A record number of architects and designers, many lured by the promise of free admission, helped increase attendance at the year’s Coverings to nearly 37,000. Show organizers say half of the show’s attendance came from first time visitors. They noted that the decision to hold Coverings in Chicago this year after a long history of meetings in Orlando, Fla., clearly paid off.

            “With more showgoers than ever before from the East North Central, Mountain and Pacific West states, there is clear evidence that Coverings exceeded its goals to expand to new audiences,” said Coverings show management company National Trade Productions in a statement.

     Attendance at Coverings rose in a number of categoriesl. Most notable was a 90% increase in the number of  architects and designers over last year. Many were on hand as guests of attendees in the flooring business who were encouraged to invite a client for free. Also up was attendance among contractors which grew by 22 percent. Retailer participation was up 17 percent and the number of those involved in the distributor side of the stone business rose nearly 8 percent. In a regional breakdown, attendance from the East North Central region was up 48 percent, visits from the Pacific West grew to 28 percent, and participation from the Mountain states rose 22 percent.

            Plans call for Coverings to return to Chicago in 2009 as part of a schedule that now alternates the show between the two cities. The show is scheduled to return to Orlando next year at the Orange County Convention Center, April 29 to May 2.