Circle April 16-17, 2004 and May 21-22, 2004 on your calendar. Those are the dates of the Radiant Panel Association's (RPA) Great Lakes RadFest in Madison, WI and the Rocky Mountain RadFest in Loveland, CO. Not exactly trade shows, and not exactly conferences; these events are radiant get-togethers hosted by the RPA for radiant enthusiasts to gather and share the excitement of the rapidly growing industry. Contractors, builders, installers, designers, architects, engineers, suppliers, and others interested in radiant heating are all invited to attend. RadFest is a two-day celebration of radiant technology.

Rather than one large annual trade show, the idea behind the RadFest concept is built on hosting several smaller regional shows that are less formal than the major national shows. By holding several regional RadFests every year located throughout the country, RPA hopes to appeal to those less inclined or unable to travel cross-country to attend a national event such as ISH-NA. It will give local contractors, reps, and distributors a chance to network and catch up on new products and installation techniques. It will also give the RPA a chance to showcase many of its successful local chapters. While out-of-region attendees are certainly invited, the RPA's goal is to bring this event to multi-state regions. The Great Lakes RadFest is expected to draw primarily from the upper Midwest, while the Rocky Mountain RadFest will serve the Western Plain and Mountain states. No doubt many others will travel long distances to share the experience with radiant enthusiasts of like mind.

There are plenty of activities planned to keep attendees busy for two days. RadFest will offer the popular Radiant Basics and Radiant Precision full-day schools as well as the RPA Certification Exams. A tradeshow with displays of the latest radiant products will be presented with over 60 booths, but don't expect to see aisles lined with large elaborate exhibits. This trade show caters to the guy working in the field and is more about one-on-one real-world installation challenges.

Suppliers, manufacturers, and RPA Chapters will host "Pit Stops" featuring educational seminars, classes, product demonstrations, question and answer sessions, and even radiant related games. A schedule of these events will be posted and updated on the RPA website as they develop.

There will also be discussion tables that will be a free-form exchange of information and ideas. If you have a radiant question, bring it to the table and someone will surely have an answer. Share your good ideas and installation techniques with your fellow contractors. People always seem to walk away from these types of discussion tables with more than they brought to the table.

RPA is excited about this new concept of RadFest. For those of you burned out on the traditional tradeshow routine, this event will surely be a change of pace. And it is affordable; tickets are $20 at the door, $10 from the RPA website, or free from a participating RPA member. (Full day schools and exams are extra and require pre-registration.) Check out the RPA website (www.RPAconference.com) for details, exhibitor information, schedules and registration.