"In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Those words are the wisdom of former President and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. We can all relate to the best-laid plans falling short, and Chicago 2021 falls squarely into that category.
As many of you know, we selected Chicago as our show's site to host a "mini-international" between NY 2016 and Boston 2026. Unfortunately, when the pandemic began in 2020, our plans changed. Along with the American Topical Association and the American First Day Cover Society, we started planning for our more traditional Great American Stamp Show. The show is scheduled for the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, from August 12-15, 2021.
The Good News
In early February, Cook County moved out of the resurgence plan and into Phase 4. The Stephens Convention Center will be operational again once the region enters Phase 5: Post-Pandemic. According to the State of Illinois, the conditions to enter Phase 5 are “Vaccine, effective and widely available treatment, or the elimination of new cases over a sustained period of time through herd immunity or other factors."
What Does That Mean?
In short, it means we, as a country, have work to do. As of this writing, roughly 42 million doses have been given, just under 13 people per 100. To get to herd immunity, experts believe 80 percent of the U.S. population needs to be inoculated. We also have to factor 6 to 8 weeks to get both doses of the vaccine and building up a resistance to the virus. We are also unclear how variant strains with increased transmissibility now showing up in the U.S. will affect the months ahead.
Planning and Hoping
We have been communicating with local officials and Convention Center staff to prepare as best we can. Several spring events at the Stephens Center are being rebooked for later in the summer and fall. Officially, Convention Center staff “hope to be operational by the summer.” The reality is the Great American Stamp Show lands in the gray area between continued restrictions and some return to normalcy. The APS, ATA, and AFDCS have been planning in earnest.
The World Series of Philately landscape has shifted to schedule for the second half of the year. A few shows typically held in the spring have announced or are looking to firm up a show in August or later. Unfortunately, others will cancel or be limited to bourse only for 2021, with plans of coming back with a full exhibition in 2022.
Not Your Average Stamp Show
For those who have attended a Great American Stamp Show in years past, you know, this is not your average stamp show. It is the most significant national show every year. We have a responsibility for the show to be financially viable for dealers and the APS. To accomplish that, we must draw 130 dealers, 3,000 or more visitors, and maintain whatever health and safety restrictions required to operate the show. Even in a usual year, this is no small undertaking, but it will be a challenge with the pandemic's everchanging world.
We hope to bring all the events that make our stamp shows memorable for collectors and non-collectors alike. But if we're able to proceed, we are already anticipating changes to certain functions, particularly the dinners and seminars where close spacing may not be allowed.
To be able to meet the needs of the show, there is a decision point. In this case, we will make a firm decision by the end of March based on the best available information and guidance from folks in Illinois.
Thanks to all the dealers and members who have shared their thoughts for our Great American Stamp Show. Count me as one of the members who is hoping we can make it happen!