Conferences, Trade Shows, et al

For many, many years I’ve been fortunate to attend and present at professional and academic conferences. They have either been museum or folklore meetings and others from time to time. I’ve traveled much of the US and the world this way.

A shadow box I made of places I’ve been with coins, mementos, and fortunes. Heinz pickle for Pittsburgh where I was born!

I guess the folklore meetings were the first – and the first one was 1977 in Seattle. My first museum conference was the 1980 International Council of Museums (ICOM) triennial in Mexico City. I opened my mouth during discussions about folk art and bad-a-boom … was named chair of the newly Folk Art Working Group! Goodness, I had just returned to grad school. But I dove in, took it seriously, and in the stone-age way before social media established a snail mail newsletter to all who wanted to be involved.

Four years later, after the next triennial in London, I organized a small gathering of the folk art group in Greece, where I was doing research. The proceedings were published when I get back in the school in the student folklore publication, Folklore Forum ( wp-content/uploads/sites/16/2019/01/ICME_1984_Greece.pdf). Wow, so long ago!

What came from all of this? Travel, yes. Some publications (for professional advancement), busman’s holidays (seeing museums while on “vacation”), and friends (some of whose far-flung homes I’ve visited). Some of whom we welcomed into our home.

This month was the first time since that first Mexico meeting that I did not attend the ICOM triennial; that’s another story! In its place, I attended 2 trade shows and, boy, are they different from the professional conferences!

Actually, in the past few years, I’ve attended several trade shows locally. They have been food and wine shows that my cooking buddy, Hue, got me into. It’s interesting to see and taste new food products available from around the world. Especially astounding was the growing number of so-called energy drinks. I don’t know about you, but I do not understand their charm.

A recent food show was FIBEGA, an international gastronomy fair ( So interesting to see representation from many countries – most Latin America – and to taste their local specialities. I was given an amazing new Paraguayan cookbook.

Not really Peru, at Fibega

Most recently, I attended a CBD show. Again, I was bowled over by the vast number of products infused with CBDs. Wow … and are they really effective?

What especially stood out to me at these shows was how outgoing and entrepreneurial the vendors are. They reached out when you passed by with samples or to share information about their products. The vendors at the many folklore and museum conferences I’d attended rarely left their seats to entice passersby to enter their booths! In contrast this was engagingly delightful.

One of the skills I developed and used during my years in ICOM was that of organizing the annual meetings of the Ethnographic Museums Committee. First was a long-ago, very small gathering in Greece. A larger meeting in Miami, including a post-conference tour to St. Augustine followed many years later. As Chair, I worked with the local organizers to shape the many elements of 6 annual meetings outside of the US.

A few months ago, I received a phone call inviting me to be a “hosted buyer” to the annual IMEX show in Las Vegas. Well, yes … why not? I’d be glad to gather information for the current leadership of the Ethnography Committee. What a whirlwind of three days! Who would have known how large this industry is, from convention bureaus, to planners, to who knows what else. The set-up was very different – I made appointments with vendors that I speculated our group might be interested in. After all these years in my profession, there’s so much more to learn!

And the perks … A day before I left, I reviewed the program and told my husband that one could drink through the whole day and get yummy treats! I enjoyed a Moscow Mule from Spokane (a took home the cup) and chocolates from Seattle, a morning Bloody Mary one day, and wine every afternoon!

The Koreans are big on fans – had to make something while there!

Another perk at all the conferences is the swag. I’ve always shared the goodies – pens, pencils, pads of papers, whatnot – from the annual museum meetings with my co-workers. This time, I brought home all sorts of the same and t-shirts, sun glasses, tote bags and more. I have more co-workers and friends to share with. And fun photos you can snap of yourself – I’m averse to photos, but this is so much fun!

With Las Vegas behind me, what adventure is next? Can’t wait to see what comes my way or what I conjure up to do.

Bau Mitsusaki from Japan making a candy cat
With a beautiful lady, learning Thai dance

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