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Top 10 Chicago Trade Shows of 2014

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Chicago is one of the biggest Trade Show and Event venues in the nation. McCormick Place is the largest show site and it’s always booming with activity, hosting 8 of the top 10 shows in Chicago.

We have narrowed down the top 10 Chicago trade shows in 2014 that will showcase the best innovations and ideas in their respective industries. The rankings are based on overall offerings and opportunities at the show, attendance and exhibitor numbers, and show growth.

IMTS2014The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). Taking place every even-numbered year, it is the largest manufacturing and industrial show in the Americas, occupying 1,240,863 net square feet of exhibit space. This show attracts over 100,000 attendees and exhibitors from 119 countries. From 2010 to 2012, there was a 21.6% increase in registration numbers. This year over 1,900 exhibitors from industrial manufacturing will display their products and solutions for the economy’s biggest leading industry. IMTS is famous for showing ideas and answers to manufacturing problems and the industry’s major challenges. IMTS will be held September 8-13, 2014 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Find more information at

PACK EXPO also takes place Chicago’s McCormick Place every two years. For 2014, PACK EXPO is “expecting 48,000 attendees, including nearly 5,000 international visitors looking for the latest processing andpackexpo packaging solutions.” PACK EXPO showcases the very latest in materials and packaging and will feature numerous product introductions and innovations. It is the only show in processing and packaging that “consistently delivers buyers from every market.” These buyers expect to find the latest and greatest in packaging and integrated solutions, so if this is your industry, you need to be here. With over 1.1 million net square feet of exhibit space, competitors will flock to display their products. PACK EXPO will be held November 2-5, 2014.

PACK EXPO grows more powerful each year, and this year, it is introducing PHARMA EXPO, which will be co-located with PACK EXPO. This new event will connect pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers with the packaging and processing technologies that are needed to meet industry regulations and challenges. The show will not only host exhibiting, but PHARMA EXPO will include a world-class conference program.

ihhsThe International Home and Housewares Show is the ideal show for showing high-end houseware products and innovative ideas. The show offers a multitude of services for exhibitors and attendees including free consulting sessions for specialty retailers and new product scanning. The International Home and Housewares Show demonstrates products in different categories as a “four shows-within-a-show expo.” This show is one of the top 20 largest trade shows in the U.S. and in the top 10 largest for Chicago. The show will take place March 15-18, 2014 at the McCormick Place in Chicago. You can find more information and a detailed list of services and exhibition categories at

2014 will be a great year for the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show as it represents more than 380,000 restaurant locations. Every year “more than 1,800 suppliers and tens of thousands of buyers comenationalrestaurant together to make lasting connections that drive business profitability and shape the future of the restaurant, foodservice and hospitality industry.” The 2014 show will feature educational sessions and at-show events centered around the top challenges for operators and the most rewarding opportunities. These opportunities include operations, marketing, sustainability, menu development, technology, special dietary needs, and health and nutrition. The NRA projects that the industry reached a record high of $660.5 billion in restaurant sales in 2013. This means that the industry is hotter than ever and you can be sure that you won’t want to miss this opportunity. The NRA show will be held at Chicago’s McCormick Place May 17-20, 2014.

ieeeThe IEEE PES Transmission & Distribution Conference & Exposition will celebrate 50 years of ideas and growth in innovation this year. “This landmark event will showcase the technologies, products, companies and minds that will lead our industry through the next fifty years—and beyond.” The theme of this year’s show is “The Next Fifty” and looks towards growth and success of the future in innovation. Attendees and exhibitors come from all over the U.S. and from more than 80 different countries. More than 700 exhibitors will be at the 2014 show and professionals will showcase their products and services in a classroom environment. With hands-on demonstrations and networking opportunities with the top 20 utility companies, IEEE PES Transmission & Distribution Conference & Exposition is a must if this is your industry. Go to for more information and to see updated event happenings.

2014 marks the 100th Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting and is themed “A Century of Transforming Medicine.” This show takes place annually and showcases the radiologyrsna industry in all its forms. RSNA 2014 will feature an interactive centennial pavilion of radiologic history on the exhibit floor. There will be ample amounts of face time with medical imaging professions so that attendees can see and learn about the newest and most effective technologies and products. There will be lectures from global leaders in medicine, hundreds of courses and sessions, thousands of exhibits and presentations, and more. As the 100th show, we can’t wait to see what this event brings. RSNA will be held November 30-December 5 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. You can see more of what will be offered and more information at

aaccThe American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) presents the 2014 Annual Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo. The Clinical Lab Expo is “the world’s largest gathering for laboratory medicine” with over 20,000 laboratory scientists from a broad range of specialties in attendance. It will allow you to connect with global leaders in the industry, learn about cutting edge technology, and hear vital research and changes in the field. Each year at this event there are more than 200 new product introductions. The 2014 Annual Meeting promises “the best in education with the latest advances in the scientific community.” Clinical Lab Expo will take place July 27-31, 2014 at McCormick Place in Chicago.

There is no other show in the industry like the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA). For more than thirty years, PLMA has been the largest private label sellingplma opportunity in the industry. PLMA brings in buyers from supermarkets, supercenters, drug chains, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, online retailers and more to see new products and to find new suppliers. More than 1,200 companies from 35 countries will be exhibiting this year. There are big names at this show and you won’t want to miss this opportunity. PLMA continues to see level or rising numbers in attendance in space. Exhibit space expands about 10% every year. PLMA will be held November 16-18 at the Rosemont Convention Center in Chicago. For more information visit

fmiFMI (Food Marketing Institute) Connect is a must-attend for anyone who is the food retail industry. This 4-day trade show is the only show in the field that provides solutions for your greatest food retail challenges. FMI Connect has over 900 U.S. and international exhibitors across 800,000 square feet of exhibit space. There will be over 40 educational sessions that have translations available for international attendees. There is no better place for relationship-building in your business. Special events occur every day. To top this show off, it will be co-located with four other trade shows and you can have access to those as well. FMI Connect will take place June 10-13 at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Go to for more information.

Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) Chicago targets the medical device industry, bringing knowledge on the most critical issues in the field. You’ll be able to “hear from leading manufacturers, productmdmchicago experts, and process improvers for solutions and industry knowledge on new technology, new materials, quality control, design and advanced manufacturing techniques.” Continuing the new feature from 2013, attendees will be able to “hop between 2 content tracks with all-day and all-access registration, or registered for individual seminars if you’re short on time or budget.” We think this show deserves a top 10 spot because of the offerings of focused seminars and flexibility of attending. MD&M Chicago takes place October 15-16, 2014 at the Schaumburg Convention Center. Go to the MD&M event site for information.

wp_value_smThese Top 10 Chicago trade shows prove how important exhibiting is in the marketing world today. If you’re interested in making trade shows more worth your while or to see what they can do for you, get your hands on The Value Of Trade Shows white paper.  Click here to request your free copy.

About the Author

Jennifer Snyder was a Marketing Associate and Project Manager at Skyline Exhibits, based at Skyline's International Design Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

2 responses to “Top 10 Chicago Trade Shows of 2014

  1. I always read about different trade shows that go on in Chicago, it’s good to have a list of the top ten to be sure to attend should I be in the area at the time!

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