John Steinbeck’s novel

Cannery Row was published 65 years ago, yet Monterey still bears

his mark. PIE attendees can check out the many restaurants, bars,

shops — and Steinbeck’s Spirit of Monterey Wax

John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row was published 65 years ago, yet Monterey still bears his mark. PIE attendees can check out the many restaurants, bars, shops — and Steinbeck’s Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum.

Monterey and John Steinbeck are synonymous, but this Northern California coastal town has harbored other famous residents, too. Musician Frank Zappa, football Hall of Famer James Lofton and novelist Robert Louis Stevenson all have lived here at one time or another.

Now, we can’t guarantee you’ll run into any celebrities when you’re in town for the 24th Annual Pool Industry Expo Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. But you will encounter fantastic golf courses, scenic drives, wine-tasting rooms, local artists’ galleries, specialty shops, a world-famous aquarium — and some of the finest seafood around.

Class in session

The “education vacation,” as regular attendees like to call it, returns to the Monterey Conference Center this year. PIE will offer 44 seminars covering a wide range of topics. Technical sessions will explore everything from pool pumps and cleaners to water chemistry, controls, staining and more. Meanwhile, business courses will cover key subjects such as accounting and how to keep your company out of legal trouble. There are also seminars on Title 20 and how anti-entrapment is changing the industry.

Then there’s the “green” angle. This is the third year PIE has had an eco-friendly emphasis, says Bill Hoy, show co-director and president of Skyline Pool & Spa Inc. in Menlo Park, Calif. As he explains, if a product has an ecological benefit, students will hear about it.

“I always ask instructors the question ‘Do you have anything to offer that’s green?’ And they’re often surprised that they do. For example, there’s LED lighting, even motor repair,” Hoy notes.

A new green class causing some pre-show excitement, he says, is the four-hour course on Thursday afternoon, “Thermal Pool Structures,” which includes a cost analysis.


Organizers are expecting roughly the same turnout as last year. That would mean 5,600-plus attendees roaming the exhibit halls in the conference center and the adjacent Portola Plaza Hotel.

We have a 28,000-square-foot show space with room for 150 booths, and it’s looking like we’ll make it,” Hoy says. “The big room is sold out now, and the other room is doing well.”

For those who love giveaways — and who doesn’t? — a total of $2,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to showgoers. On Thursday and Friday, $500 prizes will be given out; on Saturday the grand prize of $1,000 will be awarded. To win, you must be on the show floor at the time of the drawing and, if a prize goes unclaimed, it will be carried over to the next day.

Also, a random drawing for a Hawaiian vacation for two (including airfare and lodging for a week) will be held on Saturday.

Let the games begin

When it comes to activities, you’ll see some old favorites. Kicking things off is the golf tournament at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach. For those who like demanding courses, this is a must. It has been the scene of top tourneys, including the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The PIE scramble event is slated for Wed., Sept. 28. The $175 fee includes the awards dinner at 6 p.m. at Peter B’s Brewery at the Portola Plaza Hotel. Approximately 60 golfers are expected and space is limited; pre-register at

The ever-popular Pool Tech Olympics returns to the Portola Plaza Hotel. Dozens of service pros will compete in events such as the hose-coiling challenge, vac head race, pump basket cleaning and float toss. Finalists are loaded down with tech gear, then must run an obstacle course. The winner gets the title of Pool Man of the Year.

Not to be outdone, the Pool Kids Olympics sets eager children loose on a wading pool stocked with tons of rubber ducks. Each kid is given a net and a chance to see how many ducks they can scoop up. Everyone gets a prize, too. Last year, it was little medallions that looked like Olympic medals.

As for PIE 2011, Hoy says special festivities already are in the works for the show’s 25th anniversary. Stay tuned.