When the ribbon cutting ceremony was held to officially open the 2021 Florida United Numismatists Show at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, the air of anticipation turned to joyous relief.
It was time for organizers and thousands of people who came to the bourse floor to enjoy the three-day event to move on to something better.
Cindy Wibker, Florida United Numismatists convention coordinator, said that it was “very exciting.” These are family reunions for most of us. We all have missed the people, the activities and the shows. This is a sign that we are back on the road. It was an absolute pleasure.”
Pandemic restrictions caused FUN officials to see their activities stop for much of 2020 and part of the current year. The FUN summer 2020 convention was cancelled. Officials from the club stated that while there were attempts to make the annual January FUN Convention a reality in 2021 due to weather conditions, it was impossible.
The July show opened and the past was forgotten. It was replaced by the present, which saw a total sellout of more than 250 bourse tables, an ensuing resumption in cherished activities, and reports of brisk sales throughout the show.
Without certain concessions, the event would not have been possible. Daily temperature checks and liability forms were necessary. The cost of temporary staff for screening and registration was borne by FUN organizers. Participants had to wear masks when they entered the hall. However, the masks were quickly removed once they were on the floor. The idea of social distancing was encouraged, and it was replaced by common sense. Nobody wants to stop activity.
Past FUN shows have continued to be a success. Clubs from all over Florida attend the shows, bringing their members by bus. Wibker stated that there are usually four to five clubs who bring their members by bus. “We had four this year, but some clubs reported having fewer members.” It will take time to rebuild it, as we expected.”
An additional room was located near the bourse floor that allowed the viewing of Heritage FUN sale auction lots. This sale would not take place at the show in 2021. It was decided to hold the event just a few days following the Heritage Dallas headquarters show.
There was plenty of entertainment for the children, as usual. The kid’s zone was located in the middle of the floor and featured special displays that included information and games. It also offered the opportunity for children to go on a scavenger hunting adventure with stops all over the floor. Abby Zechman, a hobo nickel carver and coin teacher, demonstrated the work involved in creating these attractive coins.
On the last day of the show, large numbers turned out for the Coin Collecting merit badges by Boy Scouts and Area Girl Scouts. Wibker said, “We don’t know how many Scouts we’ll get each year. But we typically have between 35-40.” Wibker stated that 55 Scouts attended the show this year. It is encouraging to see young people so interested in the show.
Visitors can find educational exhibits and the Piedmont Gold Panners at the rear of the floor. Here, young and old alike can hunt for treasure and learn more about the Reed Gold mine, which is where the precious metal was discovered for the first time in the United States.
A combination of dealers eager to return to “normal” and dealers who usually only exhibit at January events caused the increase in tables. The results for those who experimented were generally positive. Many reported that the show exceeded or met their expectations.
Andy Wedding, consignment manager for GreatCollections, said that “this show has been exceptional.” We didn’t know what to expect but we have had steady traffic and lots of interest. Everyone we have spoken to is great and seems happy to be at a show. This is our first major show in quite some time and it really allows us to connect.
The FUN website is counting down to the 67th FUN Convention. It will take place in the larger North-South building at the Orange County Convention Center from Jan. 6-9, 2022. Wibker said, “We are so excited that we have this one under us now.” We’re currently looking at 600 booths and have begun to work on it using the lessons learned from this show. There is plenty of momentum. Everyone seemed so happy, which was very satisfying to us all. We are grateful for everyone’s support and comments.