IAFE planners excited about 2022 Annual Convention, Trade Show
AT: Pam Sherborne
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Planners of the 2022 International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) Convention and Trade Show have been excited watching the numbers for the upcoming event.
In early November, registration numbers for the event, set for Sunday-Wednesday, Nov. 27-30, at the Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis, were meeting and exceeding the goals for which the association had hoped.
"As of our final pre-registration deadline of November 4, we have met our budget goals for registration and that is exciting," said Marla Calico, IAFE president and CEO. "We've already exceeded our goal of sales on day passes, which fits exactly with our marketing strategy of reaching out to the hundreds of county fairs within easy driving distance of Indianapolis, the Crossroads of America."
Calico said the IAFE plans to continue its outreach to those county fairs, mostly run by volunteers. Changing the locations of the annual convention and creating a fully packed program on the first day, it will hopefully help those who can easily drive, to do so even if it is just that one day.
This year, the first day of the convention is packed with workshops, networking opportunities and Institute of Fair Management (IFM) courses. There is a reception in the afternoon and, afterward, the Raisin’ for a Reason Wagons & WhiskeyVIP Event & Foundation Fundraiser is set to be held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Following that event, while attendees are still on the grounds, is the Fair-A-Palooza Tailgate, expected to be a highlight.
"The Fair-A-Palooza at the Indiana State Fair is set to be one of the coolest things ever done at the IAFE Annual Convention with rides, games, food and drink, entertainment and even ice skating and special driving tours of the holiday light event going on at the fairgrounds," Calico said.
More educational sessions and other activities kick off Monday, Nov. 28, early. Scheduled for this day are the IAFE committee chairs meeting, zone meetings and evening receptions.
The trade show is open Monday from 1:30-5:30 p.m. Calico said there were 350 booth spaces sold this year.
Tuesday, Nov. 29, opens with yoga and Pilates offered in the early morning, followed by the Buyers' Breakfast and workshops. The NICA Advisory Board meets on this day.
In the afternoon on Tuesday, the General Session will run 1:15-3 p.m. Jason Brown will deliver the keynote address. Brown is a resident of Henderson, North Carolina. He played football at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill while studying interpersonal communications. He went into the National Football League in 2005 and played with the Baltimore Ravens and, later, the St. Louis Rams. He retired from the NFL in 2012.
Also, during the General Session, the IAFE will present its awards. They include Hall of Fame, Heritage, Rising Star and State and Provinces awards.
The trade show opens following the General Session. It will run 3-5:30 p.m.
A full day of programming is also set for Wednesday, Nov. 30, the final day of this year's convention. It will wrap up with the Closing General Session and Celebration in the afternoon.
Comedian C. Willi Myles will entertain attendees. There will be an IFM graduation ceremony and the presentation of the past president plaque.
A celebration will follow.
Overall, the IAFE has a packed schedule, but Calico assures all attendees that there are plenty of networking opportunities.
"We've left plenty of time for networking and expanded our Networking Circles to every day," she said.
The Networking Circles are dedicated times for networking in separate rooms assigned by job responsibility type.
The Ed Shed is another area sure to provide networking as well. The Ed Shed is an area where IAFE committees have booths with displays. There are pop-up contests in the Ed Shed, marketing events and other activities.
Starting on Monday, the IAFE will offer its Educational Experiences programming. One is offered Monday morning, two on Tuesday and two on Wednesday. These experiences are:
•Delivering an Outstanding Guest Experience, to take place at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse, home of the National Basketball League Indiana Pacers.
•What Do You Do the Rest of the Year? A behind-the-scenes look at what fair officials do when the fair is not taking place. This will be held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds and Event Center.
•Delivering Impactful Ag Education Programs — a Hands-on Experience. This also is at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
•Exhibits from Idea to Opening Day at Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
•Massive Event Production at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Education sessions offered during the 2022 convention include a plethora of topics. Calico feels this programming is one of the best.
A sampling of session titles includes Facility Marketing and Sales – It’s a Year-Round Experience; Opening Big…. Finishing Strong!; Ticketing “Rights” and Wrongs; How Ticketing Technology Can Benefit Other Departments; Impactful Marketing Tools; Growing Revenue Online; How to Sell More Tickets Online and Improving the Fair/Vendor Relationship.
Others are Uniting the Community Through Food and Culture; Expansion and Opportunity in Youth Livestock Programs; Hosting a Cannabis Festival; How Do You Build Your VIP Entertainment Experience; Developing and Nurturing Relationships with Community Leaders and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Why It Matters to You, Your Organization, and Your Community.
Others are The 101 of Contracts and Other Legal Questions; Countdown to Transition – Succession Planning for Fairs; Culture in the Workplace; How to Communicate Safety Enhancements to the Public; Key Factors for Crowd Management; Finding the Next Generation of Superintendents/Volunteers for Your Exhibits Departments; Volunteers: How to Recruit and Perks Given; Establishing a 501(c)3 Charitable Foundation at Your Fair and the Status of the Mobile Amusement Industry
The Consumer Protection Program on E. coli workshop has been scheduled for Thursday morning, Dec. 1.
Calico said the 2022 fair season has been a good one.
"Anecdotally, the season has been fabulous where the weather cooperated, always the nemesis," she said. "Attendance and per-cap spending were very strong and very often in record territory."
Concerns and challenges Calico said IAFE members have been expressing include, among other issues, safety and security.
"...Especially with the increase in gun violence and teenage troublemakers out to find TikTok success," she said.
"Other concerns are the impact of inflation on costs of goods and services needed to produce the fair and finding and keeping fair-time staff due to competitiveness of the job marketplace and rising wage costs," she said.
The IAFE convention planners look at these concerns and make an effort to address them in the educational sessions. They will begin preparing for the 2023 event as soon as the 2022 edition is over and in the history books.
The 2023 IAFE Convention is set for November 26-29, Salt Lake City, Utah.