Excitement Builds For ALBERTA SHOW
The excitement is building, as the Northern Alberta Forestry Show-being held in May-gets closer.
By Tony Kryzanowski
Excitement is building for the eighth biennial Northern Alberta Forestry Show (NAFS) to be held May 10 to 12 in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Among those most supportive of the show are local businesses, who appreciate the economic impact it has on the community, as well as the national and international exposure that it brings to this city of 35,000 people. "It's an extremely important show for the economy of our whole region," says Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce president Lyle Carlstrom. "It brings thousands of visitors to our city and literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment and expenditure into the local economy."
Held at Evergreen Park, this year's Northern Alberta Forestry Show is billed as the largest yet with over 400 booths hosting a highly diverse group of exhibitors. There will be six display areas, including areas for trucks, equipment, suppliers and sawmills, as well as two major indoor display areas in both the Drysdale and Lewis Hawkes buildings. Admission is free. In addition to the display area, the three-day event includes two special luncheons, as well as a dinner and silent auction on Friday night. The Thursday luncheon will feature presentations from a number of local forestry leaders on the state of forestry and what's in store for the future.
Activities during the day will include at least 10 portable sawmill demonstrations. The show occurs in alternate years to the popular biennial forestry show in Prince George, BC and is so well organized that it is self-sustaining. However, Carlstrom says the Grande Prairie Chamber is always willing to lend a helping hand on request. One way that chamber members support the show is through sponsorship. The money raised by the show-through sponsorship and silent auction proceeds-covers its expenses and supports educational programs. For example, it pays for transportation for more than 700 area school children so they can participate in the Walk Through The Forest Program, hosted by area mills, that takes place during the three days prior to the show. Students learn about silviculture methods and tree species identification.
It is highly appropriate that Grande Prairie should host a major forestry show, as the region has a long association with the forest industry. Today, the city of Grande Prairie estimates that at least 1,500 direct forestry jobs come from Canfor, Weyerhaeuser, Ainsworth Lumber and forestry equipment manufacturer Risley Manufacturing facilities- not to mention the number of logging contractors, truckers, equipment operators and consultants. Then there are the other positive spinoffs from the industry in the retail, hospitality and service sectors. Although lumber prices are currently low, the long-term future for the forest industry continues to be bright. Canfor, Weyerhaeuser and Ainsworth Lumber are all currently engaged in massive modernization and expansion projects.
Plus, there is still hope that the $900 million Grande Alberta Paper project will still proceed. Over the years, forestry has provided a stabilizing force in Grande Prairie to combat the peaks and valleys common to the oil and gas and agriculture industries, which are also important contributors to the local economy. "Forestry, since it started away back when, has just simply grown by small and steady increments to become a larger and larger part of our economy," says Carlstrom. "The nice thing about forestry is that it also seems to be fairly consistent in terms of market demands." Although the industry itself has remained quite consistent over the years, there is considerable transition currently underway among forest industry equipment suppliers.
Many will have local and international representation at the show, as well as technical advisors. As a result, the Northern Alberta Forestry Show is expected to attract a number of logging contractors with questions about parts and service support, as well as what innovations may be on the horizon given the current trend toward equipment supplier consolidation.
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