Join us Saturday, August 3 for a cake and champagne toast to celebrate the EXPO’s 60th Anniversary with special guest National Restaurant Association Chairman Phil Hickey. The festivities begin at 10:45 a.m. at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in the lobby of Hall I. We’ll recognize our sponsors, raise a glass to our industry’s talent, cut the ribbon and open the show.
For a stroll down memory lane, we sat down with Sandy Riddle who has been producing the EXPO for a whopping 30 years!
“The EXPO has certainly evolved over the years,” recalls Riddle, EVP of the EXPO. “We used to actually have two shows, one in New Orleans and one in Shreveport, but in the 1980’s they were merged and from then on it’s been in New Orleans.”
Prior to being at the Convention Center, the show was at the River Gate, where Harrah’s Casino now sits. Following the opening of the Convention Center after the 1984 World’s Fair, the EXPO moved into Hall A which in comparison to today’s space was tiny.
“In 1985, we had between 80-100 exhibiting companies and about 2,000 attendees,” she shared. “We outgrew that space in just a few years, primarily because we needed more dock space, especially with the number of refrigerated trucks required to service the EXPO.”
Each year, the EXPO theme changes and the visual elements updated, which affords exhibitors some creative license with their displays. The themes have ranged from License to Serve, Putting on the Ritz, Feast at the Table, the Art of Hospitality and so many others.
“Each fall, we all start brainstorming to come up with a new, exciting theme. A Toast to Talent was just perfect to commemorate 60 years of the EXPO,” said Riddle. “With the talent that exists in Louisiana’s culinary community, I look forward to celebrating with our exhibitors and attendees.”