Massive snacks convention picks Indy over sweet home Chicago for 2021 expo

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.

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7 thoughts on “Massive snacks convention picks Indy over sweet home Chicago for 2021 expo

  1. This is great, but sounds like Indy will be investing a lot in a one and done show. I would have pushed for a 2-year commitment. I go to this show every year and Chicago is the worst to have an event like this.

    1. Agree. It seems a little odd for the one and done. Pretty unusual. I am biased, but why any organization would be so attached to McCormick is beyond me.

    2. One is better then none. It’s been in Chicago since 1997. Obviously the organizers are happy with Chicago, but since Chicago will not loosen convention restrictions until there is a viable vaccine out, they have to make plans for 2021 and Indy getting it is great. It’s an opportunity to show what Indy can do and possibly steal them away for 2022 and beyond. Otherwise it’s better to have it once then not at all. Which probably would have been the case had they played hardball for a two year commitment.

    1. Ability to contain/ isolate ICC with hotels, restaurants, etc. via walkways. Never have to leave the contained environment.

  2. im very impressed with how bold indy has been during the pandemic and think in the long run it wil put indy in an even better position than it already is. i feel it only makes since to keep pushing forward and be ready once the pandemic finally passes.if we’re to believe things will ever get better it only makes business since to get ahead of the rest of the competition.

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