Fine-tuning a trade show each year is an art that organizers of the 2011 Orlando Pool & Spa Show have certainly perfected. Building upon last year’s outreach to industry professionals in the Southeast and North, they have crafted an event that will address the need for continuing education and industry networking. And folks are responding well.

“We’re seeing an increase in people coming from outside Florida,” reports Wendy Parker Barsell, executive director of the Florida Swimming Pool Association. Early registration was “way ahead of last year,” so she’s confident attendance will meet or

exceed the 4,000 attendees at the 2010 show.

Attendees should note that the show is occurring Feb. 9-12 — two weeks earlier than usual. Organizers had to move it up so it wouldn’t conflict with two events bringing thousands to the nearby Daytona International Speedway — the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s biggest race, and Bike Week, featuring motorcycle shows, races and live concerts.

The theme for this year’s Orlando show is “Beyond Water, It’s Everything Under the Sun.” Explaining that the sun reference is always part of the theme, Parker Barsell says the focus is on “the whole backyard, not just the water. It’s where you come for every aspect having to do with the entire backyard.”

One fun element of the show are the cash raffles, held every hour or two. It starts with a $100 giveaway, and the amount may go up to $700 by the end of the day, according to Parker Barsell.

“It’s a great show!” she sums up. “There’s everything in one place — education, the latest products and the chance to network with colleagues, including the heads of companies.”

A Howling Good Time

The Private Industry Party will be at Howl At the Moon Orlando this year, and it is quite the hot spot. Indeed, the staff calls the nightclub a venue that “rocks International Drive [with] high-energy dueling pianos.”

Party-goers will find that the place lives up to the hype. Here’s how it works: Two piano players perform for one hour, then yield the stage to two new players. But at the changeover, all four musicians stay there for a “four-way” — a jam that includes other instruments, such as drums, guitar and saxophone. The Howl staff and audience join in for two or three songs, and blow the roof off the joint to hear tell.

Besides the entertainment, the Industry Party will offer an open bar, free food and video games from 6:30-10:30 p.m. An outdoor tent will provide more space and quieter areas. Tickets are $25 per person.

Golfer’s Dream

The 2011 Pool Pro Classic Golf Tournament is scheduled for Thurs., Feb. 10, at Eagle Creek Golf Club - Orlando.

“It’s a new course this year,” Parker Barsell observes. “It should be a great tournament.”

That’s putting it mildly. Club management calls it a “true Scottish-style experience,” noting that the venue was designed by world-renowned golf course architects Ron Gal of the United States and Howard Swan of Europe. “[It] offers the best of both worlds. Its five par 5’s, five sets of tees, and more than 90 bunkers and dramatic bulkheads are reminiscent of those found in Scotland and England.”

In fact, Eagle Creek was named one of the “Top 10 New Courses Since 2000” by Travel & Leisure magazine.

The tourney kicks off at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start. The $85 fee includes breakfast, range balls, lunch and a chance at prizes (to be announced).

Top Honors

The highly anticipated welcome reception and design awards presentation event returns to the Rosen Centre Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 10. This award-winning Orlando hotel is known for its meeting facilities, attentive staff and beautiful accommodations. Best of all, it’s located adjacent to the convention center, making it a breeze to get to this popular awards event that kicks off the show.

Admission is free with registration, says Wendy Parker Barsell, executive director of FSPA. The event will feature a cash bar and hors d’oeuvres and, of course, a program honoring builders and outstanding industry individuals.

Like last year, there will be more than two dozen awards presented in 12 categories, including vanishing edge, pool/spa combinations, semicommercial pools, residential waterfeatures and the like.

Individual awards being bestowed that night include Person of the Year, Directors of the Year from the chapters, and perhaps inductees into the FSPA Hall of Fame as well.


There’s always been a strong emphasis on education at the Orlando show because Florida is very regulated, says technical training coordinator Bernice Ryder-Smit. Thus, most of the show’s seminars meet the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board’s approval for continuing-education credit. License-holders must take 14 hours of state-approved courses every two years.

Parker Barsell says standout seminars expected to have high attendance include those  on new energy regulations going into effect in 2011; Internet marketing; the tax tip seminar; the sessions on ADA regulations for public facilities; and the “Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act - Understanding and Compliance.” Another one about developing a referral program should draw interest because, she says, “In this economy, that’s the way a lot of business is coming in.”

Of course, Parker Barsell adds, there are also classics such as water chemistry and renovation.

Once again, the show’s green commitment can also be seen in the seminar lineup, such as “New ORP and pH Technology and Going Green,” “Understanding Solar Technology,” “Sustainability Strategies” and the like.

Meanwhile, over in the hands-on training area of the exhibit hall, manufacturers will be demonstrating their products. While these sessions don’t provide CE credits, they do offer valuable product training. Parker Barsell points out that those wishing to attend must sign up, and there is a nominal fee per session. The Florida Swimming Pool Association’s CILB Providership number is 0000917.

For more seminar information, visit