Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for August, 2021

Tom Beard is Retiring. Say It Isn’t So!

August 25th, 2021 2 COMMENTS

Tom’s Farewell Letter

As many of you have heard, I’m retiring and calling it a career. It’s been a fantastic 27-year run working in the trade show and events industry for some great companies including Eco-Systems Sustainable and Classic Exhibits. I’m leaving with many great memories and with more friendships than I can count. Our industry has some of the hardest working, creative, and caring people I’ve encountered in my 45-year working career, and I feel blessed to have stumbled into this crazy industry! The past 18 months have been difficult for all of us, but it has brought to light the true collaboration and culture of Classic and Classic Distributor Partners. It was pretty amazing to witness!

Having traveled extensively over the years, I’ve seen the United States through the lens of airports, hotels, convention centers, and businesses, and it’s time to hit the road and see what the country looks like outside of these areas. You never know… I might stop by and regale you with stories about a giant ball of twine or other amazing sights in the US.

Your friendship and support over the years made my decision to retire very difficult, but I will stay involved with the Midwest EDPA Chapter and hopefully attend future EXHIBITORLIVE shows so I look forward to connecting down the road. I’ll say good-bye for now and leave you in the capable hands of Jen, Harold, and Mel.

Feel free to contact me at

— Tom Beard

Watermelon Seed Spittin’ Contest 2021

August 24th, 2021 COMMENTS
Watermelon Seed Spittin”

Spit Happens!

On a New York City subway, a spitter (“one who expectorates”) can be fined $100 and sentenced to up to one year in jail. In California the fine for spitting is $2000.

But in Portland, Oregon, one is not fined for spitting. In the PDX, one is celebrated.

On July 23, Classic Exhibits held its Annual Watermelon Seed Spittin’ Contest delayed by one year because of, well, you know.

Ripe, Seeded Watermelons

As any watermelon aficionado can attest, there is no sweeter or juicier melon than a ripe, thumpy, seeded watermelon. Just saying those words makes most mouths drench in anticipation of that first burst of summery sweet goodness. What is summer without a fresh juicy watermelon? I’ll tell you what it is… It’s Fall! Fehhh!

After Classic provided a yummy meal of barbecued steaks and grilled chicken (THANX, Chef-Boy-R-Kev), it was time.

With full bellies and a wedge of beautifully sweet and seeded watermelon slices clenched between their fingers, our competitors brought their toes to the line and began launching serious bursts of saliva-enrobed seeds.

The rules are simple. Each spitter gets two seeds/two spits. The spitter cannot cross the launch line until after the seed has left his/her body. And lastly, to be a valid spit, the seed must finish its travels on the Official Watermelon Seed Spittin’ Tarmac. If both spits land off the Tarmac, that spitter is DQ’d (disqualified). With the Tarmac being a mere 60” wide a spitter must show his/her prowess in both distance AND accuracy.

If you can make a taco with your tongue, cool. It kind of acts like a channel so when you spit with your tongue rolled it cannons out with a wet and forceful SPITOOEY!

Mel White was given the honor of launching the inaugural spit for Spit-a-Palooza 2021 and what a spit it was. He made Marketeers the world over proud.

By the time the spittin’ was over, records had been shattered.


  1. Women’s Gold…………..Jen LaBruzza – 23’-9”
  2. Women’s Silver…………Lindsey Carty – 19’-7”
  3. Women’s Bronze……….Paras Semenov – 12’-11”
  1. Men’s Gold…………………James Sharpe – 24’-4”
  2. Men’s Silver……………….Shawn Ellis – 22’-1/4”
  3. Men’s Bronze……………..James Zuber – 19’-5 ¾”
2021 Winners

These Champions are the best Classic has. With the pressure bearing down they launched their seeds with a velocity and accuracy seldom seen around Portland. Quite simply… they are our best. At least for another year.

FREE Show Hall Pass for EXHIBITORLIVE 2021

August 16th, 2021 COMMENTS

Join Classic Exhibits and Classic Rental Solutions for EXHIBITORLIVE 2021 on October 31 in Las Vegas. For a free show hall pass, enter #4044 when you register for the trade show.

While there, please stop and visit with the Classic Exhibits Family at booth #324. It’s been a while and we have a lot to show you.

10 Days in Review – The Trade Show Industry in Recovery

August 12th, 2021 COMMENTS
Outdoor Retailer 2021

Starting August 2, I hit the road for two very different exhibit industry events Together Again Expo and Summer Outdoor Sports Retail Expo and Conference. Those events demonstrated that we’re an industry in active, long-term recovery.

Together Again Expo and Job Fair

Together Again Job Fair and Expo

Last Monday, I took a red-eye flight to Philadelphia and then a short drive to Atlantic City for the Together Again Expo and Job Fair. This is an event organized and managed by the National Trade Show Alliance. The NTSA is not another association; rather, it’s a group of Live Event Professionals dedicated to getting our our industry back to work. NTSA showcases the excellent programs available from industry associations like EDPA, IAEE, SISO, EACA, MPI, IAVM, and many more.

The Together Again Expo took a regional approach with the help of Mark Yuska and Alliance Exposition. They work to attract workers (new and old) to our great industry and promote employment opportunities.

The event was held in Atlantic City for many reasons. The NE and Mid-Atlantic markets are strong tradeshow markets, and Atlantic City is a great venue for shows of all sizes. With the amazing help of Meet AC, we were able to pull off the first “post-pandemic” event in the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The event was a one-day Job Fair and Expo with featured speakers and panels from EDPA, IAEE, MPI, and the Exhibitions and Conference Alliance (ECA). While the event was small, it had solid content including wonderful keynote speakers.

  • Odie Parkins from the Eastern Atlantic States Brotherhood of Carpenters on the meaning of “service” and representing an entire city,
  • Paisley Demby from Goldman Sachs on their 10,000 Small Businesses program, which is transforming business leaders and their companies,
  • And an Industry Updates Panel Discussion with Dasher Lowe (EDPA), Tommy Goodwin (ECA), Don Svehla (Exhibit City News), and me

In the panel discussion, we learned about the extensive and aggressive advocacy work being done by EDPA and ECA over the past 18 months and the continued efforts on Capitol Hill happening every day.

Our road to recovery is going to be long. But there’s an overwhelming feeling of togetherness. In the great words of my (our) friend Chris Griffin from CrewXP, “This is what recovery looks like. It’s going to be up and down and lumpy.”

Summer Outdoor Retailer

On August 9, I traveled to Denver for the Summer Outdoor Retailer event at the Denver Convention Center. Walking onto the show floor on Day 1 was a rush, seeing the crowds filing into the convention center. Major kudos to Emerald Exposition, the show organizer, for their dedication to safety. I received my badge electronically a few days before the event. When I arrived at the registration desk, I scanned my phone over a QR Reader which in turn printed a paper badge with lanyard. After getting my badge, I received a complimentary spray bottle of hand sanitizer.

Riding the escalator up to the show hall, I could feel the excitement and hear it in the conversations around me. At the entrance, there was a sign about masks, which, following CDC Guidance, stated you had the option to wear your mask or not (if you are vaccinated), but recommended everyone wear masks. Next I noticed the wider concrete aisles. Concrete aisles have become the default standard for many shows. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like that change, but I prefer it to be honest.

The floor was smaller than in the past, approximately 30% smaller in the main hall. There were more 20 ft. inline exhibits than they normally have. Food services were in the back, and the tables were large and with comfortable distances between them.

Exhibitor Feedback

I spoke to every exhibitor that would talk to me… which was most. The tone was upbeat. Over and over I heard, “Yes there are fewer people here, BUT the attendees that are here are the buyers which is great!” One of the staffers from Lowa Boots was very generous with her time. What stuck with me was her comments regarding having the right people in attendance which meant they could have longer, more productive conversations.

In-booth experiences were managed well. One of the exhibitors was a whiskey company. Their in-booth game had attendees cast a fishing rod for prizes. After each person used the rod, the rod and their hands were sprayed for safety.

As a show for outdoor sporting, there were a lot of wood products and faux greenery in the larger exhibits creating a natural environment. Many of the smaller non-portable exhibits were built by the exhibitors themselves, with the same rustic outdoor feel.

Again, tremendous kudos to Emerald Exposition for showing the world that a live event CAN happen and be SAFE for their exhibitors and attendees.

Recovery is Just Beginning

This recovery process is just beginning. My compliments to those industries pressing forward safely and not abandoning ship on their events. Not trying to shame anyone because it’s a tough call, but clearly face-to-face marketing creates a level of commerce that cannot be found anywhere else. And part of our overall recovery as a country requires that we get back to business sooner rather than later. I applaud those taking the proper precautions to hold and participate in trade shows and events.

Onward and upward folks! Be patient because it will be a bumpy but worthwhile ride.

Be Well!

Kevin Carty

Wireless Charging for Trade Show Counters and Tables

August 4th, 2021 COMMENTS

USB and Wireless Charging Options

Charging options for trade show exhibits are not new. However, they’ve rarely been designed to be visually attractive in the booth. How often have you seen a clunky charging stand, more appropriate for a airport than a trade show, in an island or inline exhibit?

Wireless charging pads with USB options are the ideal solution. The pads are unobtrusive and the cord management can be integrated into the overall design. In fact, any flat surface like counters, tables, workstations, and pedestals is perfect for a wireless charging pad (and graphics).

Curious? See the extensive selection of charging solutions in Exhibit Design Search.

Parsons Counter with Locking Storage and Charging Ports
Custom Counter with Storage and Charging Ports
Parsons Counter with Drawer and Charging Ports

–Mel White


Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, hybrid, and custom exhibit solutions, including Symphony Portable Displays. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or