Looking forward to the SHOW
Industry people are looking forward with anticipation to the Swan Valley Forestry Exhibition, being held June 6 to 8.
By John Dietz
Prairie loggers and contractors from northwestern Ontario are looking forward with anticipation to this year's Swan Valley Forestry Exhibition, which will feature a broad and exciting range of exhibitors and events.
"This exhibition is unique in the Prairie provinces," says Glenda Peyton, project manager with the exhibition. Held near Swan River, Manitoba on June 6 to 8, Manitoba's biennial forestry show takes place just inside the north boundary of Duck Mountain Provincial Forest, about 15 kilometres east of Swan River and 16 kilometres south of Minitonas, on Provincial Road 366. Shuttle service from Swan River and Minitonas makes the site easily accessible for a day-trip.
The Swan Valley, approximately 500
kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, was declared the Forest Capital of
Canada in 1998. As part of the Forest Capital designation, a Forest
Capital Legacy Project was undertaken to serve as a lasting reminder of
the year the valley was recognized for its interdependence with the
It has a commercial, mixed stand of
spruce and poplar forest in all stages of growth and is "open"
year-round for educational purposes.
The 2000 show was nearly rained out, but exhibitors, contractors and most of the 2000-plus visitors were happy they came.
The three-day show has a mixture of live action demos and static displays, plus food, fresh air and entertainment. A seven kilometre trail circles and winds through the scenic site. Tractors pulling wagons, with benches holding up to 30 people, provide steady shuttle service.
"The live action is what draws the
crowd," Peyton says. "People get to see all the equipment
involved in modern logging operations. We even have a chipper running,
loading a van."
Some attractions have special appeal to schools and families. "We have loggers on site that skid logs with horses, to show people how it used to be done," she says. "We always have a chain saw carver. He's wood carving all day for people. We have a magician wandering around the site, too, and that attracts the children."
Educational tours and a visit to the
model forest display are big attractions for schools. "We have a
silviculture demo site, where we do tree planting. You can watch a
scarifier work up the ground and observe a tree planting
operation." Members of Manitoba's fire-fighting teams will be
on site as a special highlight, says Peyton, if they're not on active duty
fighting real forest fires.
The first day, in fact, is dedicated to
educational programs. "We schedule bus loads of kids to go out there.
We take them on a tour for a hands-on forestry experience."
Two 120-foot tents offer a sheltered venue for the commercial, educational, industry and agency-sponsored exhibitors. Numerous other exhibitors can be found spaced around the loop. Some of the latest models of logging and sawmilling equipment will be found at sites in the bush. Some exhibitors book space for live action demos, others settle for a static exhibit.
"Once we know who's going to cut, we ribbon off certain areas, and that's all they're allowed-so we preserve the site for future generations," Peyton says. Live action demos are scheduled to purposely avoid overlaps, so that competitors aren't running equipment at the same time.
Loggers who aren't kicking tires on new
equipment sometimes have questions for industry officials. At the show,
they'll find representatives of Manitoba's four largest mills plus booths
with officials from Transport Compliance and Permits, Workplace Safety and
Health, Natural Resources and other industry-related offices.
Most of Swan River's hotel space is booked ahead, she says. Good camping, fully serviced, is available about 15 minutes south of the show site at Wellman Lake.
The free shuttle bus service from Swan River or Minitonas runs hourly between the gate and local hotels. A shuttle van service also operates on PR366 for drivers parked along the provincial road. "If you park a half-mile from the gate, the van will pick you up and run you to the site."
Peyton has been project manager since the first Swan Valley show in 1995. That year, it was held in a banquet room at a Swan River motel. The next year it went to a curling rink. It expanded there again, before moving to the newly-dedicated legacy site in Duck Mountain Provincial Park.
"We started this to educate the public," she recalls. "We wanted more public awareness of the forest industry, and we wanted to make people in the industry realize how important they are to our provincial economy."
The legacy site was set aside by Manitoba Conservation for a variety of educational purposes. At the centre of it is the Duck Mountain Interpretive Centre, a vintage log cabin that was moved to the site in memory of the founder of Spruce Products Limited, Frank Marvin. This display centre offers a great variety of exhibits and information.
Developed throughout the site are hiking trails that serve as cross-country ski trails in winter. Students in the high school forestry program at Swan Valley Regional Secondary School are maintaining them.
Community support has been vital to the
show's growth, Peyton says. "Almost every service club in town is
there to help and participate in the action. The school division supplies
bus drivers. Other towns in the Swan Valley supply drivers for the
tractor-shuttles. Our 4-H kids look after all the clean-up every evening.
The band booster club distributes and collects hardhats."
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