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Big News: Gala Awards to pause in 2021

Gala Awards 2021 to pause

It feels good, when the world is changing so drastically, to hang onto pieces of “before COVID” as a semblance of normalcy. There’s always an awards season, we love to celebrate accomplishments, and it feels right to get dressed up and cheer for colleagues as they accept an award for their hard work and talent. We work hard, we have to play hard, too!


Because we plan our yearly conference and tradeshow (with all of its moving parts) so far in advance, The Special Event + Catersource had the ball rolling by early summer setting up our awards portal, creating art and copy for the advertisements, and building new awards categories that reflected the changing catering and events landscape.

But even seven, eight months out from the show, it started not feeling right. We began to feel that celebrating accomplishments across a playing field that has been severely damaged isn’t the right approach, at least not for 2021.

There have been some incredibly beautiful events across the world this past year—live, virtual, hybrid—most definitely deserving accolades. But not enough of them, it pains me to say. Just not enough.

What we need to celebrate in 2021 is tenacity. We need to celebrate survival. We need to celebrate the industry as a whole. We also need to mourn those businesses who won’t make it—or have already left us—due to this world-changing pandemic. 

At The Special Event + Catersource next July, we will still offer awards during our Leadership Lunch: the Michael Roman Lifetime Achievement Award; the SE Lifetime Achievement Award; the Richard Carbotti Gala Award; and the Steve Kemble Leadership Award. But the Industry Awards evening event as a whole will take a brief pause in 2021. 

One more thing: We are, however, going to leave that awards submission portal open (hang in with me here) for another year. (You read that right.) And then, when we get to 2022…only then will we close it up. The awards ceremony we host in 2022 will be a culmination of events that occurred any time after September 30, 2019 (pre-COVID), all the way through to December 31, 2021. We will also be changing some of the categories to reflect circumstances, solutions, and charitable endeavors.

For now, let’s remember that we are all in this sea together—maybe in different boats with varying levels of ability to steer and putter forward—but we are one industry and we are #eventstrong.

See you in July. 

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