Indianapolis to Welcome First Post-Pandemic Trade Show in June

Sue Pelletier, Senior Editor
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After a year of hosting mainly sporting events and smaller meetings, the Indiana Convention Center will host its first true trade show next month when the National Confectioners Association brings its Sweets and Snacks Expo to Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS — While Indianapolis has hosted 368,828 attendees at 76 in-person events since last July, none of them were a true trade show. That makes the news that the National Confectioners Association is bringing its 8,000-person expo — the largest confectionery and snack event in North America — to the Indiana Convention Center from June 22–25 especially delicious.

“We have been safely hosting events of up to 20,000 attendees since last July,” said Leonard Hoops, President and CEO of Visit Indy. “Of course, most recently we successfully hosted the entire NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. And now with vaccines widely available and organizations beginning to exhibit at and attend trade shows again, Indy is ready to lead the way in hosting business events while mitigating health and safety risks both for our community and our visitors.”

“The Sweets & Snacks Expo will be a very special show this year,” John Downs, President and CEO of the National Confectioners Association, said. “With recent safety guidance from the CDC easing social distancing requirements and declaring that domestic travel is safe, the Expo is well-timed for the confectionery and snack industries, and our retail partners. While the event will be different than in past years, we’re excited to get back to business — and, of course, make meaningful connections, gain category insights, and experience two years of product innovation on the show floor.” The Expo is on track to attract more than 2,250 retail attendees to explore more than 130,000 square feet of candy and snack product exhibits.

Leonard Hoops, President and CEO of Visit Indy
Leonard Hoops, President and CEO of Visit Indy

The National Confectioners Association’s Sweets & Snacks Expo had called Chicago home since its first All Candy Expo was held at Chicago’s Navy Pier in 1997 — until last year, when it was canceled due to COVID-19. It moved to Indianapolis for 2021 because of COVID restrictions and protocols that still were in place at the time the decision to relocate the event was made, according to Visit Indy.

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Indianapolis’s $7 million in health and safety upgrades to the Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, along with its proven ability to host other events, sweetened the relocation deal for the National Confectioners Association, NCA’s Downs said.

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“Our move to Indianapolis for the 2021 show allows us to offer an in-person event, for which we have seen immense support from within the industry. We are grateful to the City of Indianapolis and the Indiana Convention Center for their efforts in ensuring a safe and successful event, as they have with many major events over the past few months including the NCAA tournament. To that end, the city has invested $7 million in the convention center facilities for enhanced safety measures, including hospital-grade air filtration, touchless doors, Clorox 360 sanitation, hand sanitizer stations and safe concessions and dining areas. Additionally, we will have safety protocols in place that reflect guidance from the CDC and local health authorities.”

The numbers tell the story: As of May 12, more than 425 exhibitors have confirmed they would attend, including many who are exhibiting at the show for the first time.

“We are thrilled to have so much support and look forward to welcoming attendees to the must-attend event for leaders within the candy and snack industries. And as for 2022, we’ll be returning to Chicago,” Downs said.

Just the Beginning of Trade Show Returns to Indy

While the Sweets and Snacks Expo is the first trade show to return to Indianapolis, it is just the beginning of what city officials hope will be a smorgasbord of conventions to come — and there are 29 of them already scheduled to be held at the Convention Center through December. Following on the heels of the Confectioners Association show will be the annual Water & Wastewater Equipment, Treatment & Transport Show, which is scheduled to bring 8,700 attendees to the Convention Center June 29–July 2. 30,000 attendees are expected for FDIC International in August and 15,000 for CEDIA Expo in early September.  

The showstopper, as always for Indianapolis, will be the Indy 500, which is expected to bring 135,000 race fans to the city over Memorial Day weekend. The race will replace the Kentucky Derby, which brought 51,000 people to Churchill Downs in Louisville in May, as the largest sporting event in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic.

 Reach Leonard Hoops at (317) 262-3000 or lhoops@VisitIndy.com