Get Ready! Mark your calendars for the 30th Hard Hat Expo in Syracuse, NY, April 6-7, 2016.

Cover-Option-11by Jon M. Casey

For construction contractors and industry professionals throughout New York and New England, the first sign of spring is the time to mark your calendars for the 30th New York Hard Hat Expo April 6-7 at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY. With more than 120 exhibitors expected to fill the Center of Progress Building and surrounding outdoor spaces, this year’s event is designed with the construction contractor in mind. Show hours for the two-day event run Wednesday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Parking is free.

The history of the New York Hard Hat Expo dates back to a time when there were a number of similar events hosted throughout the northeast every year. Over time, these other events eventually discontinued their activities while the Hard Hat Expo continued to grow. Today, it has become one of the largest, heavy equipment shows in the east.

The Hard Hat Expo, produced by the Trade Show Division of Lee Newspapers, Inc., publishers of Hard Hat News, began as a much smaller show but has grown over the years. According to one company official, the first shows displayed no more than 50 or so exhibitors. As the word got out as to the availability of quality contact between exhibitors and contractors interested in finding new and better ways to shop for equipment and services, the Hard Hat Expo grew. As the need arose, additional building venues and outdoor exhibits were added to accommodate the growth. Through the years, the numbers of exhibitors increased, hitting around 200 at the peak of the construction cycle in the mid-2000s.

Since then, the show has weathered a couple of recessions and it continues to attract vendors from across the U.S. In some cases, national companies exhibit at the Hard Hat Expo as a way to acquire new dealers and customers alike. Often, companies introduce new products at the show as well.

Organizers say the show dates have remained pretty much the same since its inception. Generally, the target dates for the show have been between mid-March to mid-April depending on show site availability. More recently, organizers have locked in the show dates for the first week of April. This regular timeframe helps exhibitors and attendees to schedule their calendars for the big event.

Regularly, the show will draw between 4,000 to 8,000 attendees depending on the weather. Many of them often are in the position to make buying decisions for their companies or municipalities. “Sold” signs will often appear on equipment displayed at the Expo.

With the potential for snowfall during this time of the year, the chances for wintery weather help to make the Championship Skid Steer Rodeo an attendee favorite. This year, the Skid Steer Rodeo, Sponsored by Silver Sponsor, McCarthy Tire Service and Hard Hat News, will be held on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Trophies and prizes will be awarded at 2 p.m. at the Hard Hat Exhibit A-32.

The popular rodeo event began between eight and 10 years after the Hard Hat Expo began. In the early days, this event was held as a backhoe rodeo. Within a couple of years, the skid steer rodeo was added as a second event, which took place on the second day of the show. Because of its popularity, the skid steer rodeo became the feature event with the backhoe rodeo eventually discontinued. The quick action and precision operation of the skid steers, makes this event more popular with operators and spectators alike. Adverse weather conditions, when present, add to the excitement.

The New York State Fairgrounds is easily accessible from I-690 and is located at 581 State Fair Boulevard, Syracuse, NY 13209. For more information contact the Lee Publications Show Manager, Ken Maring at 800-218-5586 or visit the show website at www.hardhatexpo.com .

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