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IFAI Expo: The industry in person

Features | September 1, 2021 | By:

Celebrate textile innovation—in person!—at IFAI Expo, the leading show in the textile industry for sourcing, education and networking. Join thousands of industry stakeholders on the show floor, in valuable education sessions and at long-awaited social gatherings. Reconnect with your industry and celebrate the 100th in-person IFAI Expo and the return of doing business face to face.

For the full schedule, show floor map, exhibitors list and all of the most up-to-date information, click here.

Optimism, Laughter and ‘the Great Bounce-back Factor’

Motivational speaker and “attitude adjuster” Steve Rizzo will headline IFAI Expo 2021 as the keynote (see page 47) on the opening morning of the association’s annual event, sharing his common-sense success strategies that will take listeners to better places in their businesses and their lives. Here’s a preview:

Q: You share a message about the power of optimism. How has that message carried you through the pandemic?

A: Optimism is a discipline. Some people are more optimistic than others, but everyone can learn to be optimistic. It’s a matter of what you are focusing on. When this pandemic hit, you could either use all your energy to wallow in the problem, which is what a lot of people do because they panic, or you could use that energy and transmute it and try to find solutions to the problem. That’s exactly what I did. This pandemic hit my business like it did everyone else. A lot of agents went out of business, a lot of speakers went out of business. A lot of people didn’t know what to do. All of a sudden, people were going to video presentations, which I knew nothing about, but I learned immediately. There is nothing more empowering than when you embrace change and do what needs to be done. 

Q: Why is laughter such a key part of your message?

A: I believe laughter is the pit stop in the rat race of life, and it gives you enough emotional fuel and repairs to get you back into the race again. The initiative and the proficiency by which we allow ourselves to laugh comes from what I call your “humor-being.” I believe your humor-being is of your higher nature. Everyone has one; it’s the part of you that brings out the best in you when times get tough. What your humor-being can give you more than anything else is piece of mind and emotional stability. I also call it “the great bounce-back factor.” 

Q: What do you hope the IFAI Expo audience takes away from your presentation?

A: These are the three things I know they will walk away with: 

  1. You are the creator of your success and happiness. Period.  
  2. You are the only problem that you will ever have. Somewhere within you there is always, always, a solution waiting to be discovered. 
  3. Whenever you are confronted with a problem or a challenge of any kind, including the pandemic, it’s never a matter of managing the situation; it’s always a matter of how you manage your mind. 

The opening keynote is included in all registration packages and is open to all attendees and exhibitors.

Expand your IFAI Expo Experience

Whether you are a regular attendee of IFAI Expo or this is your first time joining us, get familiar with highlights happening this year in Nashville.

2021 Highlights


The afternoon of Monday, Nov. 1, is dedicated to the Advanced Textiles field. Beginning with an open plenary and lunch, choose from a dozen 50-minute classroom sessions in three tracks: Innovations in E-Textiles, Medical Textile Breakthroughs and Sustainability in Advanced Textiles. The day ends with a networking reception. Want more advanced textiles education? Nov. 2–3 will feature five additional classroom hours on advanced manufacturing in textiles and COVID-19-related topics.


Source fabric, equipment, manufacturers and referrals on the show floor. The Advanced Textiles and Specialty Fabrics areas feature more than 250 exhibitors.


A CPAE Hall of Fame speaker and former national headliner comedian, Steve Rizzo knows how to captivate and inspire. He engages the audience with laughter as he gradually challenges them to SHIFT their way of thinking to discover increased productivity, greater joy and enthusiasm and new levels of success.


Join fresh, informative and interactive sessions on the show floor—nearly 30 over the course of three days.


Mix and mingle with the winners of the 2021 IFAI awards at an interactive breakfast presentation.


Work directly with top industry experts on the show floor.


Choose from a variety of education formats that promise to give you valuable knowledge and insight through more than 30 hours of classroom sessions.


After the show floor closes, keep the energy going by networking with industry peers. Enjoy drinks and appetizers as we celebrate IFAI Expo’s 100th birthday!


Visit the demo area for live demonstrations of techniques used in the manufacture of backpacks.


A half day to close out your IFAI Expo experience, the summit includes an engaging keynote by architect Nic Goldsmith, followed by a “State of the Industry” panel specific to fabric structures in architecture and an hour of roundtable discussions focused on critical issues in the industry. The summit closes with a networking reception.

Experience the Advanced Textiles Conference at IFAI Expo

The Advanced Textiles (AT) Conference starts on Monday, Nov. 1, with an afternoon dedicated to advanced textiles education, including a welcome lunch with a plenary session at 11:30 a.m., followed by a networking reception after the education for the day concludes at 5 p.m. The AT Conference continues with morning advanced textiles sessions on Nov. 2–3. Choose from 18 classroom sessions, 50 minutes each, that will cover content in these tracks: Innovations in Wearables/E-Textiles, Medical Textile Breakthroughs, Industry 4.0/Advanced Manufacturing, and Sustainability in Advanced Textiles.

An All Access registration is required to attend the Advanced Textiles Conference. The registration also includes three days of show floor access and campfire education, keynote speaker, opening reception, awards and networking breakfast, and all industry classroom education.

View all Advanced Textiles education at

Campfire Sessions

Experience free informal discussions on the show floor. Plan to attend as many sessions as possible.

View the full list at

*Schedules are subject to change

Topics include


  • Integrated Design and Production Solutions for Industrial Fabrics
  • The U.S. Supply Chain Challenges in Providing PPE during COVID-19
  • Small Parts Can Offer Big Savings
  • Navigating the World of ASTM Standards
  • Multifunctional Protective Fabrics with Antiviral and Water-Repellant Properties
  • 5 Key Strategies to Reduce Shipping Expenses
  • Textiles Analysis: Models and Analysis Compared to Real-World Testing


  • Fabric Shade Structures vs. Alternative Methods
  • Shade Sail Clinic
  • Fabric Awnings and Metal Canopies: How They Work Together
  • PAMA’s Energy Savings Calculator
  • Choosing the Right Fabric for Your Shade Sails Project
  • Integrated Sustainability in Building Structures
  • Demystifying Flame-Retardant Specifications, Standards and Testing for Architectural Shade Fabric


  • The Textiles Industry and DLA’s Industrial Base Program
  • The Influence of Textile Characteristics and Pre-Treatment on Print Quality in Inkjet Printing
  • Pivoting on a Dime in a Time of Crisis
  • Antimicrobials and Durable Coated Fabrics
  • Textile-Based Sensors for Inspection of Composite Materials
  • E-Textiles Trivia Game Show

Special Events at IFAI Expo

In addition to doing business on the show floor and sharpening your knowledge through education, IFAI Expo offers numerous special events for networking. Familiarize yourself with all the special events.

*Unless otherwise noted, all activities take place at the Music City Center.

IFAI Expo Opening Reception

Tuesday, Nov. 2 | 5–6:30 pm

Included in all registration packages. Open to all attendees and exhibitors.

After the show floor closes, keep the energy and conversations going at the Opening Reception onsite at the Music City Center Exhibit Hall Concourse. Before you start your evening in Nashville, join attendees and exhibitors for drinks and appetizers steps from the show floor.

Downtown Nashville Fun Run/Walk

Tuesday, Nov. 2 | 6:45 am

Location: Meet at Omni Nashville entrance

Tickets required. Member $25, nonmember $35.

IFAI’s annual Fun Run/Walk is back, with a twist! Participants will be split into small groups of 8-10 and taken on a morning fun run or walk through downtown Nashville, passing important cultural and tourist sites along the way.

Pet a Puppy

Support two great causes as the Industrial Fabrics Foundation (IFF) and Agape Rescue of Nashville join forces for one adorable show floor experience. Adoptable dogs and puppies will be visiting IFAI Expo, and cuddles are for sale. All proceeds will go to support these two great organizations.

Keynote Speaker: Steve Rizzo 

Drilling for optimism! Tapping into our most valuable natural resource

Tuesday, Nov. 2 | 8:30 am

Even amid a worldwide pandemic, opportunities don’t disappear; they simply manifest in new and different ways. Optimism is the key to being able to recognize these opportunities when they arise. This program examines the real power of optimism as a currency that creates storm-weathering attitudes and allows the flexibility to identify alternate routes to success—even in this challenging climate. Only the optimistic survive, and Steve delivers the common-sense success strategies necessary for tapping into the positive reserves within each of us. Prepare to dig deep and learn why Steve is known affectionately as the “Attitude Adjuster.”

Included in all registration packages. Open to all attendees and exhibitors.

Industry Night

Tuesday, Nov. 2 | 6:30–9 pm (Band begins at 7 pm)

Location: Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint

Tickets required. Member $59, nonmember $79. The option to buy multiple tickets to invite colleagues or clients is also available.

Make your first night at IFAI Expo a lively, fun-filled experience! Support a good cause and enjoy an evening of great food, great conversation and great music by IFAI’s house band, Hangin’ By a Thread! Industry Night takes place at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, a five-minute walk from the Music City Center.

Awards and Networking Breakfast 

Wednesday, Nov. 3 | 8:30–9:45 am

Included in All Access and Expo Plus registration. Requires add-on purchase to a Show Floor Only registration.
Member $39, nonmember $59.

Mix and mingle with the winners of the 2021 IFAI awards. Enjoy breakfast, awards presentation, lively emcees and an awesome opportunity to network and celebrate outstanding work in the industrial fabrics industry.

 Fabric Structures Summit

Thursday, Nov. 4 | 1–5 pm

Tickets required. Member $89, nonmember $119.

A half day to close out your IFAI Expo experience, the summit will include an engaging keynote by architect Nic Goldsmith, followed by a “State of the Industry” panel specific to fabric structures in architecture and an hour of roundtable discussions focused on critical issues in the industry. Closes with a networking reception.  For more, visit

Demo Area

Tuesday, Nov. 2 & Wednesday, Nov. 3 | 10:30 am–2 pm
Thursday, Nov. 4 | 11 am–1 pm

Visit the Demo Area to see live demonstrations of techniques used in the manufacture of backpacks. Located near the IFAI Hub. 

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