Monday, May 20, 2024

Published on Friday, February 12, 2021

Has It Really Been a Year?

A year ago today, I was making final west coast travel plans to supervise set up of a client’s properties during the first week of March.


COVID-19Two weeks later, I was informed the event cancelled due to concerns about spreading the newly discovered COVID virus. In addition to the exhibit floor, the focus of this annual show was education for public health department officials attending from all over the country.


Not too long after that, trade shows and other face-to-face marketing events started falling like oak leaves in the Fall. By the end of March, our warehouse was full to the brim with properties that either had returned early or prepped properties sitting idle with unused shipping labels attached.


This one-year anniversary is not one I really wish to commemorate. The traditional first anniversary gift for a marriage is paper. For my anniversary with COVID-19, I am writing its name on a piece of paper, folding it into an airplane and releasing it into a big recycling bin.


Natl Restaurant ShowAll this being said, I hope that the vaccine continues to roll out successfully, there is a decrease in the spread, smaller meetings and events eventually start to come back by summer and we can start experiencing what the “new normal” will be. As of this writing, the National Restaurant Show, is scheduled to open at McCormick Place in Chicago on May 22. Fingers crossed. Also, Illinois just began allowing gatherings of up to 50 people in large spaces, like hotel ballrooms and meeting rooms. All steps in the right direction.


N95 MasksIn an effort to make the holiday as normal as possible this year, Shelley and I did venture to Denver to spend a socially distant Christmas with our kids. Airports were quiet, planes half full, N95 masks in full use. I know that travel like this is still considered risky, but we were all healthy, had limited our exposure to others for quite some time and don’t have underlying conditions that would put us as further risk. We felt it safe to do if we continued with the recommended precautions.


Moskals In ColoradoWe stayed in a hotel that had over 250 rooms and were two of about ten guests for our five day stay. The weather in Denver was sunny and in the 60s for most of the time, so we could enjoy outdoor patio seating, bring carry-out food back to the hotel or even have an impromptu picnic. There was a day trip to Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park on Christmas Day. Other than wearing masks and socially distancing, there was a brief feeling of normalcy that was definitely needed, even if Christmas dinner consisted of sub sandwiches from Safeway.


Some sense of normal is what we really all crave at this time. At least that’s what I am hoping to find.


As my daughter awaits her next assignment with the National Parks, my son is starting to experience a slow opening of the hospitality industry and at Prairie, we are keeping busy with some smaller projects, maintenance and preparing for when it all starts to come back.


Chicago temperaturesIn the last few weeks, we have been having conversations with clients about what they need to do to get their programs up and running once we do see an opening, and business travel will be allowed and encouraged. Some are starting to plan private events with targeted invitees attending with specific appointment times. From what we have heard, the option of a virtual trade show simply is not cutting it for many. It may stick around as an added element of a show or meeting but it’s definitely not a viable replacement right now. The vibe is that we all want things to be somewhat normal, but it will take some more time.


The gift for a second anniversary is cotton. Harder to make an airplane out of cotton but I can always grab an old t-shirt out of the rag pile and mop up the floor with it. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point.


Stay safe and warm (it is after all, winter in Chicago), wear a mask, wash your hands and get in line for your vaccine.



Steve Moskal


Steve Moskal in Colorado

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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

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Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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