by Bonnie Kenaz-Mara
Expos always remind me of my early days as a writer, with a fresh college degree and a less than glamorous day job that paid the bills. Like so many well-educated kids in this economy, I graduated with honors, only to find myself too overqualified for food service, not bilingual enough for retail, and utterly lacking enough experience to work in PR or marketing.
So, I took an “acting job” of sorts, acting like I liked signing people up for sweepstakes and credit cards at all of Chicago’s festivals and trade shows, and all the home Bulls, Cubs and Blackhawks games. I was a Saab girl at the Chicago Auto Show, worked the boat show, and fell for a guy with a motorcycle. Somewhere along the way I actually started to have fun with it. Since then I’ve taken an amazing cross-country adventure in an RV, been on plenty of boats, and had quite a few friends and relatives with motorcycles.
The expos, trade shows, and all the Chicago fests were pretty entertaining. I learned more about human nature and psychology than I had in all my years in school, learned a huge amount about Chi Town events, and made some new friends. Then I realized how much my feet hurt from standing behind a booth every weekend, finally got a better job offer, and moved on. But I never forgot.
So, if you do go to the expos, be kind to the booth workers. One may just be an under employed, future neurosurgeon, who will hold your future in her hands one day. Or you may end up in print and live on in infamy online.
Chicago may still be in the clutches of winter, but just like those heavy coats that pop up in stores during the August heat, outdoor themed trade shows signal that it’s not too early to shop for next season. Spring is on the way. Despite our urban skyscraper and asphalt environs, we are luck to have one of the most spectacular lakes in the world. Visit the Chicago Boat Show and Strictly Sail to find out how you can make the most of it.
It’s possible to get some great deals right now. Spring would be extra sweet saving gas money on a new bike or playing hooky from work behind the wheel of your new boat! Check out the expos if you’re considering a purchase, or go walk around anyway, just for fun and to keep out of the cold. The dreams are free.
January 12th – 16th
Thursday: 2 p.m.-9 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Monday: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Martin Luther King Day)
Admission: $10 adults, $8 seniors 65+,
Highlights include, the new Rail Jam, Dock Dog competitions, the Ultimate Camp Cooking Show and Antique & Classic Boats display.
January 26th – 29th
Thursday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Admission: $12 Adults (weekday) $15 Adults (weekend) Any Two Days: $24.00 (available online only), kids 15 and under are free
The show is celebrating its 17th year at Navy Pier with fabulous prizes, seminars, kids’ club area and more. This is the largest, all sail, indoor, boat show in the nation.
February 10th -12th
Friday: 3 p.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 p.m.-9 p.m.
Admissions: Ranges from $13-$30 for 1 to 3 day adult passes and $6-$10 for kids 1 to 3 day passes ages 6-11. 5 and under are free.
Check out the world’s largest motorcycle expo including Smage Bros stunt show, Ultimate Builder custom bike show and swag wagon. Free gear check and bike parking available if you ride to the show.