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DEMO '96 - Show Preview

Summary: Demo '96 organizers predict record attendance for what they say will be the most interesting and varied conference and exhibition in the show's 30-year history.

By Mel-Lynda Andersen
Copyright 1996. Contact publisher for permission to use.

Thousands of people from across the world representing all sectors of the forest industry will visit Quebec City this September 9 to 14 to attend Demo '96, the largest active exhibition of woodlands technology in North America.

The key word here is "active", meaning some 70 per cent of all exhibitors in this show will be actively demonstrating state-of-the-art harvesting equipment in the Forêt Montmorency, a working forest managed by Université Laval located 70 km north of Quebec City.

The Canadian Pulp and Paper Association (CPPA) is primarily responsible for organizing Demo; their working partner for Demo '96 is the Université Laval. CPPA has been hosting Demos since the 1960s; Demo '96 will be the organization's eighth live show.

Four years ago, Demo '92 was held for the first time in western Canada, just outside of Kelowna. Prior to that, Demo '88, held near Quebec City, was "an overwhelming success for everyone involved," says Wayne Novak, CPPA's Director of Events.

"In 1988 we evolved from being a closed industry event to a more open event that included more of the industry sector and private woodlot owners," he adds. It was then decided that the Demo show should move west for 1992. While Demo '92 was deemed a success in terms of logistics and organization, attendance was down substantially, largely because of the recession, and because several other forestry shows were being held at the same time.

"With Demo '92," recalls Novak, "we were hoping for 9,000 to 10,000 people - we got 7,000, which was actually a respectable turnout, considering we were going into a new market and it was the worst possible time economically for us to venture into that new market."

Show organizers predict that Demo '96 will be the most successful yet, with some 12,000 to 15,000 visitors attending from 25 to 30 countries around the world.

"Many people think this event will be more successful than Demo '88. We have received a lot of interest from the US and offshore, and I'm hoping we can increase the inter-national element in this event," says Novak. Novak explains that approximately 60 per cent of visitors to Demo '96 will be Canadian, 30 per cent will be from the US and the remaining 10 per cent from offshore countries.

No matter where Demo is held every four years, the number of exhibitors usually remains fairly constant at around 100. Novak explains, "Due to the nature of this event - the concept of having live equipment demonstrations onsite - we can only develop a certain number of sites and accommodate a finite num-ber of exhibitors."

But this does not mean there will be a limited amount of equipment to view in action. "There will be more than 200 machines worth over $300 million in active demonstrations at Demo '96," predicts Novak. "Visitors are guaranteed to get a good view of modern forestry practices at work."

Because of the active nature of the Demo forestry shows, the logistics of organization are understandably quite complicated. That's the main reason why Demos are held every four years, a schedule that mirrors the Olympics, and for good reason. According to Novak, planning for a Demo must begin as early as three to four years prior to the event.

The CPPA doesn't have any active operations, so prior to each demo we have to find a partner with operations on a site that would be suitable for this type of event. Sourcing a partner is a major undertaking. They must be willing tod evelop their site to meet the specific requirements of Demo. We need to choose a setting that will give people a good understanding of what the technology can do in the forest and how this technology translates into more productivity at home.

We also need to secure a housing centre with 4,000 to 5,000 rooms to accommodate the exhibitors and attendees. In large, popular metropolitan centres like Quebec City, we must secure those rooms three to four years ahead of time," explains Novak.

Quebec City was chosen as the site for Demo '96 for other reasons. We knew Quebec City would be a good location to attract visitors," says Novak. "It's central and can be easily accessed from the US, the Maritimes, Europe and western Canada. It has the housing to accommodate our visitors, as well as a working forest within an hour's drive of the city. Early in the planning stages for Demo '96, the University expressed interest in participating. All the elements seemed to naturally point to the Quebec City region," confirms Novak.

Novak explains that the site for Demo '96 is a boreal/balsam/fir softwood forest, which lends itself well to Demo activities, since the overwhelming majority of forestry machines are designed for softwood. The Forêt Montmorency is also a mountainous area with a variety of topography.

"Exhibitors can choose flatter ground or steeper terrain to demonstrate different techniques," Novak says. "Plus there's a variety of stand types - young stands for forest management, scar-ification, planting, and pre-commercial or commercial thinning, and mature or over-mature stands for harvesting."

The Forêt Montmorency is a challenging forest to manage from an operational perspective, since mature trees must be harvest-ed while protecting regenerating trees. This forest is also an excellent choice for Demo '96, since it is managed for a multitude of uses. Because of its proximity to Quebec City, this forest is used for many recreational purposes like cross-country skiing and snow-mobiling in the winter and biking, hiking, camping - even fishing and hunting in the summer and fall, pending approval from the provincial government.

The Université Laval annually harvests wood from its designated AAC and sells it to local mills. Over the years, integrated multiple-use plans have been developed to maintain logging activities while developing the forest's other scenic, recreational and environmental values. Once the site for Demo '96 was chosen, additional roads had to be built, existing roads had to be widened, and transportation requirements needed to be analysed to accommodate the influx of people who will be visiting various live demonstration sites.

"We have built over 125 landings adjacent to the road to accommodate exhibitors, vis-itors, restaurants and concessions, first-aid stations, etc.," says Novak. Novak readily admits that the biggest logistical challenge is the movement of people. "Because of the nature of this event which will be held in a largely undeveloped area, the site must be able to accommodate the influx and outflux of people," he explains.

"Our biggest challenge is making sure that people get in and out of each area in a timely and safe fashion." A parking area is located approximately seven km away from the Demo '96 site, and no unauthorized public parking will be permitted onsite. Visitors will be bussed in, out and around the site.

"Most exhibitors and visitors who attend Demo '96 will be cognizant of the challenges we face with transportation. We also recognize that people's time is precious and we will hopefully provide them with a show and transportation systems that are safe, enjoyable and efficiently run."

The Foret Montmorency is approximately 7,000 hectares, although the actual size of the Demo '96 site will be much smaller. "We've reduced the size of the site by half over the '92 and '88 shows, explains Novak.

"The road system is five km, instead of nine km, but there's the same number of machines and exhibitors in half the space. It should be easier for the visitor to get around."


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