I won’t bother with Lightfair 2021 for several reasons. With only 233 exhibitors, it is smaller than LEDucation will be in the spring (usually tops 275 exhibitors). To put this in perspective, this is less than 1/3 a typical LF show of the past, covering less than 1/4 of the floor space. This will make it the smallest version of this show since 1983, when it was called LightWorld.
Looking at the exhibitor list exposes it for what it is. A bit of an over-marketed regional show for an odd collection of exhibitors – at best. This is not a national caliber showcase of the industry.
Why Lightfair insisted on pushing ahead with the show is not a mystery. The organizers and bodies involved likely need the income from the cancelation of 2020. To this end, they have forced many mid-level exhibitors into coming by threatening to forfeit deposits paid on top of pressure of points lost for 2022 space reservations – so there are those who caved to pressure and will be present, reluctantly, with abbreviated displays and minimal staffing.
None of the reasons for Lightfair and its organizers to press on with this show is a reason to attend. I do not attend events to show of support for producers that could not care less about me as an individual – this is not a religion, it is business. Further, it is an expensive show to attend in both time lost and costs involved. In recognition of that, I believe those putting on such events have an obligation to produce a show worth that investment. This year’s presentation fails that test – for me at least.
I do get the usual push for attending to be “there” to see things in hand, and meet people, etc… However, that assumes there is product there I need to see in person, and I question how effective the “meeting people” part will be with the ongoing COVID mess, mask and vaccination mandates, general concerns about travel and large gatherings (outside those who attend infamous political fan events). For New Yorkers, I wonder how relevant this is, when LEDucation is just a few months off and more intimately focused, not to mention distanced from COVID (hopefully) by then. Based on this, I will venture that attendance will be as thin as the exhibitor list. Further, due to the small number of exhibitors, and the odd mix of brands present, I cannot see attendees staying for more than a day before returning home, so meeting people will be somewhat hit and miss as they briefly come and go.
The one bright spot is that the 35 (34 if you subtract the one marketing course on leveraging Lightfair for business) mostly predictable, and a few unnecessary, presentations are likely to be very lightly attended, so the odds of having a meaningful dialog with topic presenters is very good. Unfortunately the schedule of presentation overlaps, and the track divisions, means it is difficult to attend more than 6-8 of the 34 for any single attendee (so much for the socializing thing) even if one stays for three days.
I have attended every national lighting show from Light World 3 to Lightfair events, from 1982 until somewhere around 2014, a couple years after I wrote an article on the over-saturation of shows in 2012 in SSL Observed, June 2012 . I have seen some pretty amazing shows over the years, and the explosion of the regional events (like the LEDucation event, which is a star IMHO) and their effectiveness. My attendance at Lightfair has been on and off since, with the last in 2019.
Looking at Lightfair 2021 as it stands, I have to wonder what they were thinking from a marketing perspective. It appears more an act of desperation and frustration than legitimate effort to produce a product worthy of the expense attendees will pay for it. To follow this long delayed October date with a coming Vegas show in June, makes one wonder – Is it time for a re-think about forcing a single National Show to happen every single year? Perhaps the example of the massive Light+Build event is a better model.
In any case, I do wish those who are attending and exhibiting my best. I am certain that I won’t be missed. If you get bored and need to reach out, I will be here, working.