Before going to Showman’s Show a few day ago I’d never been to an events trade show – the prospect hadn’t, how can I put this, inspired me. But a friend suggested it, I had some time, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get over my trepidation.
What was I expecting? A lot of event suppliers – infrastructure, equipment, event services, that sort of thing. And what do you know, that’s exactly what it was. Marquees, toilets, storage, cash machines, generators (lots of generators), waste management, event staff, traffic control – you name it.
I was also expecting, perhaps it was more hoping for, an innovative side – creative projections or water design – but that didn’t seem to be in evidence. Apart from some cute tipis, a solar-powered stage truck and a majestic saddlespan marquee there wasn’t too much to fire the imagination.
It was a good reminder of the unglamorous side of events – and how important it is. All this dry and uncharismatic stuff – the fencing, the toilet cleaning, the trakway, the plumbing: it’s this that allows the Glastonbury or Latitude to happen, that enables the imaginative, creative, inspirational stuff to take place.
Infrastructure and services are the dreary underbelly of the shiny rock concert, the foundations upon which the festival kingdom has been built. If what people have come to see or hear is the event's heartbeat, its pumping blood, then its wires and water pipes and wastebins are its lymphatic system, vital for its wellbeing, unnoticed until it goes wrong.
We may not have been inspired by Showman's but we learnt a lot about mobile toilets.