Fabric foundations IFAI Expo

Train hold up shocks conventioneers

White Rock, Texas, Oct. 14, 1956. It was high noon on the Texas prairie, and the mood aboard the Santa Fe Special heightened as the passengers prepared for their arrival at the 43rd annual convention in Dallas. Without warning, the train was brought to a halt. “Great heavens!” one passenger remarked, “Was that a rider with a gun?”

The holdup had been accomplished. Passengers were amazed. Confusion ruled. The holdup gang boarded the train. By then some of the passengers recognized the “badmen” as members of the National Canvas Goods Manufacturers Association, a previous name of the Industrial Fabrics Association International. With serenity and goodwill again in full sway, the special train headed into Dallas.


For the 21st annual convention of the National Tent and Awning Manufacturers Association (a previous name of the Industrial Fabrics Association International), the program was printed on awning fabric.

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The convention reached national prominence with an advertising campaign featuring Dave Garroway of NBC’s Today show giving pointers about canvas awnings. For three months Garroway pitched canvas awnings as the best shade under the sun. Marketing collateral for the campaign was available for awning manufacturers in the form of stickers, streamers, TV commercials and newspaper advertisements.

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In 1957 the 44th national convention was held in New York City. Activities included a solid program along with “plenty of entertainment” and, of course, shopping.

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