Portland: Farwest Show

Farwest Show is the sought-after ticket to the nursery and retail garden center industry. This year’s Farwest Trade Show was a biggie, whether you were a retailer, grower, landscape professional, wholesale buyer of plants or horticultural services or a supplier.  There were a host of new ideas for all, to increase efficiency, sales and profitability.  Among the 800 booths, there were trends, insights, ideas, new plants and state-of-the-art products to be found. Shortages sometimes appear in the market, we were told, and some plants have been getting more difficult to find, so the Farwest Trade Show was where frustrated buyers could meet up with hundreds of the best growers in the country, and track down that elusive plant-life product.  Okay listen, I don’t know what it’s called, but there’s this cactussy-looking thing with bluish leaves that look like toothbrushes and these really weird bulbous kind of orange-and-purple flowers….  #FarwestShow

Atlanta: International Woodworking Fair – IWF

IWF is the International Woodworking Fair, and it’s the trade show where furniture manufacturing, cabinetry, architectural millwork, material processing, design, technology, decorative hardware and other related industry professionals from all over the globe come to find products they didn’t know existed that could help their company succeed. Delegates from the small shop types to the large plant-industry buyers seem to know that the International Woodworking Fair is the place to source products, discover new ideas and learn from those who have already troubleshot the solutions to thorny problems.  It was all there, from raw materials, supplies and finishing accessories to woodworking and material processing machinery hardware. Visitors could also see the newest products, trends and solutions for wood, plastic and other material processing industries.  Basically, if you could… you wood…  #IWF14

Chicago: IGC

IGC is touted as the world’s largest trade show and conference for independent garden center owners, managers and buyers. It presents an expansive and carefully selected showcase of garden center products available at wholesale from around the world. IGC is a juried show, which means that each exhibiting company has been screened to ensure the products offered for sale are specifically relevant to garden centers.  In addition to the trade show, IGC offers one of the industry’s most comprehensive educational programs, with seminars, workshops, tours and keynotes led by horticulture business luminaries. A variety of special events offer meet and greet opportunities. IGC’s Classic Rock Concert Series this year featured Eddie Money and The Eagles’ Don Felder, explaining why it has become one of the industry’s go-to special events.  The musical message?  Gardening rocks….

Toronto: Public Works Congress & Exposition – APWA

This one is billed as “the best show in public works”, though you may have to be Canadian to be completely convinced on that score.  Doing its thing for more than 100 years, the APWA International Public Works Congress & Exposition draws thousands of public works professionals from all over the world.  The Congress featured more than 125 technical and professional development sessions presented by industry vendors and experts. APWA’s exhibit floor encompassed nearly 90,000 square feet, playing host to over 400 exhibitors.   There was a Technology Pavilion, a Green Pavilion, “Central Park”, New Product Showcases, and an Exhibitor Solutions Theater.  The topics dealt with ranged from  Career & Personal Development
and Construction Management to  Traffic Engineering, Utilities and Right-of-Way Issues, and Water & Wastewater.  How would you describe public works to a man from Mars?  Well, see, it’s public, and it works…  #APWAexpo

Anaheim: Expo Comida Latina

Expo Comida Latina, we heard, is North America’s only trade event focused on bringing “authentic, specialty gourmet and mainstream products from around the globe to retail and foodservice buyers who are looking to meet the demands of today’s Hispanic American U.S. population”.  Expo Comida Latina is paired with the Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo.  What kind of food and drink are we talking here?  Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Beverages, Dairy, Breadstuffs, Meat, Dry Foods, Canned Goods, plus Bakery and Frozen, among others.  A few visitors were surprised to find that the kinds of chili-peppers that bring tears to grown men’s eyes were not necessarily a given, since much of Latin America likes its dishes tasty but mild — think rice and beans.  Who was there?  Well:  Product Manufacturers, Distributors: Regional, Brokers, Suppliers, Service-providers,  Importers and  Wholesalers,… that was just for starters.  And talking of starters, try this amazing guacamole….

Nashville: NWFA Annual Wood Flooring Convention & Expo

NWFA is the Annual Wood Flooring Convention & Expo.  Wood flooring professionals world-wide turn to the NWFA for education and guidance on the proper installation of wood flooring.   Members find they have a one-stop resource to keep up with the ever-changing landscape (or is that floorscape?) of the industry.  No matter what the hour of day or night, we heard, the NWFA can help wood flooring types resolve their technical problems quickly and easily, using a variety of technical resources.  As a for-instance, the NWFA Installation and Sand and Finish Guidelines offer industry-accepted standards for hardwood flooring techniques.  These guidelines are regularly reviewed by a committee of industry experts.  The NWFA also offers a variety of comprehensive technical manuals.  The easy-to-use formats and straightforward information help guide the uncertain through the situations that crop up on the job.  So there’s no reason to feel… um… floored…  #NWFAblog

Cologne: Gamescom

Gamescom is Europe’s epicenter for games and gamers, the largest trade fair and gaming event highlight for interactive games in Cologne, Germany. More than 335,000 visitors celebrated the `next generation of gaming` at this mammoth event.  Visitors could look at Europe’s biggest trade fair for interactive games and entertainment, and discover the latest and best games, try everything out, and celebrate the games community’s highlight of the year.  Worried about extreme content?  With colored wristbands, the Gamescom exhibitors collaborated with the USK (an entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body) to ensure that younger visitors could only see what was meant for their inexperienced eyes.  Anyone who wanted to test a game had to wear a wristband, so that stand personnel could see which visitors were allowed in which areas by the color of the wristband.  Hey, that’s not a wristband, fraulein, that’s my Mickey Mouse Club watch….