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It's On! Join us in Miami Beach for The Special Event 2021

The Special Event is going to be live and in-person July 19-22 in Miami Beach.

Since 1985, The Special Event has served as an educational resource and expansive network for the special events industry. As we work our way through one of the toughest times in its history, the need to gather and learn from one another, network, and celebrate is important! Join The Special Event, co-located with Catersource, as we celebrate the rise of this resilient industry!

Don’t miss a moment! Arrive Monday afternoon 7/19, depart Friday morning 7/23

When making your travel arrangements, plan to arrive by Monday afternoon so that you can enjoy the entire Catersource + The Special Event experience! 

Kick off your week by attending Connect Live, held at Hard Rock Miami, starting at 7:30 p.m. and ending at 10:30 p.m. End your week by joining us at the Closing Night Party—An Industry Celebration. In between, you won’t want to miss a thing. 

Here’s a look at all that will be offered!

Revolutionary keynote & featured speakers

If there was ever a year to gain a fresh perspective and new ideas, it’s 2021! A diverse line up of featured speakers include cake genius to the stars Ron Ben-Israel; Event Executive Director Christina Matteucci; D&I experts, Dima
and Shakira Brown; the ever-popular Michael Cerbelli, celebrating the 20th anniversary of his The Hot List™; designer of celebrations David Tutera; VP of Catering Sales for Wolfgang Puck, Barbara Brass; CEO/Creative Director, AOO Events, David Merrell and more!

On the opening day of the tradeshow floor, join futurist Pablos Holman for his opening general session keynote, but don’t be late—the session will open with a love letter to the catering and events industries.

As the keynote concludes, join vendors on the tradeshow floor for a day of product exploration, or stay in your seats: the annual Catersource Diced competition begins at 10:30!

Diversity & Inclusion

The social unrest from the past year not only provided the impetus for real change, but it has also prompted reflection into the need for a more meaningful balance of diversity and equality within our industries, events included. These shifts in the industry’s foundation will grow as we make our way through 2021, and The Special Event is poised to help you with these transitions and conversations.

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Diversity & Inclusion will be a popular topic of discussion during The Special Event + Catersource as the events industry continues its reflection into the need for a more meaningful workforce balance, which in turn has led to increased discussions on how to transition into more equality-focused business.

A fight for social justice saw Black Lives Matter movements launch once more in countries across the globe, creating urgency in the discussion about equality. Going forward, businesses will need to be intentional and genuine with their commitment to diversity and how they present their brand to the market. And The Special Event has you covered.

Beyond D&I experts Dima Ghawi and Shakira Brown, The Special Event will have a full slate of sessions this year focused on diversity and inclusion, including: “Designing Inclusive Events” with  Pawntra Shadab; “Diversity and Inclusion: Making Everyone Feel Welcome” with Kathleen Zemaitis; and “Diversity and Inclusion Shine Through” with Amanda Ma

Co-located conference Catersource will also have a few D&I sessions on tap, which an All Access Pass can get you in to. Those sessions are: “Are You Tokenizing? How to Genuinely Market to LGBTQ+ Clients” with Brittny Drye; and “The JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) Lifestyle: A Discussion” with Jamie Quickert, Greg DeShields and Brian Green.

Candid conversations

Always a favorite at Catersource, Candid Conversations have now been added to The Special Event. Candid Conversation sessions are free-wheeling “unsessions”—no set agenda or Powerpoint presentations; just an industry professional at the front of the room, ready to answer your questions about topics they excel at. Bring culinary questions to Food Network stars Ron Ben-Israel and Emily Ellyn; ask David Tutera the burning design question you’ve always wanted answered; Meryl Snow and Kate Patay will be available to talk marketing and sales, and more. Your questions, their answers. The learning is fun and organic; these sessions are often identified as some of the most popular, year after year.

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By walking the tradeshow floor, attendees can see the latest products ranging from florals to entertainment to rental companies.

Discover ideas on the tradeshow floor

The award-winning traeshow floor will offer a plethora of trendsetting and relevant exhibitors and sponsors for you to browse, learn from, and buy from. These exhibitors are here to help you grow your business and recognize the potential you have for 2021 and beyond. Additionally, a culinary competition and the excitement of the Opening General Session with keynote Pablos Holman, Michael Cerbelli’s: The Hot List™ on Thursday morning, and Closing Session with keynote David Tutera.

Industry accolades: award recipients

Each year, we honor industry leaders who we, at The Special Event + Catersource, feel have made a significant and positive impact on our industries. Join us in celebrating remarkable individuals at our annual Leadership
on Thursday, July 22


First—start your experience in gratitude by enjoying the music of four-time Grammy award winner Tomasito Cruz, who will blend his international flair of ChaChaCha, Son, Rumba, Afro, Timba, Guaracha, Pilon and Bolero to give this event a burst of lively Cuban flavor. Next, learn leadership skills from keynote Christina Matteucci, Executive Director at David Beahm Experiences. Enjoy a beautiful lunch with your colleagues and peers, and finally, celebrate with recipients Roy Porter (Michael Roman Lifetime Achievement award); Robin Selden (Carbotti award) and Connie Riley (Special Events Gala Lifetime Achievement award), as well as the surprise award recipient of the Steve Kemble award.

Networking opportunities

Beyond the evening events, pass time has been increased between sessions to allow more time to say hello and move between tradeshow floor and conference rooms. Most sessions allow 30 minutes pass time. There is a one-hour break for lunch in the conference area each day as well.

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Networking is the key to any successful conference.Last year’s Opening General Session even focused on it.

Earn education credits

Continuing education is an important aspect of any career trajectory and Catersource + The Special Event is ready to help.

All classes have been approved for CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) credits

Go to “Associations & Accreditations” on the left-hand rail on and sort to find what you need!   

See you in Miami! 

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