Without any numbers to go on, it’s safe to say that the crowds and energy of MACNA 2012 was objectively very big and very excited this year. MACNA, the Marine Aquarium Conference of North America, is the oldest and largest conference about the hobby and business side of marine aquariums. Having taken place all over the country (and once in Canada), MACNA is a great place to see old friends, new corals and livestock and learn a thing or two.
MACNA is also an important industry show which channels the lifeblood of the hobby and therefore an important barometer for the health and success of our aquarium world as a whole. Having attended innumerable large aquarium conferences and industry trade shows including the last six MACNAs, what we saw in Dallas this year was an exceptional turnout which is an extremely good sign for the future of our hobby. And seeing as all of this aquarium spending falls under discretionary income, we might even say that a great MACNA translates to a better U.S. economy too.
Although DFW MACNA has not released any data about last weekend’s show, anyone who was there can tell you that by any measure, MACNA this year was a huge success. The exhibitor and manufacturer booths were stacked to the ceiling with searing hot new products. The livestock vendor booths were packed to the gills with gorgeous live coral colonies, frags and captive bred clownfish – seriously though, did you guys see the insanity at the World Wide Corals booth? The speaker rooms were filled, and a couple times overflowing, with attendees clamoring to hear the speaker presentations. The walkways of the actual show floor stayed pretty full, there musta been 1000 people at the banquet and you had to make huge detours of the standing room crowd waiting to hear announcements of all the amazing raffle prizes. We even have two major aquarium TV shows reppin’ at MACNA this year.
Not only was enthusiasm at an all time high this year, but the excitement for next year’s MACNA in South Florida is already at a fever pitch. The Florida Marine Aquarium Society was busting its posterior to sign up attendees for next year and they sold out of 160 vendor booths in 24 hours - twenty four hours!!! And to top it off, you wouldn’t believe the number of vendors who wanted booths for MACNA 2013 but who were ticked, borderline pissed that they couldn’t spend their marketing dollars for next year’s MACNA. Although FMAS is going to try their best to open up some more booths, having sold out of space in record time is a good problem to have for any convention.
There once was a time when it seemed like MACNA had lost its relevance, like it was going to suffer a death by a thousand cuts from the prolific local and regional reef shows all over the country. ReefAPalooza coming up in a few weeks has more attendees than MACNA, and it too is also growing year by year but its aim is different. MACNA has gotten so big that it attracts international visitors like representatives from Blue Harbor and LSS Laboratory of Japan. MACNA has become so important that the inventor of the needle wheel skimmer and owner of Deltec Wolfgang Weidl came all the way to America this year to see what we were up to. We had a freaking Cousteau, an internationally renowned ocean spokesperson came to speak to us at MACNA.
When Reef Builders goes to MACNA we bring along several of our best writers to cover all of the news of the show and we normally get it all covered during the weekend, or at the very least wrap it up the following week. This year we can tell you that we’ve still got a pile of livestock and new product stories from MACNA that will be populating the front page for at least one more week. Better yet, this year we also met and saw more young reefers and marine aquarists than ever before (shout out to Ben Bowland) and the only thing we like better than having a great time at aquarium shows is seeing the next generation of reefers who will be running the fish stores, growing the corals, breeding the fish, writing the blog posts and carrying the marine aquarium hobby well into the future. Any way you slice it or dice it, a huge successful MACNA this year and next is a very good sign for the aquarium hobby and the aquatics industry and we can’t wait to see what is in store for the twenty fifth MACNA in Florida next year.
Thanks to Hubert Chan for contributing his many great and candid snapshots of MACNA 2012
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