A Growth Experience
1) Outgoing World Pet Association (WPA) president Doug Poindexter (left) with
BY LARUE PALMER
incoming WPA president Jacinthe Moreau.
2) The main hall boasted many attractive displays.
3) The Aquatic Experience offered a variety of attractions and hands-on activities.
4) Live shows and contests captivated audiences.
The 2017 edition of the Aquatic Experi- ence, held at the Schaumberg Conven- tion Center in Schaumburg, Ill., Nov.
3-4, boasted more vendors and attendees than
any previous year. Originally billed as the first
trade show in the pet industry to feature everything aquatic under one roof, this year’s
show delivered as promised, with numerous
booths and displays highlighting every aquatic category with a wide range of products,
and showcasing some leading trends such as
aquasacaping and shrimp breeding.
The event also marked a milestone for
World Pet Association (WPA)—the producer
of Aquatic Experience, as well as SuperZoo
and America’s Family Pet Expo—as longtime president Doug Poindexter walked his
last show as the leader of WPA, retiring officially at the end of December after 2 7 years
at the helm. Poindexter will be replaced by
Jacinthe Moreau, who brings with her broad
experience in the animal health industry, including roles at VCA Animal Hospital and
“We couldn’t be happier to welcome
Jacinthe as incoming president and newest
member of the WPA family,” Poindexter
said. “She already feels like family, having
spent nine years on our board, and she will
bring unprecedented experience to the job.
With the relevant experience she brings from
the veterinary field as well as her business
acumen, she is the ideal candidate to take
WPA to the next level.”
Moreau was upbeat about her prepara-
tion for the new role.
“For now, I just want to immerse myself
into learning this job as best I can, and in six
months or so I should be ready to hit the
ground running,” Moreau said. “I’ve been
well versed in the matters of the organiza-
tion for several years, so our mission is un-
changed and our vision is clear.”
While the 2017 show marked Poindexter’s
last as WPA president, it continued making
strides in becoming a premier, not-to-be-
missed event for both aquatic hobbyists and
industry professionals. Booth vendors ex-
pressed that they were pleased to have an
opportunity to exhibit at a show that focuses
on aquatics only. They also welcomed the op-
portunity to encounter thousands of enthusi-
astic hobbyists of all ages and experience lev-
els under one roof, as other pet shows focus
so heavily on dogs and cats. Manufacturers
enjoyed the chance to speak directly to con-
sumers about their products, talk about new
releases and get their feedback on various
topics concerning the hobby.
Aquatic Experience bustled with activity the entire weekend, a clear sign that
the consumer was the main point of focus.
Among the hottest tickets at the event was
the Sea Lion Splash, a live stage show pre-
senting a mischievous family of sea lions
that captivated audiences with their up-
close-and-personal stage antics. The Aquas-
caping Live! Contest was another strong
pull on attendees’ attention, as contestants
worked feverishly throughout the weekend
creating beautiful aquascapes and vying for
cash prizes in two categories. Also known as
“aquatic gardening,” this hobby is one of the
year’s hottest trends.
Perhaps the most unique attraction at the
show was the second International Shrimp
Contest USA. Dozens of 2.5-gallon tanks were
lined up side by side with nothing but charcoal gray gravel in them and nearly microscopic shrimp. Selective breeding that takes
place with these shrimp is time consuming
and costly, but for those who can perfect the
method to consistently breed a particularly
interesting looking shrimp that no one else
has, the reward is great. One shrimp can earn
between $3,000 and $5,000.
The main hall was full of displays, including the Florida Tropical Fish Farms Association’s (FTFFA) wall of 65 decorated aquariums stocked with a variety of ornamental
tropical fish and aquatic plants. Another
display sponsored by Aqueon, Hikari, Tetra,
Fluval, Segrest Farms, CaribSea, Estes’ and
Jellyfish Art featured fish from around the
world in a stunning 2,000-square-foot aquatics presentation. It was both educational and
entertaining, especially the giant electric eel
that will reportedly grow to more than 6 feet
long and pack 860 volts of electricity.
As is the case with one of the more popular trends to come along in recent years, coral
frags were highly visible in splendid array.
Lots of people purchased frags at great prices
for their home displays, and there was a great
deal of coral to choose from.
WPA will be moving the Aquatic Experience to Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, N.J., in 2018. Chris Clevers, a longtime
WPA board member and the president of
Hikari Sales USA in Hayward, Calif., explained the decision to relocate the event.
“The original idea always was to move
the show between three locations to try
to access the highest percentage of aquatic-minded consumers possible,” Clevers
said. “Chicago was originally chosen due to
its easy access from anywhere in the country
and due to the fact it has a very high aquatic
following. We stayed there longer than anticipated because some of our assumptions
did not play out as expected, and we felt
like we really needed to dial everything in
there before moving to location No. 2. Our
plans are to go back to Chicago after a year
or two in the New York area. Future dates
and locations are predicated on the support
for the show from industry and attendance
by aquatic-minded consumers.”
Aquatic Experience 2018 will be held Oct.
Aquatic Experience continues to gain a following with
both hobbyists and industry professionals.