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AETA Orlando Show Encourages Equestrian Trade

The AETA (American Equestrian Trade Association) International Trade Show held in Orlando during the first weekend in February was marked by positive energy, camaraderie, sunny skies and the sounds of business being conducted. The exhibit floor featured 244 booths occupied by 103 companies, representing 354 different product lines. Buyers traveled to the show from 34 of the US states and from 9 foreign countries. Our foreign buyers represented 27 different stores. In total, exhibitors met with 441 buyers from 226 stores. The variety and quality of participation was impressive.

AETA recognized achievements on the exhibit floor by presenting Best Exhibit Awards in three categories. Considering the quality of the exhibits overall, the judges’ job was not an easy one. The winners were Polo Gear Inc. in the small category, Kerrits Equestrian Apparel in the medium category and German Equestrian Manufacturers (GEM) in the large category. The panel of judges included Robert Patterson of Atlanta Saddlery, Barbara Karsten of Tack ‘n Togs, Bruce Carlton of BMC Enterprises and Crystal Bennett of the World Equestrian Games. The Exhibit Awards Program will grow to honor creative and aesthetic achievement in more categories.

AETA also presented certificates to recognize new products. Based on the high level of interest from tradeshow participants, AETA will offer a full awards program for new product recognition at the Baltimore Show. Emily Esterson of Equestrian Retailer has volunteered to chair the awards program.

As one would expect from an equestrian trade show, “Green Initiatives” was another popular recognition program. All around the exhibit floor, “green apples” were posted to acknowledge exhibitors’ green products and practices. Call the AETA office if you’d like to be involved in producing a booklet for members that summarizes what we learned from exhibitors in Orlando about “green initiatives”.

Show-goers also found time for education and inspiration. The always informative Tom Shay made a presentation on “Characteristics & Pedigree”. Crystal Bennett, Marketing Coordinator, World Equestrian Games, talked about the building excitement and support for the 2010 Games in Lexington, KY, the first time the U.S will compete on home soil. Deb Balliet, CEO and Georgiana Hubbard McCabe, President, Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, discussed the importance of land conservation to the future of equestrian activities. Bob Cacchione, Founder & Executive Director, Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, talked about IHSA initiatives to build interest in riding among younger people, and their impact on the future of equestrian trade.

The Show provided some less formal activities as well. On Saturday, AETA hosted a reception on the Show floor to celebrate a successful first, very busy day. The Market Party on Sunday evening was arguably the best ever. In addition to a lavish buffet and live music for dancing, a mini theatre was set up for football fans to watch the Super Bowl.

At AETA’s Bi-Annual meeting following the reception on Saturday evening, official reports on the Association’s operations were followed by presentations by some of our industry partners: Deb Balliet of Equestrian Land Conservation Resource, Bob Cacchione of IHSA and Crystal Bennett of World Equestrian Games. The overall theme of their presentations was the need to nurture equestrian recreation; without riders, there is no business. To that end, AETA has formed alliances with these associations and their representatives.

Excitement is building for the August 2-4 AETA International Trade Fair to be held in Baltimore, MD. AETA and its show producer, Hopper Expositions, are very much involved in planning a show that will exceed all expectations. Many already have signed up to exhibit, including exhibitors who were not in attendance at the Orlando Show. For forms and information, visit the AETA web site: http://www.aetanews.com


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