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A Glimpse at Tradeshow History (January 2014)

1876: Centennial Exposition debuts the telephone and ketchup among others 

Statue of Liberty arm and torch (1876)
Statue of Liberty arm and torch (1876)

The Centennial Exposition, held from May 10 through Nov. 10, 1876, not only marked the 100-year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, but it also introduced the birth of many new inventions. Opened in Philadelphia by U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, the expo showcased 30,000 exhibits, spanning more than 250 acres at Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park. Among the hundreds of items showcased at the event, four stood out as staples of American history. The Centennial Exposition debuted the inventions of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, H.J. Heinz’s tomato ketchup, George H. Corliss’ 1400-horsepower steam engine, and last but not least, the right arm and torch of the Statue of Liberty (the rest of the statue was not completed until 1886).

1972: New York hosts world’s first Star Trek Convention
Setting the bar for a galactic phenomenon, New York City hosted the first-ever Star Trek convention from Jan. 21-23, 1972. Held at the Hotel Pennsylvania, formerly known as the Statler Hilton Hotel, the convention was organized by a group of dedicated and ambitious fans calling themselves “The Committee.” The first convention was expected to only have 500 attendees, but as soon as word spread through the community, approximately 3,000 had shown up. Highlights of the event included an episode reel screened from 16mm prints, an art show, a costume contest and a guest appearance by Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator.

1997: Anthrocon attracts thousands of…“furries”? 
In 1997, a group of animal lovers created a convention known as Anthrocon, which would help fund local animal shelters and charities. Originally held in New York, Anthrocon attracted around 300 artists, writers, costume designers and puppeteers in its first year. Only a few years away from its 20th anniversary, the convention has grown from 300 to almost 6,000 attendees annually, and where it once raised over $2,000 in donations, it now brings in a little over $31,000 for animal shelters and charities. The convention found its home in 2006 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Anthrocon 2013 group photo
Anthrocon group photo (1997)

2011: Fire destroys booths at New York International Gift Fair 
The semi-annual New York International Gift Fair, organized by George Little Management (GLM), didn’t go as expected for the January 2011 event. Twelve hours before the Javits Center opened its doors on Jan. 30, an electrical fire broke out destroying several booths and their product samples. Freeman, the show’s general service contractor, worked to replace the carpet, put up new walls and install new lighting. Exhibitors worked through the night to reconstruct their booths and repair any other damages. All but one booth were ready to go when doors reopened the next morning.

Lamborghini Gallardo on fire (2012)
Lamborghini Gallardo on fire (2012)

2012: Lamborghini Gallardo catches fire at Portland Auto Show 
With eye-catching displays of the newest exotic sports car models, automotive shows carry a worldwide reputation. The 2012 Portland Auto Show, held Jan. 25, caught viewers’ attention for a different reason: a Lamborghini Gallardo caught fire. The industry-wide rule is that cars on the show floor are not allowed to contain more than a quarter-tank of fuel. Thinking they were exempt from that rule, the owners of the Gallardo tried to enter with an overfilled tank. After being rejected, the driver “redlined” the car in neutral. A few minutes passed and the driver put a piece of wood between the seat and the gas pedal, proceeding to walk away. Due to driver error, the Lamborghini Gallardo inevitably overheated and caught fire.




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