I attended my first International WorkBoat Show when it was held in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Walking into that show for the first time was overwhelming — in a good way. I didn’t know where to start. It turned out that anywhere worked.

All these years later, it has become that 1990s show on steroids, now held in the Earnest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Each year when I arrive, I get that same feeling of being overwhelmed — that “look at all of this” feeling. It’s part of the show.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because registration for this year’s show, which runs Nov. 29 through Dec. 1, starts today. On a recent trip to Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., I talked to Mike Pinkham, the yard’s vice president sales and marketing, about the WorkBoat Show. He said it's the one show "you have to go to. Everybody in the industry goes to that show.”

Think Mike was exaggerating? In 2016, the WorkBoat Show featured almost 1,100 exhibitors and hosted 15,000 visitors from 45 states and 27 countries.

I’ve got a small role in helping the marketing team put together this year’s conference schedule. We’re always trying to provide attendees with a new experience. So, this year, we are breaking out the conference schedule across two days and presenting it alongside the International WorkBoat Show. The WorkBoat Annual Conference will focus on three sectors — shipyards, tug, tow and passenger vessels and offshore. Each program will feature a varied format consisting of a combination of roundtable discussions and interactive presentations. A series of networking opportunities, designed for peer-to-peer problem solving and idea sharing, will complement the program, ensuring that the key information offered from each day is something attendees can use in a practical format.

In addition, Nov. 29, is WorkBoat’s Maintenance & Repair Day. Focused on all things maintenance and repair, this conference day is a must for owners, port captains, fleet managers, engineers, and mechanics responsible for keeping commercial vessels in service and working accurately. This extensive one-day program will deliver relevant topics pertaining to the current landscape of the commercial marine maintenance and repair industry and will prepare participants for future trends, technologies and methods.

So, you know the drill. Go to the International WorkBoat Show website and register. You know you’re going. So why wait? See you there.

Register NOW>>

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.