Our contributing columnist, Jeff Dearduff, advises bakers and snack producers to attend IBIE 2010 and get involved with the many competitions, seminars, contests and networking opportunities that are taking place at the Las Vegas-based show.

Three years ago, I experienced the International Baking Industry Exposition in O-Town, otherwise known as Orlando, Fla. While Orlando is a great city with a great convention center, it just didn’t have the same buzz as a show in Sin City. Yup, I’m happy to be attending IBIE 2010 in Las Vegas, back in the place it belongs.

To assist in your preparation prior to heading out to the show, I would like to share with you some things that are happening that are a bit different than any show in the past. For starters, the Retail Bakers Association (RBA) has partnered with BEMA and the American Bakers Association (ABA) to bring a show with the added element of the retail side of the industry. While there have always been a few retail elements to what was traditionally a wholesale-based expo, this new partnership will provide wholesalers with a new level of exposure to retailers’ equipment and ingredients, and vice-versa. Keep your eyes peeled for a new idea that could be adapted in either direction.

Because of the RBA’s involvement, as well as some other groups joining in, there also will be a number of competitions that will bring a high level of energy to the industry as professional pastry chefs and artisan bakers square off in different World Class events. Follow your nose to the smell of fresh bread and cake and cheer on the competitors.

Another huge element is the education and seminar offerings. Every day of the show, there is a long lineup of educational topics designed to cover just about every area of the industry and deliver a personal development angle. Make sure you check out the schedule in Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s IBIE Show Guide to learn about the various seminars and courses. And be sure to catch the talk about mentoring (I hear the speaker is a good one and has something very special in store….wink wink).

Then there’s the exhibition floor. Rumor has it, there are more than 700 vendors lined up to exhibit this year, all bringing a resurgence of innovative ideas. It seems like every other show has a new level of automation, robotics and ingredient science to choose from. Orlando was a little weak on out-of-the-box innovation, so we are due for a spike. I am betting we are going to see companies showing some new wares in areas we didn’t even know existed. With IBIE 2010, there are no ropes, so don’t be afraid to get right in there and touch some of the equipment both physically and mentally to get a feel for what might bring your operation to the next level.

The other neat part about this show is that you get to sample products that are made with the ingredients and equipment being shown on the exhibition floor. Breads, rolls, cakes, donuts and other goodies will be available all around the convention hall, so be sure to stop and have a taste. I even heard that some vendors will be serving ice cold beer in their booths.

Hot, fresh yeast-raised donuts with an ice cold beer - it doesn’t get any better than this!

Another new and unique feature of the show is geared for those companies who are stepping into the world of social responsibility. A competition called Becoming Environmentally Sustainable Together (B.E.S.T.) in Baking was launched mid-year to excite vendors about sharing their energy saving or environmentally friendly innovations with the industry. If you are faced with considering vendors who are showing signs of being environmentally progressive, look for the B.E.S.T in Baking signs and logos at their booths.

And finally, if you are having a large group convene in Las Vegas and are planning on holding some meetings, the IBIE office can arrange meeting space to your liking. If you have always been interested in doing more in the industry with service and networking, make sure you visit all of the association’s booths, which will have representatives available to explain how you can help and how they can help you.

On a personal note, since I am the first vice chairman for the American Society of Baking (ASB), please stop by booth 5615 to learn more about this organization of bakery professionals and how they serve the industry.

This is the show where the industry unites. Spend $75 to register at www.ibie2010.com and find your way to the strip where you will see, smell, hear, touch and taste the industry.

See you in Las Vegas!