A couple of years ago we went to the Retail Bakers of America conference held in Atlantic City, NJ.
A few snapshots of stuff we saw there: the boardwalk, a demo given by Ron Ben-Israel and Buddy Valastro, and of course a visit to see Lucy the Elephant.
Here is a life size model to give you an idea of the scale of Lucy with her perfectly pedicured toes.
Conferences remind me a bit like going to the circus. There are all of the booths in the convention center set up like a side show touting the latest and greatest must have gadget, ingredient, tool, etc. "Buy two of x and we'll thrown in y." "This will save you so much labor and reduce your product loss." The pitches are fast and furious at the opening of the conference but by day 3 or 4, the vendors have a glazed over look in their eyes and are maybe just a little tired of giving the same pitch 60+ times a day.
Some of the claims are true, many don't apply to a small bakery but they are still fun to look at and imagine the possibilities.
The center ring show for the conference consists of all of the seminars and demos about running a business, how to manage employees, and how to market the business. Most are actually pretty interesting and informative, a few remind one of the Economics lectures in college during which half of the students slept. Once in awhile, they will also have hands on classes with a well known pastry chef-we attended one and got to make a 3D sculpted cake of the MGM Lion's head. That was soooooo much fun.
The baking version of acrobatics would have to be the Baking competitions; breads, sugar work, and chocolate work are the main ones to see. There are others going on too well as cake decorating competitions-these are interesting but not something I would do probably, I don't like the feeling of being rushed or having back seat decorators watching. Kind of remind me of taking tests in school, paper is put in front of you and your mind instantly goes blank. wheeee.
Then it's time for the conference to end, tents are folded up, equipment is packed away for the next conference, people say goodbye to each other, maybe there's a last flurry of sales as someone speeds back to get that one little spatula that would be just perfect for scraping that one bowl...floors are vacuumed, tables stowed and the lights are turned off. The convention center becomes quiet...until the next group's conference circus starts to set up for their big show.