GIE+EXPO, the international landscape, outdoor living, and equipment exposition, will be held as planned this year on October 21- 23 at the Kentucky Exposition Center (KEC) in Louisville, say show organizers. They also promise to design and develop the event with all necessary COVID-19 safety protocols in place.
“Everyone is asking if GIE+EXPO is happening. What I can say is the show is expected go on. We’re planning for it,” says Kris Kiser, president of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), the managing partner of GIE+EXPO.
OPEI is actively working with its tradeshow partners — the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and the Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) — to design a safe and responsible event that will offer programming and education that directly addresses the challenges faced by the pandemic. Also returning, held in conjunction with GIE+EXPO, is Hardscape North America, a long-standing, co-located trade show.
“We are saddened and frustrated by the pandemic situation and the ensuing losses we have faced but there is a need to learn from this, and GIE+EXPO’s leadership has pledged to offer programming that will do just that,” says Kiser. With the equipment and landscape industries deemed essential, many landscapers, dealers, distributors, and OEMs have been operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, illustrating the importance of outdoor space and the people who make it.
Kiser also points out, “GIE+EXPO is fortunately held at the KEC, as it has been the last thirty-eight years. The venue is flexible with multiple outdoor areas and buildings. We can easily spread out. We’ve got a million square feet and twenty acres of outdoor space at the KEC, so we’ve got a lot of room to work with. We have additional buildings such as the West wing, Broadbent Arena and other areas available to us that allow for expanding our show footprint as needed,” he says. “So, bring comfortable shoes because the physical footprint may get bigger to ensure your safety.”
Expansion is not new to GIE+EXPO, which has utilized many of the additional buildings the KEC offers as needed. “Last year we were able to put up a sixty-foot sugar maple in Freedom Hall, and plans are underway for our first-ever Drone Zone and UTV test track this fall,” Kiser says. “The show this year might look a little different, but if you feel safe going to your local garden center, dealership and grocery story, you should feel safe coming to GIE+EXPO.”
Kiser also encourages attendees not to wait to register for the event or book hotel stays. “To date,” he says, “registrations and exhibitor space reservations are on par with last year’s record-setting numbers. Anyone waiting to make hotel reservations or to register, don’t. There’s no risk to doing them early. Otherwise, you may not get your hotel of choice.” He adds that the city of Louisville, restaurants, tourist attractions, shuttle companies, hotels and other venues are preparing protocols to be open for safe and responsible operations.
Kiser adds, “We know our world is different, but we will incorporate and utilize the safety protocols of the professionals. So register early and, again, bring those comfortable shoes.”
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