ATLANTA — Nearly 30 years have passed since the Clean Show, formally known as the World Educational Congress for Laundering and Drycleaning, set its stage here at the Georgia World Congress Center in April 1987.
Clean 1987 was held in what is now the Congress Center’s A Building, which has a total exhibit space of 340,000 square feet, according to show organizer Riddle & Associates.
Sponsors for the 1987 show included the Coin Laundry Association; the Institute of Industrial Launderers (which became the Uniform & Textile Services Association after Clean 1993, then merging with Textile Rental Services Association after Clean 2009); International Fabricare Institute (now the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute); the National Association of Institutional Linen Management (now the Association for Linen Management), Textile Care Allied Trades Association and Textile Rental Services Association of America.
After more than two decades and numerous changes—both from within the textile care industry and the city of Atlanta itself—the Clean Show is making its return here April 16-19.
As part of its efforts in re-familiarizing the industry with the city, Riddle & Associates, in conjunction with the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (ACVB), hosted a two-day media familiarity tour here in early November.
This was my first time venturing into Atlanta. The tour itself not only provided a small sample of the Southern hospitality attendees can come to expect, but also a sneak peek of what’s in store for Clean 2015.
GEORGIA WORLD CONGRESS CENTER
Officially opened in 1976, the Georgia World Congress Center has undergone numerous expansion projects since it last hosted the Clean Show.
Today, the 3.9-million-square-foot convention center houses 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space, making it one of the “top five largest convention centers in the country,” according to the Georgia World Congress Center.
Clean 2015 will take up nearly half of the total exhibit space square footage, which will take place in halls B2 to B5 of building B, encompassing a total of 518,000 square feet, according to Riddle & Associates.
To accommodate many Clean Show exhibitors’ need of steam power, a new steam system had recently been installed at the center, which is now fully operational, explained John Riddle, president of Riddle & Associates.
The steam system covers approximately 125,000 square feet of exhibit space, according to the company.
Riddle and Brian Wallace, CLA president and CEO, and Clean 2015 chairman, expressed excitement over the upcoming show. More than 90% of space on the current exhibit floor plan is under contract, according to Riddle & Associates, and 364 exhibitors were listed on the Clean Show’s site at last check.
The overall space at the Congress Center can be overwhelmingly expansive, so be sure to prepare comfortable walking shoes.
Though there will be plenty of exhibitors to visit on the show floor, attendees can take a break and grab a meal just outside of the exhibit halls at one of the center’s various food courts, or simply relax in both the atrium-style indoor seating areas, or at the outside patio space.
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Those looking to venture outside the halls of the Georgia World Congress Center will have plenty to see and do.
Plenty of attractions are within walking distance, while some are only a short cab ride away.
Below are a few locales the ACVB treated guests to during the media familiarity trip:
Centennial Olympic Park
Just across the Congress Center is Centennial Olympic Park, built as part of the Centennial Olympic Games Atlanta hosted in 1996, and what the ACVB calls the “heart of [downtown Atlanta’s] tourist hub.”
Attendees can stroll the 21-acre park and have a sweeping view of the city’s skyline, as well as learn the history of the Centennial games, or cool off by the park’s interactive fountain, The Fountain of Rings.
The park also plays host to special events, like Park Market, which features products made by local farmers, bakers and artisans, and its free concert series, Wednesday WindDown, both running during the Clean Show’s stay in April.
Center for Civil and Human Rights
Located across from Centennial Olympic Park, and housed in a bright, modern, new building, the recently opened Center for Civil and Human Rights highlights the history of the American Civil Rights Movement, bridging it with contemporary human rights movements around the world.
Historic moments, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington, comes to life through archived photos, videos and artifacts, and through touch-screen informative displays.
The ACVB also took visitors on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Georgia Aquarium, known as “the world’s largest aquarium.”
Opened in 2005, the aquarium features a variety of aquatic animals housed in more than 10 million gallons of water.
In one of its exhibits, the Ocean Voyager, visitors walk through an acrylic tunnel, which provides a nearly 360-degree view of the aquarium’s 6.3-million-gallon tank. A separate floor-to-ceiling viewing window also provides an up-close look at manta rays, sharks and thousands of other fish.
College Football Hall of Fame
For sports fanatics, and also within walking distance of the Congress Center, is the College Football Hall of Fame, which opened in August.
Admittedly, I’m not a big college football fan. However, the museum has plenty of unique exhibits and interactive displays that provide fun for all.
Upon entering, visitors are given an “All-Access” pass equipped with an RFID chip which they will be able to digitally personalize by selecting their favorite college football team.
Guests will have a unique, customized tour as they navigate their way through the museum’s exhibits, which recount the overall history of college football, as well as present their favorite team’s historic game highlights and player bios.
Peachtree Trolley Tour
Those looking to explore beyond the confines of the Georgia World Congress Center can do so through a Peachtree Trolley tour.
Visitors can board the narrated tour at the Hilton Garden Inn on Baker Street, and see sights such as the Georgia Dome, the World of Coca-Cola museum, the State Capitol, the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the Atlanta Botanical Garden, among others.
Check back Tuesday for the conclusion!
Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Bruce Beggs at [email protected].