Due to significant gathering restrictions in the state of North Carolina, NGAUS is moving the 143rd General Conference & Exhibition from Charlotte, North Carolina, to a new location.
The event had been set for Sept. 9-12, 2021.
Association leaders and staff are speaking with a handful of other states to find a popular destination on or close to the originally scheduled conference dates.
Retired Brig. Gen. J. Roy Robinson said the decision to leave Charlotte was difficult and made only after lengthy discussions with North Carolina National Guard leaders.
“The North Carolina National Guard had a great event planned,” he said. “But the local restrictions make it unlikely we could provide the type of conference experience NGAUS members and guests have come to expect and deserve.
“Things could change by September, but there are too many unknowns and not enough guarantees,” Robinson added.
COVID-19 restrictions vary greatly nationwide due to the uneven impact of the virus and state and local officials’ different assessment of the risk, Robinson said.
“There are several states that are more open and safely hosting events,” he said. “We’ve already spoken to a few that are interested in hosting our conference. We’ll base our decision on available dates, the accessibility of the city, its attractions and hotel costs.”
This is the second consecutive year the original host state will not hold the conference.
Last year, the Massachusetts National Guard was unable host the event, set for Boston, due to mounting COVID-19 missions and travel and gathering restrictions.
NGAUS ended up conducting the conference virtually from the National Guard Memorial, the association headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“It was a great event — we heard from four members of Joint Chiefs of Staff and the man who is now president,” Robinson said. “But we couldn’t conduct all of our normal business. And there was little social interaction. Nothing beats an in-person conference.”
He said in his travels this year he has run into many association members eager for an in-person event.
“The Guard is family and our conference is our family reunion,” Robinson said. “I think it’s important that we meet in person every year, especially after the year we’ve all had. We have a lot to discuss. Our force needs it and so does our association.”