Independent meeting planner Michael Tyron, based in Edmonton, Alberta, was running a meeting for the Edmonton Police Service when a woman complained to police that a man was following her. The man was simply trying to recover his wallet, which the woman had stolen from him as part of a pickpocketing scam she worked with her daughter.

Tyron's anecdote was one of the winning entries in the Hampton Roads (Va.) Convention and Visitors Bureau's Meeting Planner Sound Off contest. The winners had their stories depicted in New Yorker — style cartoons, which will be displayed in the new Hampton Roads Convention Center.

Then there is the story told by Mark Singer, president, Advocates of Virginia, a Richmond-based event management firm, about an audience that was moved to tears. During a conference, a state trooper gave a presentation on safety. In a demonstration on the use of pepper spray, the trooper aimed a dispenser of it toward the ceiling. Suddenly, the crowd was hacking and wheezing — but not from the can of pepper spray, which was empty, but from a 10-pound container of black pepper that someone had dropped in the nearby kitchen. It had spilled in front of an air duct, which sucked the pepper into the meeting room.