The SNA Trade Show was a regional trade show that began with only 19 booths and peaked in its prime with 1,500+ booths with nearly 10 acres of floor space. The show has a long history and originally rotated around the southeast but made a permanent home in Atlanta, GA in 1967.
SNA TRADE SHOW
The Southern Nursery Association held an annual Convention beginning in 1916. It was not until 1937 that the concept of exhibits was mentioned and in 1956 the first SNA Research Conference was held – 64 total from 1956-2020. Much historical data still exists today and while many photos have been stored many others have not yet been converted electronically, but we hope to do so in months to come. Photos below are from the 2003 SNA Trade Show at the Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta, GA. This show set a record attendance of 11,995 and 1,685 booths.
SNA 2003 set a record attendance of 11,995 and 1,685 booths.
Delegates from the IPM show in Essen, Germany were present for SNA 2003.
The World Stage was introduced in 2003 with on-the-floor education throughout the show.
The first SNA commercial exhibit was at the 1937 convention in Nashville. Rudolph Hach Tobacco Company of Clarksville, TN wrote Porter Henegar, who was on the convention committee, requesting space to set up an exhibit of Hormodin A. and German peat moss. President Richard H. Jones personally wrote the president of this old firm arranging for the display. This modest beginning was to set a new trend, but a trend that developed slowly.
In 1951, at the Richmond, VA meeting when Mr. Elwood Stephens was president of SNA there were 19 commercial and five educational exhibits. There is no record of the number of exhibits at either the 1952 or 1953 meetings but by 1954, during the presidency of Mr. Arthur Watson, the convention voted to establish a “Winter Trade Meet.”
This first trade meet was held in Jacksonville, FL, on January 23-251955. Featured were container-grown plants on which a panel discussion was held. There were 24 exhibits listed. The second winter trade meet was held January 29-31, 1956, in the Exhibition Hall, Atlanta, Georgia. Wares were shown by 23 exhibitors. But the last of the winter trade meets was held February 3-5, 1957 at the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel as the association decided to combine the summer convention and the winter trade meet and promote a single meeting of greater scope and value.
By 1959, there were 40 exhibits, and in 1963, it is noted that there were 55 exhibits. In 1965, 105 exhibits were sold and a list of exhibitors was compiled and published in the trade magazines.
This combination convention and trade meeting set the stage for an even more successful event. In 1966 in New Orleans, a new record was set with 800 registrants and 178 exhibits. In 1967, Atlanta, GA was chosen as the permanent home for the SNA Trade Show and the Atlanta Marriott Hotel was the location for the convention and trade show. This decision catapulted the SNA Trade Show's growth.
By 1974, total attendance had reached over 3,400 with 285 booths. In 1975, the convention and trade show was moved to the Atlanta Civic Center due to the growth and there were 318 booths. But by 1982, there were 685 booths and the show was moved to the new Georgia World Congress Center. By 1985, total attendance was 7,620 with 774 booths.
In 1987, there were 822 booths. In 1988, 979 booths and in 1989, 1,204 booths. By 1999, at the publication of the SNA History Book, total attendance was over 10,000 with 1,329 booths, and 2002, there were 1,371 booths. The SNA Trade Show went on to see even more growth with 11,995 attendance and 1,685 booths in 2003.
By 2006, the show was seeing some decline with 10,210 attendance and 1,121 booths. In the fall of 2006, the SNA management team of 18 years (Danny and Karen Summers) resigned and the SNA board decided to change the name of the trade show for 2007 to the SNA Forum. There were 6,161 attendees and 939 booths at the 2007 show.
In 2008, the board decided to change the name once again to the 2008 Southern Nursery Association Gardening and Outdoor Living Expo and open the show to consumers on the last day. That concept was short-lived due to a lack of exhibitor buy-in so the show's name remained the same for 2008. There were 534 booths in 2008.
In 2009, the board approved changing the name of the event to the SNA Horticultural Summit and holding two smaller shows – one in October 2009 and one in January 2010. In addition, it was decided that there would be a change in the venue from the Georgia World Congress Center to the Cobb Galleria.
The 2009 show was the last SNA Trade Show. In 2012, Karen Summers (previously on the SNA staff for 18 years) stepped in as Executive President and began working with the SNA board in an attempt to revive the association and pay off the outstanding debt of $163,067.42.
In 2013, a small trade show was held at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta, GA.
The last official SNA Trade Show was held in Athens, GA.
A newly formatted SNA Conference was held in 2018 preceding the kick-off of the MANTS show in Baltimore, MD. The conference combined The Southern Plant Conference and the SNA Research Conference along with keynote sessions and roundtable discussions. There were 132 participants.