Indianapolis Midwest Reptile Show


Driving the short bus....
Well, I attended this event yesterday on the 28th of August, 2005 with my 5 year old son. This was a rather unique experience as it was my first reptile show to ever attend. I know several on this board have attended this show in the past and I thought I would give my perspective on it as well.

We arrived around 10 am at the start of the show. There was a line of approximately 30 people waiting to get in. Upon entry I was impressed with the layout. Despite the 200+ people in the room the traffic was not too unmanageable. The place was well lit and the air conditioning was very nice. I was able to see some animals that I had not had the chance to view previously such as a pied BP (beautiful animal!) as well as some larger lizards for my son's viewing pleasures.

Now, with the pro's out of the way let me tell you what my specific gripes are.

1) Why do the attendee's (not vendors) believe this is a petting zoo? I could not count the number of people that were walking around with large boa's and pythons drapped across their necks! People were wearing bearded dragons as though they were broaches or a fashion accessory! If you want to do this BEHIND your stand then so be it. At one point, I turned around only to see the head of a 7 foot burmese about 12 inches from my son's face! He of course thought it was cool but it scared the dickins out of me! That would have been one dead snake and a severely wounded person had that animal grabbed my son not to mention a rather large bill for the organizers!

2) Why did the majority of the vendors dress up like they were going to a biker rally? No offense to those of you with ink (I have ink as well) but if I am going to operate a business at a professional trade show then I am going to make certain that I dress like one. There were a few booths where my son and I had to leave because the vendor had gone several days without bathing. A few of the vendors had ripped pants/shirts but yet somehow expect me to drop $5000 on an animal. I was amazed at the lack of professional business sense most of these guys have.

3) If you want to be treated as a professional then act like one. There was one booth in particular that I had to yank my son from because he was talking about how he would rip the head off of a snake and SH#$ down it's neck if it ever bit him. I am not a prude and I am not an overly protective father, but I do not understand why people think it is ok to speak like this at a professional event LET ALONE IN FRONT OF A 5 YEAR OLD CHILD! And to answer your question before you ask it, yes, he knew my son was standing there as we had just conversed with him.

Anyways, I am going to email this response to the organizers of the event. The insurance liability that this show as well as ANY show represents is staggering if there are not better controls put in place on the petting zoo aspect. I can tell you as the President and CEO of an insurance consulting firm that I would not, I repeat, I would NOT insure an event like this.

I will be attending the Tinley Park show and I most certainly hope that it is ran differently then the Indy show. Will I go back to the Indy show? Probably, but most certainly not with my children. The risk is too great.

Don't you think you're being a tad over-reactive? If people were walking around with cobras I could see your point. I say that if you don't like how a show is run, don't cry about...start your own show. ;)
I have not

been to the Indy show for about 8 years, but the last time i went, it was pretty descent, there were some vendors that might have not been too professional looking, but overall it was a great show. I loved the price on feeders compared to here in Arizona. I was paying a dollar for a jumbo rat, and here they are 8 dollars at the Arizona reptile center, so i breed all my own now LOL!!! My two cents worth. Mike Leonard :cool:
I think

Brian tries pretty hard to run a good show. The vendors are from every "walk" of life and it shows. You have full time breeders, importers, hobbyists who produce and sell just their few favorite herps. One vendor may have $400 worth of cornsnakes on their table, the next may have $100,000 worth of Bp's. I know some of the vendors work a night shift at a regular job before they come to display their animals. I know a lot of them, and they all have a very different story to tell, in general they are all good people.
I think the people who bring their large reptile to the show, whether it is an 8' burm or a 6' Nile monitor are "showing off," they are proud of their pet, and want everyone to be able to enjoy it also. I saw the largest "inland" beardie I have ever seen on Sunday, he was probably about 22" long and weighed over 2lbs, very nice color also (yellow). He was awesome and he brought his owner to the show to buy crickets. I have been setting up at several show each month for about 4 yrs. and I seldom see anyone get bit, I do not think I have seen anyone get bit by a snake they were not holding, but you are right that it is possible and owners should exercise more care when children are present.
You should have stopped by and said "Hi".
i agree with davidbeard on this one ... you are most assuredly having an overreaction here ... what did you expect to see at a REPTILE show ??? brian and jason do their best to present a quality monthly show .. and although i have never attended ( i live in the sunny south ) i know them well enough to say that their efforts benefit everyone in indy .... don't hesitate to go back ... but next time ... make sure your son is aware of the fact that there may be animals around .....
I've been going to the Indy show for the last couple of years and I've been a vendor a couple of times....and I can attest that the animals have far more to fear from the kids at the show than vice versa. I can't tell you how many times I've seen some brat walk up to a table and start knocking stuff over or re-arranging displays...the animals don't need to be controlled, its the kids who need to be leashed!
Sorry guys, but I completely disagree. Our hobby is undergoing a lot of additional scrutiny and will continue to do so until we, as a group, decide to step up our efforts to become a more acceptable part of the community. Draping a 7 foot burmese around your neck and walking around like it is a neck tie is absolutely unacceptable today. These people were not in the least bit wary of where the animals head was etc. What type of publicity do you think this event would have received if that animal bit my son and I had to pummel the owner? I am not a violent individual but if something bit my son due to the negligence of the owner then you had better believe there is going to be some recourse. What are the organizers going to do if that burmese was to puncture my sons eye during the bite and he lost his vision? You had better believe your ass I will sue them. I guarantee you that their liability insurance has NO idea that this type of behavior is going on. I guarantee it.

The public already views our hobby as a rogue one that typically only tattooed laden bikers participate in. Even though you and I both know better we have to show the public that we are not only responsible but that we also take this hobby seriously. In order to accomplish this we have to step up our appearance and behaviors to that in which the public deems appropriate. Do I intend to imply that we need to bow down to all public perceptions? Absolutely not, but I am implying that we have to find a happy median. Is it too hard to throw on some deoderant and a clean shirt? Is it really too hard to shave? Is it really too hard to enforce a policy of not allowing the public to bring in wild animals? Nope, none of those issues are difficult to apply and they will go a long with public perception.

Lastly, I do not mean to imply that the organizers have done a poor job. As I stated, I will most certainly come back as there were some quality vendors there with some amazing animals. However, the first time the public becomes aware of an accident etc due to the negligence of a customer you had better believe that we will earn some scrutiny that we do not need.

I actually agree with the author of the thread. I think there are already alot of problems with conusmer perception of the reptile industry. It is a very crowded show and I think that walking around with giant snakes around your neck isn't a good idea. Besides the liability issues, it is not good for the snake. The whole contagious disease issue and stress placed on the snake are not good. I am sick of animals (including dogs) being used a fashion accesories. I know everyone wants to show off their snakes but wouldn't it be better to carry pictures instead?

Also I think that yes soem vendors could afford to look a little more professional. I have been a vendor at this show and others, and while I may not dress up, I do shower before hand, LOL. The language can be very offensive towards children at times, and many vendors attitudes towards children is driving families away from these shows. Yes it can be frustrating to sit and talk to a child for an hour when you have better things to do or it sucks when they start grabbing your animals. I try to tell the children not to grab things and if I am not busy will take one of my tamer animals for them to see and hold. I have a 3 year old so I guess I am a little more tolerant of children, this pays off in sales since many people have bought there first herp from me and come back for more. Even as someone who is knowledgeable about herps, I have found many vendors attitudes to be offensive. The ones that just glare at you while you look at their animals or act like they don't want to answer your questions. If you don't like selling at the shows, then don't go. You can sell your animals online or through other avenues.
bgexotics said:
I have found many vendors attitudes to be offensive. The ones that just glare at you while you look at their animals or act like they don't want to answer your questions. If you don't like selling at the shows, then don't go. You can sell your animals online or through other avenues.

Thank you! They act like the guys who work at comic book or role palying game stores.
The past NARBC shows I've gone to in Chicago are really professional and nicely set up. You will probably like it.
Well, I will be attending the Tinley park show here in a month and I have my hopes up that they have tighter controls put in place.

The Tinley Park show is awesome. Very professional....they do not allow you to bring animals into the show, so you won't have to worry about your children being mauled by any Burmese Pythons. I'll be attending also...I am looking forward to it very eagerly.
That is good to hear David. I appreciate knowing that as I was debating as to whether to bring my 6 year old or not.