Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Vegas Conventions That Forgo Convention

Away from the millions of playing cards, beyond the buffet lines and past the buzzing neon lights, thousands of people are convening in Las Vegas for one reason or another, be it business, pleasure or dressing up in costumes. Sin City may be widely known as the “entertainment capital of the world,” but a lesser known title the city proudly owns is “convention capital of the world.” Each year, Las Vegas hosts hundreds of conventions in its more than 10 million square feet of convention space.

The usual types of conventions come and go. Gaming conventions, fashion markets and automotive trade shows are standard fare, but it’s the niche expos and conferences that round out the convention calendar and make Vegas the vibrant mix of eccentrics it truly is. Here are the top 10 strangest conventions held in Las Vegas.

10. Consumer Electronics Show

Put on by the Consumer Technology Association every January, CES is far and away the largest convention in Las Vegas with an average of more than 150,000 attendees annually. Exhibitors offer the usual high-end consumer electronics like giant tablets and fancy pedometers, but it’s not uncommon to come across oddities like a singing “Communication Android” or a machine that creates intricate artworks out of cappuccino foam.

9. Adult Entertainment Expo

Also held in early January (Coincidence? We think not.), the Adult Entertainment Expo is a festive celebration of pornography and sex toys. Think of the magic that happens at the nightclubs when attendees of AEE and CES collide. “Wait … YOU like Star Trek too?”

8. American Pyrotechnics Association Educational Conference

Don’t let the estimated attendance of only 150 for next year’s APA educational conference fool you. There’s going to be fireworks.

7. International Association of Fire Fighters Convention

For any woman who has ever dreamed of rubbing elbows (and other things) with a convention center's worth of fire men, now’s your chance. More than 1,000 fire fighters will be in attendance during the summer convention hosted by MGM Grand. Be sure to vote for your favorites for this year’s calendar!

6. US Open and National Championship of Table Tennis

USA Table Tennis will host the US Open of Table Tennis in July and the national championship in December at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For sports bettors, Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Linghui Kong are the odds-on favorites to win it all.

5. Handcrafted Soap Guild Conference

Yup. That’s a thing.

4. National Air Traffic Controllers Association Safety Conference

When hundreds of the world’s most stressed workers let their collective hair down in Las Vegas, look out. Ain’t no party like a control tower party!

3. National Scrabble Convention

While this is a rotating event, Las Vegas has had the true honor of hosting the competition twice, in 1987 and 2013. New Zealander Nigel Richards capped off his glorious run of four straight titles with his win at the now shuttered Riviera Hotel & Casino in 2013. Richards won a whopping $10,000 in prize money.

2. Black Hat

The yearly cyber security gathering brings hackers and information security specialists together with federal agencies and private corporations looking to recruit employees. 2016’s lineup of panel discussions and training courses include such hot topics as hacking vehicle networking systems (the cars that park themselves) and infrastructure hacking (what happened to Sony in run up to the release of its film “The Interview”). Hope you brought your RFID-blocking wallet!

1. MerCon

Sadly, this convention was short lived, but in 2011 Las Vegas’ Silverton hotel and casino welcomed one of history’s greatest gatherings, MerCon. The first ever mermaid convention saw around two dozen adults, men and women, dress up as merfolk, complete with giant leg-hiding tails that cost upwards of $4,000 to make. There was a mermaid pageant, swimming and diving workshops and a group swim in the hotel pool. It was as amazing as you are imagining.

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