Gibtown 2021 show set to revive the industry

Supporting a vital industry gathering and the need to meet in person, when it comes to Gibtown IISF 2021, mid-level professionals are determined to keep alive the traditional and proven motto of the entertainment industry – the show must continue! The 2021 Super Trade Show and Extravaganza – will celebrate its 53rd anniversary February 16-19 at the world famous International Independent Showmen’s Association Club in Gibsonton, Florida.

The decision to commit to hosting an in-person convention – making the fair and carnival industry possibly one of the first industries to do so – was not an easy one. The decision procession required “a lot of thought and consideration” – according to the IIAS website – before the organization “decided to go ahead with our planned event”.

Safe event

The main factor in formulating the decision in favor of the meeting was the ability to ensure the health and safety of the participants. In accordance with CDC guidelines, as well as national and local guidelines, this year’s Gibtown trade show will showcase the predictable array of protocols and other mitigation measures that have become commonplace in our daily lives. These include: mandatory masks, temperature checks, hand washing and sanitizing stations, and social distancing protocols.

“Our main goal has always been to have a secure convention,” said Theresa Rimes, IIAS trade show secretary. “We will be distributing bottles of hand sanitizer free of charge to all participants. We will also use more outdoor spaces rather than being enclosed. “

Rimes also points out that the Showmen club facility has hosted a number of events since Florida eased its shelter restrictions in place this summer. The organization has a proven track record in organizing safe events, strictly adhering to mandatory guidelines. Gibtown organizers also reduced the exhibit booth fee to vendors by 50 percent across all levels, and lowered the attendance fee to $ 10 for non-members.

As the first industry event of the year, the International Independent Showmen’s Association (IISA) still holds a high profile position, a meeting where the previous year is evaluated and the upcoming season is essentially (if unofficially) ) launched. This year, the event takes on a very unique responsibility. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many major conventions in 2020, such as those of the International Association of Fairs and Exhibitions (IAFE) and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), as well that a multitude of small meetings, conferences and other essential events, have moved to an online format or have been canceled altogether.

Ironically, the IIWB trade show and convention is now putting the pandemic on the books, it was the last pre-quarantine event and the first in-person convention of the New Year, which hopefully is the first chapter of a post-pandemic year.

Need to meet

It’s impossible at this point to predict the show’s success, but it seems that in these uncertain times, it’s important for the industry to return to some semblance of normalcy. “People want to come out, it’s been a waiting game, and now that the vaccine is available, people are ready to meet,” she said. “We have to lead by example, as an industry we have to show that everything is going to be okay.”

Even in the absence of a pandemic, registration of attendees and even exhibitors at the show is delayed during the Christmas holidays, then bursting with energy, accelerating throughout January. This year looks even more eventful as the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and how it will shape the 2021 trade fair season continues to impact decision-making. The Gibtown Trade Show is held in conjunction with Florida Week, a vital series of meetings and other industry events hosted by NICA and OABA. This essential and multifaceted week of industry conferences and other events concludes with many Florida Week attendees visiting the Florida State Fair, which usually opens at the end of Florida Week.

RELATED STORY: Meeting the Challenges: OABA and NICA Finalize Florida Week 2021. Reopening Seminars, NAARSO Certification, and H-2B Meetings Highlight Educational Series

This year, however, the Florida State Fair was postponed from February to April. “We’re two separate things, so I don’t think the Florida State Fair rescheduling will affect us.”

Nonetheless, from attendance levels to lineup, this year’s Gibtown Show will see inevitable changes.

“Some people can’t attend, and we understand that,” Rimes said. “It will be a different show, we all accept that. But businesses know the importance of attending. Some exhibitors who cannot come at least send signage and other materials. Other companies have reduced their footprint, reserving fewer booths and reducing their booth space. But they still support us and know the importance of the show.

She added, “We all just want to get back to work, that’s what we hear from people. We all want to move forward with our businesses. That’s why people still come.

RELATED: JKJ Workforce to Host H-2B Seminar at Gibtown Trade Show

Start somewhere

The consensus seems to be that the industry’s comeback of the coronavirus should begin at Gibtown Show 2021. “We have to start somewhere,” said Jack Cook, president of Bob Space Racers. “At some point we have to get back to business and Gibtown is a great place to start. “

For this leading mid-game maker, the Gibtown Trade Show will be its first public appearance and product showcase since the Amusement Expo International 2020, which was held in New Orleans in March, just before the nation’s lockdown. . In addition to completing orders and introducing a new line of coin-operated group games, the company responded to the coronavirus outbreak by producing an emergency ventilation device and a range of disinfectant dispensers, although Cook added that the demand for both has declined as the market has become saturated with similar products.

“The world may change after this COVID pandemic, but we have a plan to change with it,” Cook said. “Gibtown is a great place where we can all know where we are going. In our business, we are always moving forward. It can rain every day at a fair, but we will always have matches at the halfway point and we will always go to the next one. ”

“We support the industry and the companies that make up the industry,” said Hutch Costello, Director of Sales, Rhode Island Novelty, Inc. “We’ve been attending the Gibtown show since the 1980s. We believe customers and friends will come. You always have a few dozen sectors of the carnival industry at this show. We all can’t wait to get back to work. “

He added: “We have adapted to the realities of declining attendance. We’ve narrowed it down to nine stalls, down from 19, but that will allow for more social distancing. The important thing is to be there and to meet in person.

Costello noted that with the cancellation of the IAAPA convention and trade show and other events caused a shortage of presentation opportunities. The pandemic has disrupted Plush’s supply chain, but many of those factories have reopened and the company is eager to showcase its 2021 line, which will have its premier in Gibtown.

What plush trends will carnival companies, game dealers and other middleman sellers be looking for this year?
“We’re showing our new 2021 plush line, good stuff,” Costello said. “Generics rather than licensed products are what is in demand. We have seen a decline in pre-COVID licensed plush toys and expect that to continue. We have our own design team and have gone the extra mile to create unique designs.

Some of the cute and cuddly products that are sure to entice intermediate gamers include: Belly Buddies with Baby – a spinoff from the company’s Belly Buddy series, now featuring Belly Buddy characters with their offspring – yes, each of those Belly Buddies comes with its own mini-me; Dozy animals, aliens and plump pals.

“We hope this spring will be a turning point,” said Costello. “We are all coming off the worst year in our history, but I hope that with the vaccines in place, we are in a better place. It is not over, but we have not given up. We’ve had a tough 2020, but people want to go out, they need family entertainment. “

Industry resilience

“We will be as big as everyone will allow it to be,” said Lee Stevens, president of IIAS and owner of Ju-Lee Concessions. “We are not closing. We understand that some people may be a little worried about COVID and not be able to come, but we still need to meet and move on. The show is always informative, and it’s always more about the exchange of ideas and we need it more and more. We have several seminars on how to do business under COVID regulations and how to provide a safe environment in 2021. ”

Due to the global disruption of all lines of business, usual pricing and other contract issues have been hit immensely. “It’s a very difficult time. But many exhibiting companies will come up with more lucrative rates and other financing deals, as they compete for new business. If you want to know the changes in the industry for 2021, this is the place to be.

He added, “The nature of our business is that we are resilient. We are used to doing it by our intelligence. We are facing this crisis and we are going through it, just as we have been through the dust bowl and the great depression. No matter how serious the situation, our industry is determined to get through this crisis. “


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