While pool sales and building permits remain low in the Sunshine State, strong exhibitions and steady foot traffic helped lead the Orlando Pool & Spa Show to another successful year.

“I am very happy with the feedback from manufacturers — they are all pleased,” said Wendy Parker, executive director of the Florida Swimming Pool Association, the show coordinator. “Even considering what’s going on with the economy, there is optimism for our industry.”

Previously called the Florida Pool & Spa Show, the Orlando event occurred Feb. 20-21 at the Orange County Convention Center. Attendance registered around 3,600, a 10 percent increase from the 2008 numbers.

Despite a 15 percent decrease in booth space, the show again drew more than 200 exhibitors. And the smaller area actually might have worked to everyone’s advantage.

“The layout is excellent and you can have one-on-one time [with exhibitors],” said Roscoe Stallings, owner of Roscoe’s Pool Service in Moultrie, Ga. “We are really glad that Florida puts on this show, and we come every year.”

Though there were plenty of familiar names at the show, 39 companies made their debut as exhibitors.

“It’s our first time exhibiting at any show, and it’s been fantastic,” said Scott Weiss, CEO of Parachute Skimmer in Orlando. “I’ve gotten a lot of good responses from service techs.”

The show floor also was host to 15 hands-on training courses, covering topics such as heaters, hydraulics and compliance with the federal Virginia Graeme Baker Pool & Spa Safety Act. More than 700 attendees filled seats across the more traditional seminars and classes, many of which offered CILB and APSP technical credits.

“The seminars were very well attended, with a number of them being standing room only,” Parker noted.

The welcome party attracted 600 and helped kick off this year’s event, while other off-hours entertainment included the awards reception and a golf tournament.

“Even though the show feels a little smaller — it’s the pinch of the economy — there’s still great information and it’s a solid show,” said Lance Wood, manager of Pool Time Supplies and Service in Riverview, Fla.

Next year’s event again will take place at the Orange County Convention Center on Feb. 19-20.

Erika Taylor also contributed to this story.