Big Hearted Jerry Memorial golf tournament. The next four days, the trade show is open from 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.. The first evening, February 16, is a trade show kickoff party with snacks, finger foods and a band. Wednesday evening is the annual Jamboree fundraiser steak dinner and auction benefiting the museum building fund. On Thursday during the trade show will be another live band. Rounding out the activities on Friday will be the Shriner’s annual meeting and the Cemetery Association Memorial service at the carousel pavilion with mass to follow.
For the second year, NAARSO will again be offering inspector certification exams for level one inspectors. This will take place on Tuesday with a two-hour study and review followed by a two-hour exam.
Workshops, always an integral part of the event, continue this year. Some are free, while others require a registration fee. For food handlers, a four-hour certification in the ServSafe program will be offered, Tuesday – Friday.
On Wednesday, “Reopening during a Pandemic” will feature two different sessions: “Creative Ways to Produce Revenue During a Pandemic,” and “Events That Operated During the 2020 Pandemic.” Later that same day, “Dealing with State and Local Health Departments During a Pandemic,” and “Overcoming the ‘No You Can’t Open.’”
Thursday the JKJ Workforce Agency and the Small Business Workforce Alliance will be conducting two sessions on the “H2B Balancing Act: Practical, Political Strategies for Survival in this New Abnormal.”
Rounding out the week on Friday is a session on “Industrial Truck/Forklift Training.” It ends with on-site outdoor training.
Here’s a brief rundown on activities conducted that week by other organizations:
Kicking off the week, is the always popular NICA (National Independent Concessionaires Association)/Fare Foods food show and other events. Audrey Poole, vice president of busines development for Fare Foods, explained what will take place at the Sheraton Tampa Brandon Hotel: “This year’s theme is Movin’ Forward. The event will begin on Tuesday, February 16, with NICA’s Business Expo. NICA will debut its website-based Peer to Peer Resource Center which we are all excited about. NICA will also be hosting several workshops that attendees will find very informative.
“Then it’s on to the Fare Foods Food Show. This year’s food show will be held one day only from 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. on February 16, with 55 participating vendors. On Wednesday, February 17 at 5:30 p.m., the NICA annual general membership meeting will be held in person as well as virtual, so all members across the country can participate. The virtual meeting will mark a milestone in NICA’s history. NICA’s incoming board of directors will be installed, introduction of the hall of fame winner, Greg Miller CCE, as well as other exciting surprises,” said Poole.
This year’s food show will have three, two-hour time blocks for attendees. The change was implemented to follow social distancing guidelines and to avoid large gatherings. All attendees will be required to wear a mask to enter and participate in the events. Exhibitors will be located throughout the hotel allowing an enhanced traffic flow avoiding larger crowds, all designed to promote safety for attendees.
“Our industry is about networking. What a great opportunity to see so many of the faces you haven’t be able to see in months. Travel safe and see you in sunny Tampa,” said Poole.
The Outdoor Amusement Business Association, (OABA) has a full schedule as President and CEO Greg Chiecko explained, “Our board of directors have not met in person since last February. The general consensus is they want an in-person meeting and have many important issues to discuss. It was a very difficult year in 2020 for our industry and we want to make sure that our members have all the tools they need to have a safe and profitable year in 2021. We have a very dedicated board of directors that look out for our entire industry.”
Chiecko continued, “We intend to update our strategic plan, discuss our membership, contribution fund and Jamboree Committees. We will also honor our hall of fame and pioneer award recipients at our 56th annual member meeting and chair reception. Also, educational programs will be held at the club in Gibtown.”
The Showmen's League of America (SLA) is planning on having its usual meetings. “During that week, we have our long-range planning meeting, scholarship meeting, nomination meeting and a board meeting,” said Cindy Henning, secretary/executive director. “However, the Executive Committee just decided [on January 25], we will not hold meetings in Tampa this year. They felt it was better to be on the safe side and have Zoom meetings instead.”