Graphics of the Americas--Flourishing In Florida
BY MARK MICHELSON
Where else in the graphic arts industry could you find an American Bald Eagle—aptly named "Booker T" after the central Florida city of Booker Town, where he was found six years ago as an injured chick—presiding over an international trade exhibition? That was just one of the attractions that drew more than 25,000 visitors to the 26th annual Graphics of the Americas trade show, which was held last month at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Booker T had an eagle-eye view perched at the Printing Association of Florida (PAF) booth during the three-day event and as the honorary host during the Graphic Arts Leaders of the Americas (GALA) awards banquet.
And for those who might question keeping such a magnificent bird in captivity, Booker T could not be returned to the wild due to his twisted beak, a result of Avian Pox, a chicken pox-like disease, and a broken shoulder that prohibits his ability to take flight, which he suffered in a fall from the nest. Cared for by the Miami Museum of Science Bird of Prey Center, Booker T's beak is routinely filed to help make it easier for him to eat.
The exhibition kicked off Friday, February 2, with the opening ceremonies and a parade featuring members of the Southwest (FL) Senior High School Eagle (what else?) Band. They carried 35 flags representing graphic arts summit countries and stood guard over the room filled with various dignitaries, including past GALA Hall of Fame inductees. A proclamation from Florida Governor Jeb Bush commemorating the period as "PAF Graphics of the Americas Week" was also presented.
Industry veteran Ike Savitt was recognized for his dedication to improving international trade within the graphic arts, and several awards were presented to various industry publications and local news organizations for their coverage of Florida's $11 billion printing, publishing and converting industry. In addition, ceremonial keys to the city of Miami Beach were given to the 2001 GALA Hall of Fame winners.