Meet Me in St. Louis



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The theme of our SUR/FIN® 2005 coverage—which also happens to be the title of my column this month—is derived from the 1944 MGM musical classic of the same name. Set against the backdrop of the 1904 World's Fair, "Meet Me In St. Louis" told the story of the Smith family, a well-to-do family faced with the dilemma of staying in their beloved St. Louis or moving to New York City, where the family patriarch had been offered a high-paying job. Though the movie is little more than a series of vignettes set to musical numbers, it is a delight to watch—even today, 60 years after it was first released.

Having just recently seen "Meet Me in St. Louis" again, I've found myself doing a lot of thinking about both the 1904 World's Fair and SUR/FIN 2005.

The World's Fair, which ran for seven months beginning in April 1904, occupied more than 1,200 acres of land in St. Louis (which was the fourth-largest city in the United States at the time) and played host to more than 12 million visitors from 60 countries. On display at the fair were works of art and sculpture, historical treasures— such as the Liberty Bell—and a bounty of technological innovations. The Fair also played host to the 1904 Olympic Games, the third Olympics of the modern era and the first to be held in the United States.

Obviously, it would be unfair to compare any industry trade show to the World's Fair in terms of scale or variety. But where I do see a similarity— aside from the obvious fact that both shows take place in St. Louis 101 years apart—is in the sense of enthusiasm for the show on the part of those attending and exhibiting.

There is definitely a sense of excitement about SUR/FIN 2005 that hasn't existed—or perhaps more accurately, existed on this level —in several years. Thanks to the combined efforts of AESF, NAMF and MFSA, the industry as a whole seems to be genuinely enthusiastic about the show, which takes place in just a little more than a month from now.

So what has people so excited about SUR/FIN this year? Perhaps it's the keynote speakers… Or maybe the locale… or possibly the wide variety of conference tracks… or the plant tour… or the AESF courses being offered… or the SFIC Party… or the New Product Showcase…I think you get the picture.

Regardless of why you're attending, AESF, MFSA and NAMF should be applauded on their efforts to rejuvenate SUR/FIN. Like the Smith Family, our own family of associations has proved that it's at its best when everyone is working together. I wish everyone a great show. If you're attending—or even thinking about it—be sure to check out our show coverage which begins on page 56. And if you hadn't planned on attending, maybe you should. There's still time to register.