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Saskatchewan Forestry Expo hits the Mark

The province’s first forestry expo was a huge success, with more than 180 exhibitors and attendance of over 10,000.

By Tony Kryzanowski

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A major contributor to the heightened interest in the Saskatchewan Forestry Expo was a reallocation of the forest resource that is expected to launch $850 million in new forest industry investment in the province over the next five to 10 years.

Excellent summer weather, excitement about the expansion of the forest industry in Saskatchewan and a large number of industry suppliers brought out the public in droves to the province’s inaugural forestry expo in the city of Prince Albert.

A total of 10,240 visitors took in the forestry show that ran from August 10 to 12, more than double the attendance organizers expected. However, Prince Albert’s experience in hosting large events paid off, as there were no difficulties providing adequate food, accommodation, and transportation services for the influx of people to this city of 35,000. They had some experience at it, as the city hosted athletes for the Western Canada Summer Games in July.

A major contributor to the heightened interest in Saskatchewan forestry was a timely announcement by the provincial government a few months before the show. The province has decided to reallocate its forest resource, which is expected to launch $850 million in new investment over the next five to 10 years, and create 10,000 new jobs. It anticipates 12 new or expanded facilities, creating an additional 4,000 to 5,000 person years of employment in construction alone.

Saskatchewan Forestry Expo exhibitors appreciated the large public turnout, and according to organizers, forestry con-tractors were really looking forward to the event.

"It gave a number of contractors an opportunity for one stop shopping," says Prince Albert economic development coordinator Perry Trusty. Many contractors working in the area’s forest industry normally face considerable travel time to visit with vendors selling forestry equipment and services. Even the trip to other forestry shows was a long journey. Many viewed having a forestry show in their back yard as a tremendous opportunity.

The number of exhibitors certainly exceeded expectations. As this was the province’s first forestry expo, organizers had set a target of 150 booth sales. They far exceeded that goal, with a total of 233 booths sold to 187 businesses.

Exhibitors came from throughout Canada and the United States, bringing with them the latest in forestry equipment and services. Not only was this a bonus for con-tractors, but an eye opener for the general public who had the opportunity to take a look at the most recent advances in logging and sawmilling technology. The expo’s events and seminars were also very well attended.

The forestry expo will be a biennial event for Prince Albert, held in alternating years in Swan River, Manitoba. Swan River will host the show in 2000, then it will return to Prince Albert during the summer of 2001. A number of exhibitors at this year’s expo have already made bookings for the show two years from now.

Organizers are also well prepared financially to start planning for the show in two years, as a fundraising auction at the expo raised $20,000. Grande Prairie, Alberta, logging contractor D & J Isley and Sons paid $5,000 for the show’s signature piece, a wilderness clock, that the company promptly donated to the Prince Albert Tourism and Convention Bureau. They wanted the clock to remain in the expo city so as to create maximum exposure for the event.

The clock, inlaid with wildlife, lakes and trees typifying all facets of forestry in the province, was created by Saskatchewan wood artist Doug Elgie for the expo. Donated by Caterpillar/Cat Financial and Saskatchewan Cat dealer Kramer Ltd., it will be on display at the Prince Albert Visitor Centre.

Prince Albert was the logical choice to host the Saskatchewan show because it is an industrial service centre with a long association with the forest industry. The city will also be home to the province’s new Forest Development Centre. The centre’s mandate includes having industry and government work together to identify training, research and development, and to market intelligence needs.


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