WACO’s annual spring conference is set to be an in-person event, but social distancing guidelines will be changing the show’s format in some ways.

Lori Severson, the executive director of the Wisconsin Association of Campground Owners (WACO), told WOODALLSCM.com (WCM) that planning for the association’s in-person conference from March 17-21 is going well, although there have been some adjustments due to the ongoing COVID crisis.

Held at the Holiday Inn Hotel & Convention Center in Stevens Point, Wisc., Severson said they, unfortunately, had to cancel its Kids Camp, which provided a way for kids to take part in activities while their parents were attending educational sessions throughout the day.

“That is unfortunate because there is absolutely nothing open in Stevens Point that the kids can go to,” she noted.

However, Severson said that the hotel has taken a number of precautions to ensure a safe event for everyone that attends. Including the placement of sanitizing stations at every door and in every room of the conference center. A sponsor of the show is set to come in every night and sanitize. Masks will also be required.

“People should definitely be protected,” she noted.

Since the conference is going to be utilizing more space for dinners and other gatherings, Severson said that there will not be vendors in the lobby area of the hotel like usual.

“There will be slightly fewer vendors than normal,” she highlighted.

In the larger vendor hall, Severson noted that everything will be pretty much the same, but that vendor booths will be sanitized before and after each day’s show. The booths are also going to have a different look so that they are not touching each other.

The WACO conference will be utilizing a color-coded band system that tells attendees how comfortable another person is with talking and interacting with other show-goers. Red means to keep a good distance, yellow means a person is generally OK with everything and green indicates that a person is absolutely OK.

So far, Severson pointed out that 118 vendors have registered to take part in the event, noting that the conference normally draws in around 192 vendors.

“That fills all of the spaces at the convention center, so I don’t think we will be able to do that this year,” she said. “But we are doing quite well with vendors.”

Severson also pointed out that the convention center hotel and another nearby hotel are already booked for the conference.

“That always tells me my numbers faster than the registrations do, because attendees will do that part first,” she explained. “It looks like people are coming and we have been fielding calls from other states with people that want to come because they want to attend the trade show. We are excited about that and we think it will work out really well.”

Severson explained that the conference will be having fewer educational sessions, with around 47 sessions planned, and that some speakers will be joining the conference through Zoom due to the inability of some speakers to make it to the conference.

The convention is still working to secure a keynote speaker and Severson said that information will be made available once the keynote speaker confirms they can attend the conference.

“People are really excited about having this in-person event,” Severson said. “All of our campgrounds were open, and they all had great years, and I think everyone feels comfortable in the environment that we are hosting the show in. Obviously, we do have to take precautions and we will be doing that.”

The conference is also still set to hosts its annual auction, raffles and those types of events.

“We will definitely have a Green Bay Packers player there too,” Severson pointed out. “Those details are being worked out.”

To learn more about the conference and to register, click here.