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It’s All Happening

Welcoming the return of in-person events.

Imagine the lights, imagine the people
Imagine us in the middle of the crowd

That’s part of the chorus of a song called “It’s All Happening,” from Bring It On: The Musical, a Broadway show with songs co-written by a pre-Hamilton (but post-In the Heights) Lin-Manual Miranda. It’s a catchy riff, and it has been going through my head a lot lately as my inbox fills with announcements of — and invitations to — in-person events.


In February 2020, the thought of a year-plus without in-person tradeshows, trainings, and networking events would have been inconceivable. A year without a CEDIA Expo…without a CES?! Unthinkable. But as buying groups canceled their fall events, distributors pulled their training programs, and associations and show providers went virtual with their large industry gatherings, it became all too real.

And while, after a scary slowdown, custom installers were fortunate enough to stay busy through the pandemic, we were all missing those key experiences that bring life to our businesses — exchanging ideas with a group of peers, scrutinizing new products in person, and hands-on training.

But now we are seeing the industry ease back into the way it was before. The Dallas Market Center has already hosted lighting events, and a group of three rep firms eager for face-to-face action has created the TOLA Expo, which took place in Dallas at the end of June and featured top-shelf manufacturers such as Sound United, AudioControl, Samsung, and Lutron.

CEDIA’s in-person U.S. training comes back to its Fishers, IN, HQ in mid-July, and the summer months continue to show signs of event life with the ProSource Summer Conference heading to San Antonio, TX, from August 2 through 6.

That leads us to the fall — September and the first in-person CEDIA Expo since 2019. With InfoComm and NAB both moving their shows to October, this will be the first major AV tradeshow to be held in the U.S. since the shutdown, and that leads to a slew of questions. Will attendees and exhibitors still show up in droves? What will it be like to be in a tradeshow situation when we are all so woefully out of practice? Will exhibitors be content to pick up where they left off with their booths, or has the time away led to the creation of new experiences for attendees?

I can’t wait to find out. Yes, I will be there — not only for Residential Systems, but also as the editor of the Official CEDIA Expo Daily. The hard part so far is remembering all the processes for how we used to do all this stuff — book flights and hotels, build the Daily team, and blow the dust off the suitcases.

CEDIA Expo is definitely a line in the sand that we will cross on the way back to normalcy, but it doesn’t end there. As we continue through the fall, Azione Unlimited members can look forward to its fall conference in Nashville, with the HTSA’s event taking place a few days later from October 12 through 14 in Dallas.

After that, there is the typical holiday break over November and December, which leaves me time to mentally (and physically — they added a new hall!) prepare to travel to Las Vegas for CES 2022.

I can already imagine the people and being in the middle of a crowd, which, at this point in early July, still needs some getting used to. It’s all happening…