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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Equip Exposition proves trade shows can still set attendance records

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An expanded outdoor demo area is a big hit with attendees. Equip Exposition photo

Turns out it does not take a rotation through three warm-weather locations to stage a successful turf-centered trade show. Even in a post-pandemic, inflationary world in which labor and disposable income both are in short supply, an education conference and trade show still can thrive in a city where in October it can be 80 one day and snowing the next.

This year's Equip Exposition, the show formerly known as GIE+Expo, set a new event record Oct. 18-21, with 25,000 attendees and 1,000 exhibitors, participating. The show is produced by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and held annually in Louisville, Kentucky. Attendees to the show for the landscape industry came from all 50 states and 49 countries. The state boasts of being within a day's drive of 70 percent of the U.S. population, which is a plus considering the cost and headache currently associated with post-pandemic air travel.

Along with Hardscape North America, which co-locates with the Equip Expo, the show took up 675,000 square feet inside the Kentucky Exposition Center. A larger Outdoor Demo Yard brought the size of the space from 22 to 30 acres. All available booth space was sold out in September.

Even a fire in a prototype mower could not keep people away.

The show has been held annually in Louisville since 2007, and this year's event marks the first-ever sellout. Other shows have not be able to claim record attendance in more than a decade - 2008 in Orlando, to be exact. In fact, attendance was off by about half at this year's GCSAA Conference and Show in San Diego, where Covid protocols were still in place, even if they were not enforced, raising the question of whether the turf industry still had a desire for a national conference and show.

The answer to that question is clear, at least as far as the Equip Exposition is concerned.

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