RMAF 2021 Cancelled… Forever

That RMAF 2021 is cancelled comes as no surprise. Stereophile, the largest and, one could say, most level-headed trade magazine, bowing out last week and announcing that they were not going to be able to cover RMAF this year due to the continued surge in COVID was a sign that we weren’t the only ones looking with alarm at the news of hospitalizations and the graphs tracking the infection rates. Indoor shows being cancelled like this is smart – it is a barrier that protects good people from the ravages of the biological civil war being waged out there.

The “forever” though? But perhaps not so surprising either. As I understand it, the Denver Tech Center Marriott, where the show was held at up until the last show, was not as hospitable after their yet-another-remodel as before. And, knowing Marjorie, the Hyatt next door, which served overflow exhibits in years past, must have also not been as welcoming as they could have been. The current hotel, being much more expensive, way the heck out of Denver at DIA, with the exhibit rooms being so spread out, was, by all accounts, an imperfect solution in 2019. All to say, RMAF didn’t have a real home (hotel) these last few years.

But “forever forever”? I fully expect the gauntlet to be picked up by another industry stalwart and RMAF to live again… someday. I am sure that the RMAF-to-be will have the support and benefit from the significant experience of everyone who was involved with the RMAF-that-is-no-more. Including us.

Audio Federation grew up with RMAF. We exhibited at the first 9 shows or so, usually in one of the larger rooms upstairs. Little ole us, exhibitors! We met many lifelong friends those first few years. It was the first and only show we had exhibited at for many years [only later to exhibit at T.H.E. Show and CES, etc etc etc]. Part of us, Neli and I, dies along with the end of Al and Marjorie’s show. As we all age, we all see landmarks of our childhood disappear in a poof of “what was” smoke. We can both relish and treasure the memories and mourn their passing at the same time. No, the memories weren’t all rosy, but they were all certainly passionate and exciting and heartfelt expressions of that Audiophile Craziness.

Thank you, Marjorie, for carrying on the show after Al. It must have been simultaneously wonderful and hellish and so many other things those first few years. But you kept the tenuous local community together and became one of the best people in the world at running these kinds of shows and one of the most important people in the evolution of our little Industry [ such as it is 🙂 ].  Neli and I wish you our very best – and hope to see you lurking at the shows again…. after this awful Storm passes.

We are deeply saddened to report the following from RMAF: A year and a half ago, our hearts were aching as we made the hard decision to cancel our 2020 show. Back then, we somehow imagined that as a country, we could band together and transcend COVID-19, and our lives could return to normal. We hoped we could ride out a year in isolation and emerge healthy and ready to gather again. Here at RMAF, we spent the year improving our business by producing new room layouts with all the outlets marked, and created a handbook to guide exhibitors as they learned yet again to navigate their exhibitor accounts. We imagined ourselves enthusiastically greeting our audio industry friends in a few weeks, and we’ve held onto that dream in spite of our nervous fears and scary news reports.

Even though some parts of the United States are fully open, the number of people contracting the virus, and the number of deaths attributed to it are still rising, and the CDC is projecting an even more deadly Lambda wave this fall. We are frightened on behalf of our friends in the audio industry on many levels. The very worst thing that we can envision is for someone to fall ill because they came to our show, whether as an exhibitor, a journalist, an attendee, or a volunteer. Good health is a precious gift, and we are learning that although recovery is possible, the residual effects of COVID-19 and its variants can be profound, and we are unwilling to risk even one case. Up until now, we have held onto the possibility that our October show could be produced as planned. After reading and listening to the news concerning the Coronavirus pandemic, and watching the cancellation of numerous other shows, we no longer hold that hope. In spite of our initial optimism, we have read and listened to all of your thoughtful comments and then looked at the numbers and made the difficult decision to cancel RMAF 2021.

As is our policy, RMAF will be issuing refunds to those exhibitors who have made payments for their rooms. We understand that in times such as these, finances can be a delicate balance, so you may expect to see your refund within the next 7 to 10 business days.

This has been a wrenching decision, and along with it comes the added impact of deciding that we are no longer able to envision RMAF as our hearts delight. RMAF was our founder Al Stiefel’s dream, and we’ve done our best to nurture his vision for 12 years, along with help from the Colorado Audio Society and all our volunteers from around the world. Now, we are off to new adventures! And so it is with both sadness and anticipation for the future, we announce that the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest as we have all known it will be no more. It has been our very great pleasure to have served this community of audio professionals. We have learned so much from you! Thank you for 17 years of friendship and support. It has meant more than you can possibly imagine. 

We offer you our heartiest wishes for good health and great happiness.

Your Friends,
Marjorie Baumert and Marcie Miller
Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest