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Fancy Food Show Cancelled: What’s Next for Industry Gatherings?

The floor at the 2016 Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, Calif.
Photo: Winter Fancy Food Show 2016

With Delta variant cases rising and the pace of vaccination having slowed, the US is experiencing an era of the ongoing pandemic that feels a bit like limbo. The long-awaited freedom we experienced at the beginning of the summer, when COVID cases were at a record low, seems to have slipped through our fingers. States are bringing back mask mandates, certain restrictions are being reinstated, and large events are no longer—like the Specialty Food Association’s in-person Fancy Food Show, which has recently been cancelled. Understandably, some folks are feeling defeated.

Michele Adams, store manager at Olsson’s Fine Foods in Princeton, New Jersey, was eager to be back at the Fancy Food Show after a five-year hiatus. “We were excited to be there,” she says. “We had the best year we’ve ever had and were looking forward to increasing business by finding new products to bring in and meeting suppliers.” Adams also expressed concern for the cheesemakers and other specialty food producers who were counting on picking up new business at the show. “When the auto show was cancelled I had a bad feeling that the Fancy Food Show would be next—it’s sad.”

Agela Abdullah, marketing director at Caputo’s Market, says her team already planned on skipping the show due to COVID risks and other reasons, but seeing the news still felt like a profound disappointment. “My immediate thought was ‘Oh no. What other shows are going to go?’” she says. “We still have three more shows this year. Are any of them going to happen?” 

Abdullah also expresses a personal feeling of anger, hearing about cancellations like this after spending over a year in isolation. “I’ve done everything right. I’ve spent every holiday by myself, I haven’t gone anywhere, I haven’t done anything. So even though it’s not personal, it feels personal,” she says. “It’s demoralizing to feel like it’s all happening again.” 

But even in this state of uncertainty, other in-person events such as the Cheesemonger Invitational are still set to take place—with strict restrictions in place, like temperature checks, 30 percent occupancy, and proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test required to attend. “We feel our event has much less exposure than large trade shows and will be an invaluable, inspiring experience for those in attendance,” says host Adam Moskowitz. “Based on the success of CMI Chicago, we believe a smaller event focused on industry will still afford us success.” Moskowitz also mentioned that they are monitoring NYC mandates closely, and will respond accordingly if anything changes in the coming weeks.

Those who are disappointed about the FFS cancellation still have Fancy Food 24/7—the digital component of the show—to look forward to, which runs from September 27 through October 8 online. Anyone who registered for the in-person event is already pre-registered for Fancy Food 24/7. Learn more here.

Monica Petrucci

Monica is Culture's Social Media Editor. Coming from a formaggio-obsessed Italian family, she was very excited to combine her passions for cheese and writing at Culture. She loves experimenting in the kitchen and pairing wine and cheese in her spare time.

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