Blizzard of 2005 Wallops JA Show

The blizzard of 2005 delivered a “big hit” to the JA New York Winter Show (Jan. 23-25), causing a 30 percent drop in attendance, show director Drew Lawsky told JCK.

The storm blanketed New York City and much of the Northeast from late Jan. 22 into the morning of Jan. 23. Flights and trains headed to the Big Apple were canceled or delayed, traffic on regional roads slowed, and a state of emergency was declared in several areas.

“I think I aged 10 years in a few days,” said Lawsky. “When I walked into the Javits Convention Center [the site of the show] early Sunday morning I thought that if 15 people showed up it would be a lot.”

More than that finally showed up, but still far fewer than normal for the three-day show’s opening day. Only 838 people came, well below the usual first-day crowd of 5,700. In addition, 45 of more than 900 companies participating in the show weren’t able to come, said Lawsky. “It was frustrating and heartbreaking, but everyone—JA show people and exhibitors—pulled together.”

Attendance picked up on Monday, and all but five of the missing exhibitors made it in. Those missing included two companies from Hong Kong and one from Germany, who were victims of flight delays and cancellations.

“I was pleasantly surprised how much activity we had and how quickly it picked up,” said Lawsky. “We had had a solid Monday and Tuesday.” The show ended on Tuesday with a total attendance of more than 5,800 people (compared with the usual 8,500-plus figure).