protoTYPING: Weird Trade Shows

protoTYPING: Weird Trade Shows

No matter if you are a product development professional or a shade tree inventor, chances are you will find yourself at a trade show some day.

Trade shows are gatherings of industry professionals, vendors, buyers, media and the rest of the ecosystem that supports the development and sales of products.?They are often set up in large convention centers with exhibitors showing off their wares and visitors checking them out. Most trade shows center on a theme (electronics, baby products, hunting, etc.), and are a great place for people to meet, see new products and trends and network with others in the industry.

Trade shows give people the chance to see state of the art products and processes like this attendee of the 2017 CES show.

The biggest trade shows like CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and the International Home and Housewares Show get a lot of media coverage as the exhibitors are showcasing consumer-facing products for huge markets. These are the shows that even Kathie Lee and Hoda Kotb cover. However, there is a whole underbelly of trade shows for industries that are not necessarily top of mind.

Here are five oddball trade shows that you have probably never heard of to add to your 2018 show calendar.



October 23-26, 2018 – Orlando, FL?

Working on a better mouse trap? Then this trade show is for you.

PestWorld brings together pest management firms, technicians and the latest technology in dealing with animal pests like termites and rats as well as fungus and mold. Nearly 4,000 people attended the 2017 show in Baltimore to peruse the 125,000 square feet of exhibit space and 200 exhibitors. This is the premier event for debuting new pest control products like insect sprayers, pesticides, bird and mammal control products and the cadre of equipment that goes with it like dispensers and safety equipment.

Casket and Funeral Supply Association of America Trade Show


2018 date TBA

While this may sound like the setting for an episode of “Six Feet Under,” it is real event and perhaps the most macabre trade show in the US. The CFSAA show brings together industry pros who specialize in death to show off the latest funeral products. The 2017 show in Indianapolis featured more than 40 exhibitors including a multitude of casket makers, chemical suppliers (for embalming fluid) and companies that make funeral decorations. Just don?t cross a black cat on your way into the show.

Transworld?s Halloween and Attractions Show


March 22-25, 2018 – St. Louis, MO

Sticking with the theme of death, The Halloween and Attractions show (HAA) has been bringing together Day of the Dead professionals for three decades. The show caters to anyone in the attractions industry (Halloween-related or not) from people who run corn mazes and paintball fields to those who work at amusement parks and Halloween stores. Exhibitors include prop and mask makers as well as more high-tech amusements like virtual reality.

The 2018 show boasts ?Escape Room City? which is a show area devoted to the burgeoning escape room industry as well as a pre-show bus tour to Nashville to visit a haunted house. I will take Halloween in March over Christmas in July any day.

Electronic Cigarette Convention


February 9-11 – Ontario, CA

Was that a minor earthquake or did the Marlboro Man just roll over in his grave?

The Electronic Cigarette Convention (ECC) was the first trade show devoted to the e-cigarette and vaping industry and has been going strong for six years. While the first day of ?the show is limited to industry insiders, it is open to the public for the rest of the weekend. Attendees get face-to-face access to their favorite vaporizer and liquid brands and get to try new technologies and blends. The show has proven to be so popular that they have even added an event in Detroit in April.

International Pizza Expo


March 19 – 22 – Las Vegas, NV

Whether you are a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, or a human pizza lover, ?Avoid the Noid? and get to Vegas in March.

The International Pizza Expo (IPE) boasts over 500 exhibitors and 1,400 booths to sink your teeth into. The world’s largest pizza industry show has been running for 34 years and brings together pizza pros from all over the world. Exhibitors include ingredient suppliers, pizza equipment manufacturers and promotional firms to help independent and chain pizzerias maximize their businesses.

World Pizza Games

The IPE also hosts a competition called the World Pizza Games which includes 5 events to test pizza makers skills. Any one at the show can compete in Freestyle Acrobatic Dough Tossing, Fastest Dough, Largest Dough Stretch, Fastest Pizza Box Folding and Pizza Triathlon. For an additional fee, show goers can go on a guided tour of the best pizzerias in Vegas. ?If it sounds too good to be true, there is a catch as attendance is not open to the public. There has never been a better excuse to open your own pie shop.

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