After a four-year hiatus, due to Covid-19, 2022 will see the 22nd APF Exhibition taking place once again at Ragley Estate in Alcester.
The exhibition was started by the Association of Professional Foresters (now Confor) back in the 1970’s and it was a great opportunity for the industry to get together and see the latest equipment and technology used in timber harvesting, timber haulage and wood processing.
In the beginning it was mainly a timber harvesting exhibition with live demonstrations of equipment working in their natural habitat. Over the decades it has evolved, so that today it focuses on all areas of forestry, woodland management and arboriculture.
I caught up with Ian Millward, the exhibition secretary who has been involved with the APF for the last 25 years, to find out a bit more about this year’s upcoming event.
Are you expecting record numbers of Exhibitors and visitors at this year’s event?
“Yes, we are. We have over 300 exhibitors, that is more than Elmia! We have already seen record ticket sales. In one day in August we sold over 20% of the entire total for 2018.
“Campsite bookings have been unprecedented, so much that we have had to close for further bookings. It is going to be a big show.”
Do you think people are still a bit nervous of attending large gatherings?
“Not according to our tickets sales!! They are just looking for a great day out”
Have you anything coming up this year that hasn’t been included before?
“Our joining forces with the Arb Show for APF 2022 has meant an increased Arb Focus. We are hosting the UK Open Tree Climbing Competition for the first time, the Harkie Team Reeve competition, tree dismantling demos using a 20T mobile crane, our new Arb Worker Zone with a host of practical demos, technical updates, seminars and competitions. We are staging the McVeigh Parker British Open fencing championships on Friday 22nd as part of the new Fencing Village and our largest ever display of traditional woodland crafts from clog making to dugout canoes.”
What was the reason behind amalgamating with the Arb Show and combining them both into one event?
“APF 2022 is essentially a trade show, and our visitor breakdownis approximately 45% woodland/forestry, 45% Arb and 10% public. We were wanting to give the show more Arb focus and were already talking to the Arb Association to ask then to help run some new features. They then suggested we combined the two shows and pooled resources. This has meant exhibitors effectively getting two shows for the price of one and visitors seeing a plethora of new arb events. APF 2022 is now a one-stop-shop for the industry.”
Is this just a one off or will it be a combined show going forward from now on?
“This is a new venture for both of us and we will sit down after the event and talk about APF 2024. However, we are very excited about the Arb focus this year and the interest it has produced so far.”
What will be the big crowd pullers at this event?
“The Husqvarna World 25m pole climbing championships is a great spectator event. We have over 50 entries so far including the current World record holder, Dan Wheelan with an unbelievable time of just 8.84s. We have a fabulous line up of Europe’s top chainsaw carvers in the A W Jenkinson & Tilhill European Chainsaw carving competition. The Forest Worker Zone has a great programme of events for the forest contractor. Then there is the UK Tree Climbing competition, the crane dismantling demos and the new fun Harkie Reeve team challenge. I am particularly pleased with our woodland crafts area with over 30 craftspeople demonstrating their skills including charcoal making, coracles, clogs, willow weaving, pole lathe turning. Oak swill basket, hazel whisket baskets, Devon stave baskets, chair making, seat weaving, wheelwright demos, hazel hurdles, cleft oak amongst others. I reckon it is the biggest demonstration of such skills ever.”
Do you see the APF leaning more towards Arb, biomass production and smaller scale forestry rather than mainstream timber harvesting?
“We want to embrace all elements of the forestry, woodland, trees, timber, biomass and fencing sectors. Our core focus has always been, and will always remain, that we are a trade show put on by the industry for the industry.”
Will there be a forwarder operator competition at this year’s event?
“No unfortunately not. Komatsu in association with Barony college has staged this for us in the past but Komatsu, along with other exhibitors, have had real supply issues this year and have no machine available. If someone wants to step in at short notice and run one, we can still do it!!”
You are offering free places for up to 800 school children with a transport bursary to cover the cost of getting there. Is this open to schools throughout the UK and what age groups are you targeting?
“For APF 2022 we are working with the Royal Forestry Society to run our educational visits as part of their Young Forester scheme. They have done a fantastic job engaging with schools. We have always been very keen to get children to the show as it is a unique opportunity to see what happens in a modern working woodland. The APF Demo felt this was so important that we put up £6000 travel bursary to encourage schools to attend. We have offered this to all age groups.”
Do you have anything specific arranged for the children to see or do during their visit?
“The RFS are putting together a programme for the children. Each group will have a guide to escort them around and show them everything from seed to sawmill as well as getting the chance to watch the amazing competitions. We really want to open their eyes to show them how trees grow, the benefits trees bring to the environment and the uses of timber.”
With a big skills shortage in the forestry and arb sector will there be any specific events or seminars aimed at encouraging students to choose a career in the industry.
“Confor is addressing that very issue. They are hosting guided tours for university students to show the wide variety of career opportunities that exist in the industry.”
Are you getting many enquiries from overseas visitors/exhibitors?
“We have a lot of overseas exhibitors from as far afield as the USA and Japan as well as Europe. Many exhibiting with us for the first time. It is hard to gauge overseas visitors as our advance tickets are all online although we have had enquiries from Australia!”
How would you sell the APF to people who are sitting on the fence debating whether to attend or not?
“Firstly, I would suggest they come and sit on one of the many fences in the new Fencing Village! Then I would suggest they look through the programme of events. I suggest coming for a day to catch up on the latest technical updates, techniques and seminars and use the day as Continuing Professional Development and then a second day to relax, watch or take part in all the new events. I am excited about the show, and I have been involved in it for over 25 years!”
“This years event is gearing up to be the biggest show yet with over 300 exhibitors booked, 25000 visitors expected and with record advance ticket sales APF 2022 promises to be a fantastic event.”
I am looking forward to attending this year’s event and although we will not be exhibiting this year, please don’t be shy and make sure you say hello.
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