An event where attendees buy tickets and expect to be entertained, rather than participate — something like a County Fair. Generally run on a commercial basis, a gate show differs in outlook from a convention (which is run by amateurs, and which offers memberships and expects many people to volunteer, as program participants, gophers and general administration of the event).
Fans tend to view the latter model as more attractive, but very large events (larger than a Worldcon) put a huge strain on volunteer organizers.
Gate shows are usually for-profit, but even when they are organized as non-profit, they usually pay salaries to their leadership, who frequently make their entire living (in a few cases a very good living) from that job.
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