It has been almost a year since the last in-person trade show was held in the US, and while organizers have been very innovative in moving their shows to virtual platforms, people are itching to meet in-person again. That is why Viva Fresh is committed to having a hybrid event with an in-person expo at the end of March. “We are 100% committed to having an in-person show,” says Dante Galeazzi of TIPA. “The only way the in-person show doesn’t happen is if the local guidelines make it impossible, but that is currently not the case.”
Members of the Board of Directors for the Texas International Produce Association attend the official opening of the Viva Fresh 2019 trade show. Dante Galeazzi and Jimmy Garza cut the ribbon.
In-person expo floor, virtual educational sessions
The Viva Fresh planning committee has been very thorough in ensuring that all social distancing and other safety guidelines will be met at the show. “We usually have between 2,200 – 2,400 attendees, but this year we decided to cap the attendee number at 1,200. This is a very firm cap, so if you aren’t registered yet, make sure you do soon!” The space in which the event will be held will also be tailored specifically to social distancing: “There will be 12-to-14-foot aisles, 6 feet between each booth, large, designated meeting areas with plexiglass shields, hand sanitizer everywhere and masks will be mandatory,” Galeazzi explains.
In addition to this, the organizing team have come up with a system to ensure that everyone feels comfortable at the show. “We will have lanyards in different colors to indicate a person’s comfort level. Red lanyards will mean ‘please keep your distance,’ yellow lanyards indicate that fist bumps and closer conversations are okay, but with masks on. Finally, there’s the green lanyard that mean you are comfortable with close interaction and conversation,” says Galeazzi. The event spaces will also have designated areas corresponding to these comfort levels. “We want to make sure we respect the comfort levels and health requests of all attendees,” Galeazzi adds.
The hybrid event is set up to have the expo floor in-person and the educational sessions virtually. “All the networking and social pieces will be in person, but we just don’t want to crowd people into an auditorium, so we decided to have that portion of the show virtually. The only session that will remain in-person is the keynote lunch where Dr. Ian Smith will discuss his views on the importance of real food as part of our lifestyles, as well as reviewing the results of the Clean Eating Challenge,” Galeazzi says.
Providing the familiar Viva Fresh Experience
Even though so much is different this year, the organizers worked hard to ensure that Viva Fresh will be the same familiar experience it always is. “Networking is central to Viva Fresh. It’s a smaller, more intimate and high-quality show, and that is what we want to provide to people, in a clean and safe way. We will still bring people the information they need about the TexMex corridor, focus on presenting the many different & unique suppliers in our regions. We will still explore and present the flavors of our region through demos and samples and provide the foodie experience,” Galeazzi says.
“Throughout the past year, we have learned how to work with Covid, how to travel with it, shop with it, move around and engage with it. Now, we are putting all that experience together to design this Covid-time trade show. We want people to be excited about the industry when they arrive, and to be even more excited about the industry when they leave,” Galeazzi concludes.