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July August 2004

INDUSTRY SHOWS

Quality show

Forest Expo, held in Prince George, BC, in June, saw a wide array of equipment displays and quality attendance, and plans are already in the works for the next show in 2006.

By Jim Stirling

With yet another successful Forest Expo behind them, organizers are already working on the dates for the next Forest Expo, to be held in Prince George, British Columbia in 2006. Following 2004 Forest Expo, there were discussions on both rescheduling the show back to its traditional early May fixture time and staying with a June date. The options were reviewed at a meeting between representatives of the City of Prince George, the volunteers who are the backbone of the show and Forest Expo's executive board members, reports Trudy Swaan, the show's general manager.

As always, the show is looking for feedback from its customers: show exhibitors. A survey went out to exhibitors in August and an announcement is expected to be made this September regarding the exact dates of the 2006 Forest Expo One of the thorniest issues is the potential of scheduling conflicts with the city-owned facilities at Exhibition Park, Forest Expo's home. Those are avoided by the early June dates.

The complexion of this year’s show altered slightly, notes Swaan. For example, more business was reported on the Saturday, as owner-operators working on the Thursday and Friday took in the show. As it was, the figures were far from discouraging. There were 13,109 attendees viewing 610 booths representing 330 exhibiting companies. Swaan says the numbers of exhibitors are starting to trend upwards once again. She anticipates another trend that will continue is the associated events co-ordinated around Forest Expo. Coinciding with this year’s show, for instance, was a highly successful Bio Energy Conference and Exhibition attracting international participation. It was held at the University of Northern British Columbia campus in Prince George.

The conference is expected to return in 2006. Another event scheduled to return in 2006 is the Northern BC GIS Conference. Similarly, there should be continued expansion in the scope of the show’s Value-Added Marketplace. This year’s displays attracted crowds of interested people on all three days. A wood product competition—“Exploring Wood’s Potential”—attracted 40 entries, illustrating the depth of the regional talent pool for creativity and craftsmanship. Forest industry groups choose to hold their annual general meetings in and around Forest Expo time. This year, the Association of Woodland Trainers and the BC Pellet Fuel Manufacturer’s Association held their AGMs during Forest Expo, and the Canadian Women in Timber held a directors’ meeting.

The Central Interior Logging Association—the group that created what has evolved into Forest Expo—also conducted its AGM during the show. One of the highlights of Forest Expo is the charity auction held in conjunction with the Chairman’s Dinner and Dance at Prince George’s Civic Centre. The auction raised an impressive $159,000 this year, testament to the generosity of those organizations donating quality items for auction and the people bidding on them. Ninety per cent of the auction’s net proceeds go toward the operating costs of Forest Expo House - The Caring Place, run by the Prince George Rotary Hospice House Society.

The balance of funds bolsters the forestry education programs operated by the Canadian Women in Timber. The charity auction will be held again in 2006 and Forest Expo has pledged to continue its support of hospice society programs until at least 2012.

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