Two Expos, 24 months apart… > Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA)
March 03, 2022

Two Expos, 24 months apart…

Leaving New Orleans at the close of HPBExpo was surreal in March of 2020. The New Orleans Health Department had announced the first confirmed case of COVID 19 in the city that week, exhibitors and attendees were getting antsy, and the staff just wanted to go home. Our leadership told us to be prepared to work from home for “two weeks or so, until the pandemic eases.” Little did we know…

While the streets of New Orleans were still packed with the typical tourists and party-goers, we wiped down our hotel rooms and ordered take out.

We witnessed managers of the New Orleans Convention Center laying off staff on that Saturday. HPBExpo was the last event. Everything scheduled for the foreseeable future was canceled. We boarded half empty flights, made it home, and settled in for what has turned out to be the next two years.

It’s amazing to think about how much we all have been through since March of 2020, and the close of that HPBExpo.

Two years later, we’ve arrived in Atlanta. We’re all very weary of restrictions and masks and mandates, but HPBExpo 2022 arrived at an opportune time. Not only is spring in the air in Atlanta, but Omicron is receding and vaccines have made this all manageable. We are ready to get together.

Like all cities, downtown Atlanta is a changed landscape. The streets are eerily quiet during the day, nothing like the bustle we saw in New Orleans a couple of years ago. But it is starting to fill as our attendees arrive. The excitement is building as we are seeing friends and colleagues in person, who we’ve only seen on Zoom for the past two years.

People were cautious about this Expo. It’s only in the past couple of weeks that registration is taking off and we are now at higher levels than in New Orleans. The whole atmosphere is different. It’s filled with hope and excitement as we gather.

Our world and our work environment have changed forever. We will continue to have virtual meetings and work from home sometimes. But this week in Atlanta proves that we still need to come together and celebrate our industry.

Posted in: Blog, General HPBA
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