Have you ever attended an industry specific convention and trade show? I’m thinking specifically of the kind that are held over multiple days in large convention centers in major North American cities. Some of these ubiquitous modern business events are well known and covered in national media like the CES – Consumer Electronics Show that happens this week. That trade show floor will hum at every open hour with excitement as journalists vie for stories of the hottest new device alongside industry insiders and up-n-comers who need to attend and see everything to maintain or build those all-important connections. Well, the convention and tradeshow that BullockSmith has been a party to and participant in for the past 30 years is not that type of show – exactly. Our annual trek to the big show can include trained pigs, a new thrill ride, or the latest fried delicacy!

Just after Thanksgiving each year our team flies off to Las Vegas for the annual International Association of Fairs and Expositions convention and trade show. Held for the past number of years at the Paris Hotel and Casino, this is the penultimate gathering of movers and doers in the Fairgrounds industry. This year, after a flurry of activity on the first two days of the big show, day three dawned quiet and slow. The trade show floor was quiet and the conversations overheard were between the stilt walker and the animal trainer show people on the far side of the aisle. But don’t think we were concerned – on the contrary, this was the perfect day to really get deep into conversations about what worked for fairs this year, what didn’t and how we might help them Fair Better next time. We architects have always found this event to be a rather odd one for us. We, with our more conservative attire, shaken into a salty mix of carnival acts, ride vendors, fair food purveyors and performing talent agents. But we are there for an essential reason, we are the design professionals that know how to seamlessly blend the facility and accessibility needs of the rodeo and the midway with a 3-day Eventing Horse Show and year-round 4-H activities. We love the challenge of planning for a successful year-round fairground and we have many tricks and best-practices we’d love to share. Don’t wait until next year’s IAFE in Las Vegas to catch up with us, as fun as that show is, we are ready to help you right now!

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