LAS VEGAS — Commercial bakers and their suppliers are eager to return to tradeshows after 17 months of COVID-related lockdowns. But the highly contagious Delta variant has dashed the industry’s dreams for a return to normal, at least for now.

With a wave of fall tradeshows fast approaching, surging cases and hospitalizations are leading to more restrictions on in-person gatherings. These restrictions can vary state-by-state — sometimes even city-by-city — and cause confusion for industry professionals looking to shake hands and hug colleagues again on tradeshow floors.

Read on as we break down the COVID protocols for the top upcoming tradeshows.


Las Vegas is the hub for many of these events. The city hosted the Artisan Bakery Expo and International Pizza Expo concurrently on Aug. 17-19, and will host PMMI’s PACK EXPO on Sept. 27-29. While the events this week were in-person, they were subject to the latest Nevada statewide order: As of July 30, everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, must wear a mask in public indoor settings. As of now, PACK EXPO is also requiring masks in compliance with the state mandate.

Increased cleaning and security measures were also implemented at the Artisan Bakery Expo and Pizza Expo, and will be carried out at PACK EXPO as well.

On its “PACK Ready” health and safety program page, PMMI has detailed its COVID protocols, including “hand washing facilities and/or sanitizing systems easily accessible to everyone, frequent cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas, and increased air filter quality rating and increased replacement rate of air filters.”


On the east coast, SNAXPO 2021 is being held Aug. 22-24 at the Charlotte Convention Center in North Carolina, which “has invested in many upgrades to protect the health and safety of its guests since March 2020.”

“For me, SNAXPO means the great pleasure of seeing old friends and making new ones,” said Martin Prakken, CEO and owner of Blueprint Automation. “It is a place where trust and long-term commitment are still highly valued when doing business.”

In order to bring the industry together safely, SNAXPO is implementing a range of safety measures, including the following and more.

  • In accordance with the latest CDC recommendations, SNAXPO is requiring masking indoors regardless of vaccination status except when social distancing or eating and drinking. You will not be permitted to enter the convention center or Westin receptions without a mask. Masks will be provided to everyone in attendance.
  • All attendees will be required to complete a daily health assessment prior to entering the convention center.
  • All education sessions will feature socially distanced seating.

With fewer attendees, there are fewer safety risks. This has led to a rise in hybrid-format events, such as the American Bakers Association (ABA)’s upcoming NextGenBaker leadership forum, which is being held virtually and in-person in Alexandria, VA, on Sept. 14-16. The virtual component allows industry professionals nationwide to tap into the critical information being covered while mitigating risk for in-person attendees.

According to Samantha Moore, ABA’s senior director of meetings and education, her team is working hard to organize a safe event that keeps its people at the forefront. This not only applies to NextGenBaker, but also to IBIEducate 2021, a new educational event from IBIE, ABA, BEMA and RBA, being held Oct. 26-28 in Kansas City, MO.

“The health and safety of every attendee and staff person at IBIE and ABA events is our number one priority, even before the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moore said. “IBIEducate 2021 and ABA events teams have received Pandemic On-Site Protocol Certification, in addition to certifications I hold from the FEMA Emergency Planning Institute and the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. IBIEducate 2021, and ABA will follow any mandated regulations from all entities during our event dates and inform attendees of those measures closer to the event’s start.”


In America’s heartland, organizers behind Process Expo pushed the event from Oct. 12-15 to Nov. 2-5 and moved its location within Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center, from the Lakeside Center to its high-ceilinged South Hall.

Kristy Meade is the group show director for Messe Frankfurt, the show management firm behind Process Expo. She said these changes will ensure more thorough safety measures.

“Listening to our customers and remaining diligent in following safety protocols solidified the decision in ensuring the future success of the show and service to the food and beverage processing and packaging community,” Meade said. “We are confident that this move will provide a more engaging atmosphere for attendees and exhibitors.”

The Middleby Bakery Expo remains scheduled for Oct. 19-21 in Dallas, TX, but the event coordinators are keeping a close eye on state and local regulations.

“Middleby is monitoring the landscape in the Dallas area,” said Teresa Ruder, group marketing manager for Middleby Bakery. “We plan to follow guidance from health officials to keep our exhibitors and guests safe.”

As the industry gathers again, it plans to pick up right where it left off:  sharing innovative ideas, growing relationships and building new ones.

See more upcoming events on Commercial Baking’s industry calendar.