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A Glimpse at Tradeshow History (February)

Events and interesting facts that have shaped the industry.

1854 – First-ever agricultural fair is held in Texas
In 1854, history was made when one of the first-ever Texas Agricultural Fairs was held in San Antonio. These expositions continued year after year, but most of them encountered inadequate facilities to truly accommodate their needs.

This need for greater accommodations was answered in the early 1940s by Joe Freeman, the man who broke ground on the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum. Freeman’s dream was to build a coliseum to be used for a number of events, but specifically, a livestock exposition for the youth of Texas. Years of gathering support and money finally paid off when construction began in January of 1948.

In September of 1948, the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum was opened to the public. On February 17, 1950, the first Annual San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo took place at the coliseum. The first exposition was a huge success, with more than a quarter of a million visitors.

1913 – Art invades the 69th Regiment Armory in New YorkDuchamp's Nude Descending the Staircase
Often thought of as one of the most influential events in the history of American art, the 1913 Armory Show has a nearly 100-year legacy. After successful art exhibitions in France, Germany and England, a collection of approximately 1,250 paintings, sculptures, and decorative works by over 300 European and American artists came to the U.S. The event was held at New York’s 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue between 25th and 26th streets from February 17 – March 15.

Two events that occurred at this exhibition appear noteworthy to art historians. First, the purchase of Cézanne’s Hill of the Poor by the Metropolitan Museum of Art signaled an integration of modernism into official U.S. art channels. Second, the shock and outrage from Duchamp’s Nude Descending the Staircase conveyed that the Armory Show, officially known as The International Exhibition of Modern Art, was an unconventional entity whose duty it was to question the boundaries of art as an institution.

1939 – San Francisco expo has mixed results
When the gates opened on February 18, 1939, the Golden Gate International Exposition had a hard act to follow as the country was coming out of the most severe economic depression in its history.

Given these distractions, the fair created a distinctive environment, with its theme, the “Pageant of the Pacific.” This allowed the exposition to look for attendees and represent cultures beyond the continental United States. Broadening the expo to the Pacific Rim also helped these local cultures focus on the exhibition.

The expo also gathered the interest of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who officially announced the expo.

Golden Gate Exhibition

Aerial view of the Golden Gate International Exposition.
Photo: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library

“As the boundaries of human intercourse are widened by giant strides of trade and travel, it is of vital import that the bonds of human understanding be maintained, enlarged and strengthened rapidly,” said President Roosevelt. “Unity of the Pacific nations is America’s concern and responsibility; their onward progress deserves now a recognition that will be a stimulus as well.”

In the end, being sandwiched in between the depression and WWII proved to be too much for the Golden Gate International Exposition. It was a financial disaster, losing $4,166,000 in 1939. In order to recoup much-needed funds, the fair continued operations into 1940.

1997 – GES opens state-of-the-art facility
One of the leading general contractors in the tradeshow industry opened its new Orlando facility in anticipation of the growth that was expected to take place in Central Florida after the expansion of the Orange County Convention Center.

“We needed more space,” said Hugh Sinnock, director of facilities at GES. “The new building enabled us to consolidate our Orlando operations and position ourselves for growth.”

The new facility featured a five-acre marshalling yard, 42 shipping docks and 60,000 square feet of administrative space.

Assembly Technology Expo (2004)

Assembly Technology Expo (2004)

2004 – Manufacturing shows co-locate at Rosemont
In February of 2004, two of the world’s leading manufacturing tradeshows announced a blockbuster co-location plan for 2005. The International Robots and Vision Show and the Assembly Technology Expo would take place side-by-side for the first time at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.

At the time of the announcement, the two shows brought together more than 850 suppliers of automation technology. More than 15,000 manufacturing and engineering professionals were expected to attend the co-located shows.

“The initial reactions from past exhibitors and attendees have been outstanding,” said Donald Vincent, executive vice president of the Robotic Industries Association. “Based on the enthusiasm we are hearing, we think this will become a must attend venue for global manufacturing leaders in 2005.”

2009 – CEIR releases cost to exhibit research
The Center for Exhibition Industry Research released a report titled The Cost Effectiveness of Exhibition Participation: Part I, with results from a survey conducted among tradeshow sales and marketing managers.

The report compares the cost of making initial face-to-face contact with a customer through an exhibition versus without an exhibition lead. It also compares the cost to identify a potential customer, as well as outlining the perceived value of exhibitions.

This study was conducted by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Travel & Tourism Industry Center at the University of South Carolina.

The study’s objective was to measure the cost effectiveness of exhibition participation as it relates to the value of leads secured by qualified organizations.

2010 – Derse expands with New Jersey office

Brett Hyams

Brett Hyams

Derse, a face-to-face experiential marketing agency, announced on Feb. 4 the expansion of services to a New Jersey sales office led by Brett Hyams as director of sales and Lauren Cushing as an account executive.

“Having a physical presence in the New Jersey area provides us with a tremendous opportunity to be present in local markets and collaborate closely with existing customers and future business partners,” said Adam Beckett, president of Derse. “Building strong customer relationships is a top priority for us. With their in-depth knowledge of the industry and extensive sales and marketing experience, Brett and Lauren will play a key role in further expanding our reach on the East Coast.”


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