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March 2005  - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal

INDUSTRY SHOWS

New features at Northern Alberta Forestry Show

Some high profile speakers will be injecting new excitement into the upcoming Northern Alberta Forestry Show.

By Tony Kryzanowski

Some high profile guest speakers—including Alberta’s new Sustainable Development Minister and possibly the chairman of the US Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports—will headline this year’s Northern Alberta Forestry Show (NAFS). This year’s event marks the 10th biennial show, and will be held at Grande Prairie’s Evergreen Park from May 5 to 7. Local Madill Equipment Canada branch manager and new NAFS chairman Rob Clayton says the biggest change to the show is the organizing committee’s decision to partner with the Forest Industry Suppliers and Logging Association (FISLA), specifically to organize the luncheon speakers and seminar program.

Equipment suppliers often see the Northern Alberta Forestry Show as a good opportunity to unveil their newest harvesting and processing equipment.

Clayton says partnering with FISLA was an important strategic move by the committee both to encourage regular attendees to continue to visit the three-day show and to attract new people. FISLA has historically demonstrated an excellent ability to attract quality guest speakers, he adds. Furthermore, by working together, both organizations have the opportunity to raise their profiles. Alberta Sustainable Development Minister David Coutts will inform Thursday’s luncheon crowd what the province hopes to accomplish with its new forestry value-added strategy. Tentatively slated to speak at Friday’s luncheon is the chairman of the US Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, Rusty Wood.

He will provide a US perspective on the impact of Canadian softwood lumber on the southern sawmill industry. His attendance is still to be confirmed. Morning and afternoon seminars on Thursday and Friday will cover a variety of topics. At the Thursday afternoon seminar, FISLA will launch and provide a detailed explanation of the new Alberta Master Logger program that it will administer. On Friday morning, local logging contractor Brian Peterson has tentatively agreed to speak about the possibilities, potential, and challenges of Canadian loggers working abroad. Peterson owns a highly diverse logging and forestry services company called Vidar Forest Technologies Ltd.

Friday afternoon’s seminar will provide an update on the Woodlands Operation Learning Foundation’s (WOLF) progress in developing and providing relevant training programs for forestry workers. FISLA executive director Ken Glover says the organization volunteered its assistance to the show committee, realizing that there is always a need to keep events of this calibre relevant and attractive to its potential audience. In keeping with the province’s new value-added forestry strategy, he says FISLA is hoping to provide extra value— in the form of high quality speakers and seminars—to those planning to attend NAFS Exhibitors continue to view the Alberta show as an important occasion to connect with existing and potentially new customers. By the beginning of February, the organizing committee had already achieved two-thirds of its goal of attracting at least 150 exhibitors.

Clayton says bookings are on target, with exhibitors expected to book around 400 indoor and outdoor booths. What’s exciting about the show, he adds, is that many equipment suppliers use this opportunity to unveil their newest equipment lines, featuring some of the most current technology. With the show’s new partnership with FISLA, it is actually hoping to improve on the number of booth purchasers, living up to this year’s show theme of “20 Years and Growing.” Clayton describes this year’s organizing committee as a “really diverse cross-section of people from different aspects of the industry—from the financial end, to producers, to various suppliers.” The committee is also fortunate to have attracted several new members, who bring fresh ideas and new enthusiasm.

Both Thursday and Friday start with a pancake breakfast, and a major entertainment draw is Friday’s dinner and dance at the Grande Prairie Inn, with musical entertainment provided by Danny Hooper. It includes a silent auction. Show organizers expect attendance to remain steady at about 10,000 over the three days. With the show’s free admission, it tends to attract a large local audience. Clayton says that fulfills a major part of the organizing committee’s objective, which is to educate local residents about the forest industry and its economic importance to the Grande Prairie region.

Funds raised by the show through selling sponsorships and silent auction items support a $5,000 bursary program to students attending the forestry program at Grande Prairie Regional College. It also pays for bus transportation so area school students can participate in the “Walk Through The Woods” program organized by the local forest industry during National Forestry Week. Proceeds also go toward supporting Evergreen Park as a venue for community events.

Those planning to attend the Northern Alberta Forestry Show are encouraged to book accommodation early either in the city or in surrounding communities. The Grande Prairie region, with its mix of mountains, prairie, and lakes, features many outstanding camping and recreational opportunities. The city itself is a regional centre with regularly scheduled flights to and from Edmonton. As one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, it also offers many exciting activities of interest to all family members.

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