The format of the 2003 edition of CarraraMarmotec -- the 24th International Marble, Machinery and Equipment Fair set to run from June 4 to 7 in Carrara, Italy -- was recently announced by Luigi Danesi, president of Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) Carrara, and CEO Paris Mazzanti. A number of organizational and promotional aspects of CarraraMarmotec were unveiled for the natural stone industry, in addition to the exhibition itself.

The event will include displays of marble from the region as well as natural stone from throughout Italy and the world. It will also feature manufacturers of stone fabrication machinery, quarrying equipment and stone installation and maintenance products.

"In 2002, we made 3 million euros of investments (over $3 million U.S.), mainly in the improvement of the fairgrounds," said Danesi. "And we are getting ready to invest another 18 to create the perfect setting for such a great fair, [to] bring together all those who work in natural stone, processing machinery and highly-specialized services. This year, the fair will have a new entrance, a new Service Center -- covering about 1,000 square meters -- as well as permanent tunnels connecting the different halls and automatic ticket offices."

A special area of the fairgrounds will also host art shops and other arts and crafts, where statues, sculptures, design, items, mosaics and other artistic and decorative items will be on display.

In 2002, CarraraMarmotec proved itself to be an international reference fair for stone materials and machinery. It totaled 711 exhibitors, which were both producers and representatives, including 100 foreign exhibitors from 30 different countries. While 37% of the exhibitors dealt in stone materials, 55% dealt in technology and the remaining 8% in specialized equipment.

Among the foreigners, were visitors from U.S., Canada, the European Union, the Middle East and Mediterranean Africa countries. Once again, CarraraMarmotec will be hosting exhibitors from around the globe -- partly due to the worldwide promotional campaign done before the fair. In Italy, meetings with professionals in the industry were held in Sicily, Sardinia, Latium, Apulia and Veneto, to inform them about the seminars and exhibits set to take place. Similar events were also held in Iran, Brazil, Tunisia, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, China, Turkey, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Lebanon.

According to the exhibitors' statements during a poll on customer satisfaction at the 2002 exhibition, they regard it as a highly specialized event and an excellent occasion for materials and machines promotion and business transactions. The overall results also highlighted that the fair gave exhibitors a good opportunity to make highly qualified new contacts with businessmen from all over the world. The 2003 edition is set to do the same, according to show organizers.

As seen in previous years, a stone restoration exposition will be a part of this year's fair. It will be topped by a meeting on "Stone Restoration in Italy and the Rest of the World" on June 7, illustrating the "state of the art" in the field of the restoration of ancient works. Another meeting, "Ante e post lunam - splendore e ricchezza dei marmi apuani," organized by the Parco Regionale delle Alpi Apuane on June 6, will focus on the historical aspects of marble from the region.

The schedule of initiatives and meetings will also include a presentation of Stone Sector, a book containing surveys on the international trade of natural stone and technology as well as updates on stone statistics. Representatives from many foreign countries are anticipated to attend the meeting, and will have an opportunity to talk about their own stone industries in some special country presentations. A meeting on architecture by female designers who use marble in their projects is also set for the fair.

Other events include a utilities show, a charity auction, and "Materials Live on Stage," a display of gigantic blocks, covering a very large area.

Additionally, a specific area will be set up on the fairgrounds to exhibit the designs of the winners of the International Marble Architectural Awards (MAA). This year, the MAA is open to designers who have completed works in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. It is organized in close cooperation with the Italian Foreign Trade Institute (ICE) and the regional agency Toscana Promozione, which is working with IMM to give more prominence to the valuable relation existing between high-quality design and the use of natural stone. The winners of the MAA will receive their prizes during a traditional seminar.

Professionals from around the world can also take part in the show

on the Internet by going to the "CarraraMarmotec virtual fair" Web site at