Whether you’re a trade show newbie or a seasoned veteran, Equine Affaire Nov. 9-12 in West Springfield, Massachusetts—this year celebrating its 25th anniversary—is sure to be both exciting and overwhelming. After all, it’s billed as the “largest horse-related trade show in the East,” with more than 300 exhibitors.
A typical trade show visitor reaction goes something like this: “Oh, WOW! So many booths! So much information! And wait–what about that display over there? And MERCH! Whoo-hoo, holiday shopping! Oh no, I’ve missed my favorite clinician (or an interesting seminar). Gosh, my feet hurt. I’m hungry. And I can’t carry all this stuff I’ve collected … HELP!”
Luckily, with a little advance preparation, you can ensure that your time at Equine Affaire will be not only fun, educational and productive but targeted to your own preferences. Here are a few tips to review beforehand:
1. Check the Equine Affaire website for ticketing options.
The website is your best resource for everything from local hotels and campsites to event hours and those all-important maps and trade show exhibitor/vendor lists. Also, remember that a separate ticket is required for “Fantasia,” the expo’s signature musical celebration of the horse.
2. Pack comfortable walking shoes, band-aids, water and a small snack.
Even at the most fascinating trade show, nothing dampens one’s enthusiasm faster than blistered feet, thirst or hunger when on the move. (And trust us, you’ll be moving.)
3. Bring a large fold-up tote bag.
You’ll need a place to put all the brochures, business cards and miscellaneous materials you’ll be collecting during your rounds. The load can get heavy, so the lighter the bag, the better! It’s a good idea, too, to throw a ballpoint pen and small notepad into the bag for jotting down ideas, phone numbers and the like. You never know what (or who) you’ll encounter at an expo and trade show.
4. Pick up or print out a map of the venue (the Eastern States Exposition).
Also take a look at the exhibitor/vendor list, so you can identify which booths you’d like to visit. Then …
5. Check the event’s schedule of clinics, seminars and demonstrations.
Make note of the timeslots and locations for those you simply can’t miss. Keep in mind there will also be an Equine Fundamentals Forum, a College/Career Fair, a Versatile Horse & Rider Competition, breed exhibits, horses for sale and a whole lot more going on. (Which is why Equine Affaire runs multiple days!)
6. Plan your route.
Using your map, your notes about your must-see events and any updates about booth locations (check the website),sit down and plan your schedule and route around the venue. (Because who wants to have to double back?) Be sure to factor in time for lunch—making note of the food vendor locations—if you’re staying all day. Then add your new itinerary to your purse or tote bag in preparation for the big day.
7. Charge up your charged-up smartphone.
Also bring an extra charger or battery pack just in case. We guarantee you’ll want to take (and post!) photos galore, and maybe even make a call or two.
8. Get shopping!
While the clinics, seminars and demonstrations are a vital educational component of Equine Affaire, the trade show’s acres of equine products and services are what attracts many visitors, especially with gift-giving season right around the corner. You’ll be treated to a wide array of tack, riding apparel, gifts and grooming supplies, not to mention trailers, farm equipment, fencing and more. There’s even a Marketplace Consignment Shop with easy access for drop-off and pick-up of gently used equestrian goods.
So don’t forget your wallet! And last but not least: Have fun!