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Day One (and Only Day One) at LightFair

Day One (and Only Day One) at LightFair

By Scott Costa, Publisher, tED magazine

Due to a scheduling conflict, I am only at LightFair for one day this year. Technically, 5 hours. Then I am heading to the NAED National Meeting in Marco Island, Florida.

As the old saying goes, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Even though I could never, ever run a marathon in 5 hours, LightFair this year is a sprint. Admittedly, this is not an all-encompassing view of this year’s trade show, but you will at least have an idea of what happened on Day One.

New York Traffic


If you were wondering if New York is back after the pandemic, look no further than 5th Avenue and 40th Street. It’s a little more than a mile from the Javits Center, and it took me about 20 minutes to walk. If I took an Uber or a cab, it would have taken 30 minutes.

One attendee told me he had a 3-hour commute to LightFair on Tuesday, and he lives just outside the city. It took me less time to get there and I had to fly in from St. Louis.

Remember, LightFair is committed to holding the show every two years in New York. It’s a great city, the restaurants are perfect, the big city vibe is electric, and the commute from the airport, hotel, or your home is a disaster. One New York lighting manufacturer said they all reserved hotels near the Javits Center because the 20 mile drive home would take too long.

Arrive Early

I knew this, and I blew it anyway. The trade show doors open at 10 am. It felt like 90% of the attendees also arrived at 10am. As a result, I was trapped in a monstrous line to get my badge and enter the event. Walking around to the other entrance only led to an even more monstrous line. Rule of thumb: arrive early on opening day. Again, I knew this, so this one is on me.

Keystone Booth at LightFair

Go Big Or Go Home

The big booths had a lot of traffic. Ledvance, SATCO, Keystone Technologies, and Creston all had plenty of attendees walking through their large booths. The smaller booths were well-staffed, but traffic mainly flowed past without a lot of stopping to check out products or have lengthy conversations. Since smaller booths outnumber the big booths by a 10-to-1 ratio, it will be interesting to see what LightFair does to encourage attendees to spend more time talking to smaller manufacturers.

SATCO Booth at LightFair

Come For The Trade Show, Stay For The Education

I walked by a few of the featured sessions to get a look at what was happening, and they all looked very well attended. And, the speakers were engaging, willing to answer questions, and people stayed from beginning to end. Looks like the LightFair organizers picked the correct topics to talk about this year.

Any Electrical Distributors Here?

I saw a few, but not nearly as many as years past. Lots of designers. Plenty of specifiers. Some lighting distributors. But not a lot of NAED members with lighting teams walking the show floor in large groups like in years past. This isn’t a problem, but an opportunity for the next show in two years. If you really want some individual time with some of the major lighting manufacturers, pencil in the next LightFair as an opportunity and not an expense.

Overall, the Javits Center is huge, and there were hundreds of booths and exhibitors, which is always great to see as we come out of the pandemic. I got lost a couple of times because there are so many exhibitors, and you can easily get turned around and not remember which way to go next. But if that’s LightFair’s biggest problem, LightFair is going to be really healthy for a long time. It’s always great to see so many manufacturers willing to be exhibitors and get inside knowledge on such a wide variety of products.

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