‘One of the staff pulled a gun!’ EFTTEX pioneer Caroline Thomas remembers the show’s early days
Caroline Thomas, one of the pioneers behind EFTTA and its EFTTEX show, has said a sad farewell to the industry after almost 40 years.
Thomas was among a small group of people responsible for setting up the Association and its show in 1982 and has attended all 38 shows since. She was General Manager of EFTTEX from the inaugural show until 2002.
“I am grateful to Angling International for giving me this opportunity to bid farewell to my many friends and colleagues in the fishing tackle trade, built up since I, together with Mike Duckworth, Christophe Viellard, Hans von Keller and other original Board members, were instrumental in setting up EFTTA and EFTTEX.
“At meetings held in 1980 and 1981 at the SPOGA show, it was heartening to see the trade’s enthusiasm for running its own association and trade show. The ethos from the outset was that this would be an association and exhibition for all companies in the European region.”
Thomas recalls that EFTTA and EFTTEX were originally managed by the UK’s Angling Trade Association and over those first few years the show quickly developed into a highly respected international event for the trade. For a brief time it was managed by the Dutch Pet Trade Association and survived the threat of closure when that body had to close.
“Fortunately my company, Resolutions, was on hand to rescue it and between March and June of 1988 we picked up the pieces and EFTTEX sailed successfully on,” Thomas explains.
“Over the following years we enhanced EFTTA’s support of the trade by establishing connections with other related international associations and created our European lobbying arm to influence and protect the trade from adverse legislation.”
Caroline sold her company to Janet Doyle in 2002, but continued to work at all the subsequent shows. Then just two weeks ago, EFTTA CEO Olivier Portrat announced that the Association’s board had decided to end the long connection with Resolutions.
“Naturally I am sad to see that relationship finish,” says Thomas. “But I am sure that the Board and the Sub-group have got plans in place to rebuild the experience and knowledge that Resolutions contributed and to continue running the Association and an exhibition. I shall be sorry not to see you all next June having been involved with every show since the beginning, but I wish all exhibitors and visitors the very best for the future and for the continued success of the trade.”
CAROLINE THOMAS’S STAND-OUT SHOWS
Birmingham 1982 “The first EFTTEX and, of course, the most nerve-wracking. There was a huge sigh of relief when our mailing efforts brought in enough visitors and the show worked.”
Amsterdam 1988 “We had to take over the whole show in March and run it in June. I still recall arriving for the build-up to see the EFTTEX name in huge letter on the outside of the hall – spelt with two Fs and one T!”
Amsterdam 1990 “We were in an old hall. It rained and the roof leaked!”
Berlin 1992 “Only a couple of years after the wall came down. We instituted the casting pool to draw visitors through the show and give the growing fly sector recognition.”
Geneva 1995 “In a heatwave. The only air conditioning was in the organiser’s office, so we felt very guilty.”
Milan 2002 “Security was so strict that one of the Italian exhibition hall staff pulled a gun on a visitor selling in the aisles!”