“What is Reef Stock and where is it held?” some may ask. Reef Stock is hosted in Denver, Colorado, surrounded by majestic mountains and some of the best skiing in the country. It’s an event that was created by the local Denver reefing community back in 2008 to stimulate interest, ignite conversation, and gather those interested into in the hobby in one location. The first Reef Stock was held in a 3,000-sq.-ft. conference center at the Curtis Hotel, a hotel with lots of charm and personality. The Curtis hotel met the needs of this small event early on, which attracted over 200 attendees.
Let’s fast forward to 2012, and our readers will understand better how well the show did this year if they knew how well it did last year. Let’s start with its location last year, where it was held at the Denver Downtown Aquarium. The Aquarium was a small venue, which reached its max capacity of 700 attendees. The doors opened promptly at 10 am and closed at 6 pm. Let me not forget to mention that this event was held for one day only, so a lot was accomplished in just one day! The venue was filled with several industry leading vendors displaying their products and many other companies selling live goods. Three speakers were on the schedule for that event: Colin Foord, Ret Talbot and Tony Vargas.
Reef Stock 2012 was my first visit to this event as a speaker and a spectator, and I would have to say I was pretty impressed with the event. Arriving at Denver Airport a little after 11 am I was picked up by Ryan Gripp at around 11:30 am and arrived at the venue around 12 pm. When I arrived I could barely believe my eyes! At the entrance there was a line of people anxiously waiting to enter the venue. My quick reaction was to retrieve my camera to take a photo of the people still waiting in line and post it to Facebook. This was clearly something that needed to be rectified for 2013.
Understanding the limitations of the Denver Downtown Aquarium, the organizers decided that the sixth annual event would require a larger venue. One that would accommodate larger crowds, additional vendors, and the biggest decision of them all – a venue that can support a two-day event!
The organizers found the perfect venue – Red & Jerry’s Event Center in Sheridan – a venue that met all their needs and more for the next few years. Red & Jerry’s 9,000-sq.-ft. ballroom could easily accommodate more than 50 booths and well over 2,000 attendees. Red & Jerry’s Event Center has two built-in bars, plus state of the art audio and video systems – making these amenities an instant success with Reef Stock’s attendees.
Reef Stock 2013 was held the weekend of Saturday, March 2 and Sunday, March 3. Now that Reef Stock has become a two day event, they added an additional speaker to their schedule. A large theater served as a speaker room with many theater style seats and near the entrance a few nice sized round tables for a more relaxed atmosphere.
Two speakers gave a presentation on Saturday and two on Sunday. Chris Turnier from Sustainable Aquatics was the first speaker on Saturday and I would have to say even though I had seen this presentation before it was really impressive seeing it again. His time line and awesome photographs were mind blowing, I would watch it again! Clive Bentley the LED guru was the next speaker and boy did he explain LED to the attendees in an understandable fashion, cool talk! On Sunday John Coppolino did a great presentation on his aquariums and his maintenance practices. Next speaker was professional aquarist Rob Brynda who works at the Downtown Aquarium Denver. Rob’s excellent presentation focused on the husbandry and maintenance techniques for large coral reef exhibits.
As for vendors, WOW!, many major manufactures displaying their products and providing vital information to interested attendees. I wish I could talk about every product manufacture, and I will give it a try. Cobalt had an impressive lineup of new and innovative products, such as heaters with three year warranties, canister filters that can be cleaned without turning them off, and DC powered powerheads. CAD Lights Aquariums displayed an amazing line of skimmers. The gang from EcoTech Marine was there with an awesome Nano system displaying their products and how well the corals responded to their equipment’s performance.
My Reef Creation showed up with an arsenal of bullet proof equipment. From their mighty protein skimmers, to innovative sumps this company continues to think outside the box to provide us with quality yet indestructible equipment.
World-renowned LED cannon manufacturer Ecoxotic was there displaying some real hot products. At the other side of the event floor Kessil was displaying their new A360W and A360N, which offers new and improved features. Nanobox offered some nice LED lights designed specifically for those with nano system.
Hands down Neptune APEX had the largest display and received a lot of attention from the attendees. They displayed most of their product line, elaborated on their unique features and discussed in detail the advantages of their add-ons. APEX is one popular controller!
Piscine and Reef Nutrition were there educating everyone about their great products and how important they are to the health of your captive friends.
OK, OK what about fraggers? So many unique corals, the temptation to spend money was at every turn. What a site, it seem like every national frag seller had congregated under one roof. I got a chance to see some of the hottest livestock from: World Wide Corals, Jason Fox, Cherry Corals, Frag Junky, Unique Corals and some of the local fraggers The Coral Shop, Gonzo’s Coral Frags, Coral Junky, Mind Blowing Corals, and Reefkoi. If you left the event with money in your pocket you did not look hard enough!
A first for this event was having the committee from MACNA on the floor helping vendors register for some of the remaining booths and providing registration information.
The raffle was a site to see, so many attendees waiting for their number to be called. The grand prize was a rimless cube complete with light and stand.
This was by all accounts a very successful event held to the standard of a MACNA conference – held in a fantastic venue. Many of the Reef Builders staff was present to record this historic event. A mini-MACNA through and through!