Indianapolis has snagged a tasty treat for its 2021 convention calendar because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Confectioners Association announced Wednesday that next year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo will take place June 22-25 at the Indianapolis Convention Center, instead of at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
The association attributed the move—the first time it won’t be held in Chicago since it began in 1997—to COVID-19 locking down the city. Chicago is not expected to loosen convention restrictions until after a viable vaccine has come to market. The group’s 2020 expo was canceled due to the pandemic.
“After much discussion with our stakeholders in the candy and snack industries and careful consideration of our options, we’ve seen strong support for an in-person event,” the group’s President & CEO John Downs said in written remarks.
“We want to balance the safety and welfare of our attendees with their desire to conduct in-person business and therefore have decided to move forward with a show that exceeds expectations and makes every effort to keep our attendees safe,” Downs said.
Crain’s Chicago Business first reported the news.
The Sweets & Snacks Expo generally draws more than 800 candy and snack vendors from 90 countries. The 2021 event is expected to have more than 13,000 attendees and generate an economic impact of $10.2 million, according to Visit Indy. The event is also expected to utilize up to 4,300 hotel rooms during its peak night.
“This is a convention and expo we’ve been courting for years, and because of COVID-19 and because of …[upgrades to the convention center] we’re able to open our doors and welcome this trade show to Indianapolis,” Chris Gahl, vice president of Visit Indy told IBJ. “This is a big win for Indy any year, and given the pandemic this is extra sweet to steer this convention here.”
The group plans to return to Chicago in 2022.
Indianapolis is one of only a handful of cities that has hosted large events during the pandemic. The Indiana Convention Center welcomed 50,000 people from early July to late August, including thousands for youth basketball tournaments.
The Sweets & Snacks Expo news comes two weeks after the Archery Trade Association canceled its January trade show because of uncertainty over the pandemic.