Conventions, trade shows, conferences or expos—no matter what you call them, they’re an opportunity to connect with industry players and get up to speed on the latest innovations.
“Ride an Iron Horse to Dallas, without the danger of blisters in the wrong place!” This ad for the 43rd annual convention heralded train travel as the ideal way to get to Dallas.
James E. McGregor, the first editor of the Review and the association’s first employee and executive secretary, once described the yearly meeting of tent and awning business owners—now known as IFAI Expo—as the “homecoming of the industry.” Then known as conventions, the events in the 1920s tended to be rowdy, one featuring a live elephant and others, jugs of moonshine.
In support of WWII travel restrictions, the annual convention was put on hiatus for 1944 and 1945. The 1943 “war conference” at the Drake Hotel in Chicago focused on how the industry could support the war effort.
At the 31st annual meeting in 1942, two Army generals and a major addressed the conference.
“If you men stay away you are dead and don’t know it. It is no use indulging in ‘I think I’ll go, or perhaps I’ll go.’ The road to hell is paved with good intentions; the road to poor business, prejudices and lack of cooperation is paved with ‘I should have gone, I meant to have gone, whyinell [sic] didn’t I go?’ Gosh all hemlock, we want you!” — James E. McGregor, Review editor and director of the association 1912–1952