MATRA 2021: Good To Be Back!

Nearly 30 tent show photos!

Well, it’s been two years, but smiling crowds of attendees and vendors made MATRA look like a family reunion. Held this year at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, let the record show that every day was cloudless! We also enjoyed temperatures that rose one day to a high of nearly 70 by early afternoon, perfect weather for setting up, gathering each day and having a smooth takedown after breakfast Thursday.

As with every MATRA show, Tent OX attachments powered by Avant Tecno articulated loaders drove the majority of the 1000 or so stakes driven for tent installations. The same machines pulled the bulk of the stakes at show’s end, allowing exhibitors to leave a few hours earlier than would otherwise be possible. Attendees had plenty of opportunities to try out a 225, a 523, a 760i and the big 860i, and we had time to train some new customers as well.

Courtney Tamuzza of A Party Center on stake pulling duty on closing day at MATRA 2021
Scott Woodruff moving carpet with the OX Horn.
Jeff Hinck of A Party Center delivering tables to a truck.
Mike Tannen was MATRA’s field general through the show.

Liz Davis, Mahaffey, Fabric Structures, delivers a brief safety talk Tuesday morning at MATRA.

It’s really difficult to pick out just a few high points of this show, but we’ll try anyway.

A majority of showgoers begin their show experience on Tuesday attending the many education sessions and the welcome reception.
This year’s sessions matched previous years’ standards for excellence, and nearly all were well subscribed
Sean McCarthy of McCarthy Tents & Events spoke on “Building A Facility for the Future.”

Steve Belliveau (right) of Anchor Industries and Jeff Hinck of A Party Center
spoke on “Anchoring Essentials” Moderator Brian Bolt of TopTec is shown between them.

Nick Deninno of Block and Roll Industries spoke on “When Tent Accessories are Necessities.”

George Smith of Mahaffey (left)) talks with John Fuchs of Anchor Industries after
George and Melani Kodikian gave a talk on “Strategic Inventory Building.”

Brian Rieke of Stamford Tent (“center) and Mensur Ramic of Chattanooga Tent
were panelists on “The Art of Anchoring” education session, chaired by Liz Davis.

In addition, Courtney Ramsey of Magnet Culture covered “Staying Power: How to Keep Employees Longer.” Additional sessions included “Propane Pros” with Marc Smith of PHP Distribution and Kevin Gern of ARA. “Technically Not A ‘Techy’ Person” was presented by Karen Gordon of GoodShuffle Pros. A Tent Trivia Happy Hour and Welcome Reception closed out the scheduled events of the day.

Wednesday featured the always popular Tour of the Tents, broken up as usual into two big groups who walked the property to hear the latest from the tent manufacturing industry’s most important makers.

One of the more poignant highlights of the tour was a brief speech by Michael Linton of Michael’s Party Rentals in Palmer, Massachusetts. He brought our attention to the plight of children around the world, who, including his son Bryce, have a rare, life-threatening blood cancer that can be cured by someone with a matching blood type. Michael is part of an organization called BeThe Match, (Michael is shown in the picture below with New England volunteer Jessica) which advocates for these young people by inviting adults from 18 to 40 to help as donors.

You can help! Click this link, and tell them you heard about it from Bryce and Michael.

The afternoon highlight was the MATRA Games. This is the Tent and Event Rental industry’s decathlon, and – as always – some of the industry veterans showed impeccable form alongside their younger compatriots.

Steve Belliveau of Anchor launches a tent at MATRA Games
Unidentified competitor manages well over 30 feet with his tent toss.
Mike Fitzwater of Special Events Entertainment shows a practiced hand in the Hammer Toss.
Kyle Richardson of L&A Tent and Event Rentals moved quickly in the lacing event.
Courtney Tamuzza was one of several stake driving competition contestants who had
to start over due to the many large rocks lurking in the berm where the games were held.

It was a perfect day for the games, despite the challenging rocky soil.

Two-person stake driving demanded concentration and coordination.

Speaking of bright, let’s take a moment to mention the sartorial magnificence of the Grandchamp team, clothed in red outfits throughout the show. Having fun is contagious, and our friends from Montreal continue to set a standard that the rest of us are happy to emulate.

The Awards Dinner Wednesday night was memorable by virtue of those honored for their service, those who join the board, and those who pass the baton to those who carry their good work at MATRA forward. Grandchamp sported the largest red and plaid patterns available for suits as they celebrated their own Golden Sledgehammer Award winner.

Grandchamp’s arrival at the dinner provided a significant highlight, along with Brian Richardson’s last (?), inspired fling as Master of Ceremonies …

…and outgoing MATRA president Kenny Puff’s valedictory speech…

… but it was Fred Tracy who provided the show’s surprise coda with the arrival of a Dromedary (one hump) camel.

Here the camel nuzzles Beau Slaven, president of Avant Tecno USA, who visited
Tent OX at the show with Avant Northeast Regional Manager Brian DePaul, right.
Melani Kodikian and Scott Pickel during Thursday’s show takedown.

The MATRA Tent Show team earns grateful thanks for a wonderful return to a great tradition.