ReefStock 2017 will be the tenth time that I host this fun, well-rounded reef show in my hometown of Denver Colorado. I was so young and inexperienced when I put together the first ReefStock back in 2008, I can't believe that it was successful or that the show would carry on to be an annual tradition.
Back in 2008, there were much fewer reef aquarium conferences; MACNA had had a few rocky years, IMAC had recently shuttered, but new events were beginning to sprout up. The Midwest Frag Fest and SaltwaterU were great new shows started up in Indiana and Atlanta respectively, and they showed just how enthusiastic reefers were about getting together for frags, speakers and generally good times.
At the time the professionals and hobbyists were very poorly connected, there were no reefing blogs, no Reef Builders, no Reef2Reef, and Facebook hadn't yet exploded as a news hub in pop culture. Needless to say, it was an uphill battle to get enough companies to even consider doing the first ReefStock. Nevertheless, I was hoping for 100 people to come to the first ReefStock and was floored when more than 200 people showed up (225 to be exact).
Today there are reef aquarium events all over the country, sometimes several each weekend. Despite their sheer numbers, very few events stand head and shoulders above the rest. But there's no question that professional events like ReefAPalooza, MACNA and ReefStock have become world famous for delivering the best of what reefers want, and less of what they don't.
We've done some fun things at ReefStock over the years, including aquascaping competitions, awesome reef tank tours, and communal frag tanks for local reefers. We even had an LED lighting EXPO in 2010 back when the new technology was quite primitive, and we look how far we've come now. But the core fundamentals of ReefStock has always been bringing in the best Live Coral Frag vendors, advanced aquarium companies, the best speakers, and a sprawling raffle of aquarium prizes.
The essence of ReefStock has always been to have a regional show with international reach. The synergy between Reef Builders, exciting corals, new products, and ReefStock has definitely helped the prestige of the show. Of course we're lucky that Colorado has a a very long history of aquarium reefing, so there's always been lots of local companies and advanced aquarists to help with ReefStock.
In addition to still being a very fun show for both attendees and organizers, the most gratifying part of the show is the effect on the local reef scene. The local reef aquarium stores and community are all much more energized because of it, and ReefStock is now a local aquarium tradition where we can all plan to catch up with each other at least once a year.
It's been an absolute honor to work with the local community to keep organizing such an essential part of our local reefing hobby. I hope to see as many of you at ReefStock 2017, February 25th & 26th, as possible. We're going to have another amazing event for our tenth year, and I can't imagine where the hobby will be another ten years from now.