First U.S. ‘GASS’ show slated for public venue this summer

The American Philatelic Society (APS) is hoping to host its 2021 Great American Stamp Show (GASS) in an open public venue this summer; however, plans hinge on the collecting community’s interest in this inaugural event.

With three convening societies, including the APS, American Topical Association (ATA) and American First Day Cover Society (AFDCS), the first GASS is scheduled for Aug. 12-15 in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Ill. While the show’s original debut – slated for last August – was cancelled due to COVID-19, U.S. vaccination efforts have seen officials across that country rollback their pandemic regulations.

“We’ve waited patiently for some good news out of Illinois, and Governor J.B. Pritzker delivered it last week,” APS Executive Director Scott English said on March 25. “Illinois is moving very quickly toward easing restrictions and likely safely removing them by August.”

Once 70 per cent of all Illinoisans aged 65 and older are vaccinated, the state enters its “Bridge Phase,” further lifting restrictions and allowing the show’s convention centre venue to open.

“Every week, more Americans are receiving vaccinations and taking the proper precautions to stay safe. If we continue moving in this direction, the Great American Stamp Show will be the perfect way to bring the hobby together,” English added this March.

As of May 6, Illinois public health officials are reporting 70 per cent of the state’s residents (aged 18 and over) have received at least one vaccine dose.

A day earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden announced a new national goal of vaccinating at least 70 per cent of all U.S. adults by July 4.

As of May 5, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 44.7 per cent of all U.S. adults had received at least one vaccine dose.

COVID-19 VACCINE IN CANADA

In Canada, as of May 5, 35.2 per cent of Canadians have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously said Canada’s national goal is to vaccine all Canadians with at least one dose by the end of September; however, with more imported doses coming in from other countries, officials are hopeful there will be enough supply to provide all Canadians with one dose by Canada Day on July 1.

Until then, stamps shows and all other events in most parts of the country, depending on provincial and territorial regulations, remain shuttered due to COVID-19.

PRE-SHOW BENCHMARKS

The APS has established benchmarks it must hit before moving ahead with the show.

By May 15, which is the show’s exhibit entry deadline, the APS must have commitments from 75 dealers and 25 societies plus at least 500 exhibit frames reserved.

“These benchmarks will provide a strong show for dealers and attendees without substantial financial risk to the APS.”

The 2021 GASS includes a thematic, first-day cover and open competition for multi-frame and single-frame exhibits and also features the annual World Series of Philately Champion of Champions and Most Popular Champion of Champions competitions.

The show also includes the 53rd Annual Literature Exhibition, whose jury includes one Canadian, Ed Kroft, serving as an apprentice.

SHOW VENUE OPEN FOR BUSINESS

On May 4, the GASS venue – the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center – announced trade shows and public events will return to the 840,000-square-foot complex this summer.

Dormant since March 2020, when the pandemic began, the convention centre will resume hosting events this July.

“We’re excited to take another step toward normal,” Mayor Brad Stephens said. “It’s good for Rosemont and it’s good for Illinois.”

About 30 events, including the GASS, are slated to take place at the centre between July and the end of this year.

Convention center Executive Director Chris Stephens noted his staff will follow cleaning and disinfecting protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses during this summer’s shows.

Before the pandemic, the convention centre hosted about 70 trade shows plus another 250 meetings and other events annually.

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