I was lucky to have gone to the Aquatic Experience Chicago (actually in Schaumburg) for the last two years now. I met aquarists from around the world with all different interests and specialties ranging from saltwater reefs to freshwater snail species. There were also a few aquascaping competitions that specifically sparked my interest!
A description from their website: "Aquatic Experience – Chicago combines everything aquatic under one roof at the Schaumburg Convention Center. From saltwater to freshwater with pond and aquatic animals, we have it all. Consumers and retailers are invited to join us for educational seminars and a thriving show floor filled with hobbyists from entry level to the most sophisticated aquarium keepers as well as livestock and equipment experts and the industries best and trend-setting manufacturers. Add in a bevy of high powered speakers you’ve heard of and read articles from but have not had the chance to meet in person and you’ve got a must see for any aquarist no matter what their experience level."
Founded in 1965, the International Fancy Guppy Association’s mission is to promote the enjoyment and the techniques of breeding fancy guppies to the IFGA's show standards. Below is an image showing what these standards currently are:
The IFGA had a competition at the Aquatic Experience Chicago for the best breed of fancy guppy with the following guppy contestants:
Another part of the convention that sparked my interest was the aquascaping competition
Aquatic Experience in Chicago was a fun event, its great to enjoy a hobby but exponentially greater to share it with others!