Reefapalooza is hosted by the Southern California Marine Aquarium Society and it was held at the Orange County Fair Grounds, Costa Mesa, California on October 20, through the 21. At 23,000 square feet this facility was large enough to house over 75 exhibitors, 7 Reef clubs, and several large display reef tanks. The two main sponsors of the event were Reef Hobbyists Magazine and Marine Depot. There were five speakers on tap, three on Saturday (Jake Adams, Reef Buddy and Tony Vargas) and two on Sunday (Scott Fellman and Ret Talbot). Was I excited attending my very first Reef-A-Palooza (RAP)? By all accounts yes! Not only was it exciting to be part of this history making event, but witnessing for myself the large crowds that enthusiastically congregated in this large hall was pleasing.
Often touted as “The World’s Largest Marine Aquarium Show”, some may ask what about MACNA? Well, the “C” in MACNA stands for conference and in a conference the main focus is on the educational and industry aspect of the event with lots of presentations and lots of business dealings. I also would like to point out that the number of exhibitors at MACNA 2012 was over 120. However, when it comes to the amount of attendees attending a saltwater show – RAP blows the doors off any other marine event in the world.
The doors to Reefapalooza open sharply at 10am to the sounds of a live rock band name Acoustic Conversation and to my amazement there was a ridiculously long line waiting to buy tickets for admission. Once paid, the attendees received a yellow Reef Nutrition bag filled with various handouts, coupons, and flyers from many companies in the industry. In addition, the first 500 bags included a sampling of products from Dr. Fosters & Smith. Many attendees received free t-shirts from many of the exhibitors as well as valuable product information.
Marine Depot had a line at their booth because of their “Prize Wheel” – spin the wheel for free products. Marineland on the other hand graciously donated a 150-gallon deep dimension reef ready tank, which was the main raffle prize. The winner of this lovely tank was Myles Whittaker who had never attended a reefing show before this one.
Many great manufactures displayed their products at this show and provide the abundant attendee a wealth of information. I always recommend attending these shows because it gives the consumer the opportunity to interact with the manufacture of their choice for additional information, which cannot be found on a web site or in a brochure.
For those looking for that incredible, magical, magnificent, awesome looking frag – eye candy – look no further as this was the event to find that special piece. There were many fraggers/ coral propagators selling many interesting yet unique corals. So many happy attendees walked away with many hard to find treasures. An example of this was Lou and Victor from World Wide Corals, they invested in many unique and unusual corals to ship back to their shop.
Earlier I mentioned that there were several large reef tanks on display. There’s a reason for these fully functional display tanks – RAP was holding a contest for the best looking Reef Display and the reward was $1,000.00. Capistrano Reef set-up a 210-gallon walk around peninsula display and clearly was the most impressive reef aquarium at the show. They were the recipient of this award and prize money.
Let me not forget the incredible time we had Saturday night at Scott and Kellie Steinberger’s home. This social gathering included great food, chance to observe Scott’s holding tanks, admire Scott’s new large system build and lots of stimulating conversations whether personal or reef related.
This two day event attracted 4,371 attendees making it the best attended Marine Aquarium show in the country, ever! Just for the record this number does not reflect club support staff for the event. Nor does it include exhibitors and their support staff – this is just the number of people that paid to attend this event. That is an incredible number of enthusiastic hobbyists gathering at one location.
Here is more incredible news, next year’s RAP is moving to a larger venue. Are you ready for this, 36,000 square foot venue! This will allow them to attract more manufactures, fraggers, display tanks, speakers and to provide you the attendee more excitement. Remember, you read it here first! Reef Builders never misses a Reefapalooza and we hope to see you there next year.