1. The Chicago Auto Show
Held at McCormick Place, the country’s largest and longest-running auto show fills 1.3 million square feet of exhibit space. In February, the show comprised a two-day media preview, a charity event that raked in $1.7 million for various organizations, and a 10-day public show that drew one million attendees.
2. National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show
Set to return to McCormick Place May 22 to 25, this 90-year-old show is the world’s largest gathering of restaurant and hospitality professionals. On average, it draws 2,000 exhibitors and 70,000 international guests.
3. Radiological Society of North America Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting
With 59,000 attendees, this is the world’s largest international medical meeting. In 2008, Tradeshow Week gave the gathering a “Gold 100” award for its impact on the local economy—registrants spend about $124 million. The 2010 show will return to McCormick Place November 28 to December 3.
4. International Home and Housewares Show
The International Housewares Association hosts this show, which displays consumer-lifestyle goods ranging from spice racks to pet supplies. The event draws 2,000 international exhibitors and 60,000 buyers, and generates about $70 million in spending. The 2010 show took over McCormick Place March 14 to 16.
5. America’s Beauty Show
Around 400 exhibitors bring their products to this gathering of salon-industry professionals. In 2010, the event returned to McCormick Place March 27 to 29 and drew around 60,000 attendees.
6. The Chicago Boat, RV & Outdoors Show
New offerings at this year’s January show included an interactive pirate exhibition and a DockDogs competition, which lets canines participate in an indoor swimming race. The Midwest’s largest event of its kind, the 80-year-old show drew around 55,000 attendees to McCormick Place.
7. Graph Expo
The Americas’ largest exhibition and conference for the graphic communications industry drew 29,000 attendees in 2009. This year’s show will hit McCormick Place October 3 to 6. With 550 exhibitors and 60 educational seminars, the 2010 expo will include a new 10,000-square-foot pavilion devoted to newspaper publishing.
8. Sweets & Snacks Expo
More than 450 exhibitors bring their products to North America’s largest trade show for confectionery, cookies, and snacks. Attendance has grown at a steady 1 to 3 percent each year; last year’s event drew 13,000 buyers.