More than 6,300 industry professionals turned out for Farwest 2016, held Aug. 25-27 in Portland, OR. That figure marks a 6% increase over 2015, according to show organizers, making it the second consecutive year that attendance went up.
Farwest also attracted 53 new exhibitors to the trade show, the most since 2012. The total number of exhibitors topped 400, representing a 4% increase over 2015.
“Exhibiting at Farwest is good for business, both short and long term,” says Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) Executive Director Jeff Stone. “Handshake agreements are still part of how business is done, which is why it was great to see so many new connections made on the show floor, on the tours, or even at events like the Farwest Pub Crawl. We are thrilled with the number of new attendees and exhibitors, the number of formal and informal tours people took during Farwest week, and the fact that we’ve kept our show unique, successful, and green.”
For the second year, the show was marketed with a theme of “Far From Ordinary,” including ads that featured the “Farwest Fanatics” — industry leaders who were coiffed with green plant material.
“The marketing campaign was intentionally provocative, and it is really cool to see how it has garnered such national recognition and attention,” Stone says. “Farwest is an experience, it is educational, but most of all, it is a premier way to show off the industry on our home turf.”
Many exhibitors say they were pleased with the traffic to their booths, as well as the increased number of orders placed at the show.
• “It surpassed all of our expectations as a first-year exhibitor,” says Daniel Madland of Bridgetown Garden Tools in Portland, OR.
• “We were getting some people from the East Coast,” says Chris Harling of Eshraghi Nursery in Hillsboro, OR. “With the tightening of supplies, people are coming out West again.”
• “The show allowed us to catch up with old contacts we hadn’t seen in a while,” says Kyle Russell of Russell’s Nursery in Aurora, OR, which was exhibiting for the first time in five years. “We were really busy and had a lot of conversations.”
This year’s show featured a keynote presentation by globally-known green industry economist Dr. Charlie Hall of Texas A&M University, who stated that he expects continued industry growth for at least the next two years, and only a remote chance of a recession during that time.
Other highly regarded experts also appeared, including Judy Sharpton, Lloyd Traven, Dan Hinkley, Suzanne Wainwright-Evans, Ron Rosenberg, and many others. They shared new ways the green industry can anticipate and meet evolving customer needs and capitalize on the market opportunities of the future.
Continuing Farwest features included the following:
• New Varieties Showcase, with 55 amazing new plant introductions.
• Idea Center for Retailers, with mini-seminars aimed at garden center operators.
• Solutions Center for Growers, featuring mini seminars aimed at helping wholesale growers improve their operations and profitability.
• Growers Showcase, a show floor display highlighting the exciting possibilities of plants for pollinators.
• Walk the Show Floor with Experts, where Sharpton, Hinkley, and Wainwright-Evans gave small group tours highlighting some of their favorite plant picks and products on the show floor.
• Networking events including the Farwest Pub Crawl, the Emergent event for young nursery professionals, and the Women in Horticulture gathering.
Planning and marketing efforts are already underway for the 2017 Farwest Show, which will take place August 24–26, 2017 at the Oregon Convention Center.