Are children allowed in the Show?
No. No one under the age of 16 (including infants and toddlers) is allowed on the floor at any time. Please Note: This rule is strictly enforced and there are no exceptions to this policy. ID may be requested if the age of an individual is in question. (NRA FAQ section)
For 65 consecutive years, the National Restaurant Association held its annual trade show in Chicago. The show rarely, if ever, engendered controversy. Until this year.
The Chicago Tribune reported on the travails of a breastfeeding mother, Kristen Osborne, from Minnesota. Ms. Osborne brought her ten day old nursing infant to the show.
According to the Chicago Tribune Kristen Osborne was asked to leave the show. The rules state that no one under sixteen years of age is allowed in the show.
Ms. Osborne was "invited" to the show to promote her family winery and to pour wine. If that is the case, she would be working behind the bar. Illinois law is quite clear. No one under the age of 21 is allowed behind a bar. Not even breastfeeding infants of bar owners.
The article received a backlash in the comments section, social media, and various blogs, both in support of and against Ms. Osborne. Many of the comments and posts were of the typical silly, lynch mob mentality of social media.
Ms. Osborne knew the rule was in place. She felt an exception should have been made due to the breastfeeding issue.
This kerfuffle is much ado about nothing. There is no controversy, except the shaming or support of Ms. Osborne by social media lynch mobs.
The National Restaurant Association has every right to make rules regarding entry to their show. Those rules may be made in conjunction with the venue, McCormick Place, and applicable laws.
For example, you had to be 21-years-old to enter the International Wine and Spirits Event. Every single person who entered was carded, even journalists and senior citizens. If you did not have ID, you did not get in. No one complained.
We are fast becoming a society that seeks exceptions to rules. We refuse to accept rules apply to us. We seek the loophole. When told the rule is the rule, we seek the limelight, the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. We call the press or engage the lynch mobs on social media.
The National Restaurant Association has every right to formulate and enforce their rules without exception. There is no right to participate in the NRA show. It is a private event. If allowed by the NRA to participate, whether as a vendor, attendee, journalist, or whatever, you must abide by the rules.
Once exceptions are made the rules may as well be thrown out the window. The NRA stood their ground as they should have. They owe no apology. Ms. Osborne, right or wrong, took her issue to the media. It did not get her into the show. It did get her 15 minutes of fame. It did generate much discussion from the tin foil hats, angry birds, and lynch mobs on social media.
Ms. Osborne was not denied "networking or learning opportunities". She learned an important lesson. The rules apply to everyone.
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