The APF Exhibition is the UK’s largest forestry, woodland, arboriculture, fencing and biomass show. As such, it requires a lot of planning. In this series, exhibition secretary Ian Millward offers readers a glimpse behind the scenes to learn how the show is organised and how preparations are coming along for APF 2020.

IT is always an exciting time when we open for bookings for the next APF Demo. It heralds the start of the new two-year cycle. We normally like to do this in June of the year preceding the show but this year we had to delay things due to circumstances beyond our control and the subsequent requirement to redesign part of our layout.

The APF team rose to the challenge, another meeting was fitted into August to agree the changes and we were ready to go live with new maps by the end of August.

As we are fortunate to be on the same site again at Ragley we always give our existing exhibitors first refusal to book the same site they had in 2018 without the need to attend another of our site meetings. This was complicated somewhat as about 70 exhibitors could not rebook their 2018 stands as they no longer existed due to layout changes. We gave exhibitors a six-week window to take up our early booking offer, after which sites would be opened up to all new exhibitors and exhibitors wishing to change or enlarge their sites.

Forestry Journal: APF 2020 will play host to the European Chainsaw Carving Championships.APF 2020 will play host to the European Chainsaw Carving Championships.

A second reminder a couple of weeks before the deadline saw more bookings flood in. October 16th saw our first exhibitor site meeting for APF 2020. The site meetings are an important component of our booking process and we require that all new exhibitors wishing to book demonstration space or exhibitors wishing to change to woodland sites or sloping-ground sites must attend one of these meetings. They receive a short presentation covering everything from safety to set-up and take-down, timber ordering to administration.

This is followed by a visit to the site, where they can see the exact piece of ground they wish to book to ensure it is suitable for their needs. In the old days, we made every exhibitor come to a site meeting and after the briefing it was like the start of the Le Mans 24-hour race with exhibitors racing to site to grab the best pitch. Some used to go to site before the meeting and pin their booking form to a tree!

The October meeting was a great success with over 300 m of frontage sold and a total of nearly 130 exhibitors now booked in. Inevitably a few 2018 exhibitors contacted us after the deadline and wanted their old site only to be told it has been sold to their competitor – they had been warned!

Since 2016 we have upgraded our website and included an Exhibitor Hub. Once booked, exhibitors need to log in to this and complete various safety forms, and send us copies of their risk assessment and insurance. They can also access a series of short video presentations about all aspects of the event that they can circulate to their various staff, contractors, hauliers, etc to ensure that the information we send out is disseminated to the people who need it. I would like to think this a fail-safe system but I can guarantee that there will still be drivers turning up with machinery and the only instructions they have had is to take it to the APF show and they haven’t even been told an exhibitor name.  The fail-safe bit is that anyone who has not completed all of this does not actually get onto site. They are parked up until all the paperwork has been sorted. Why some exhibitors leave this to the 11th hour when they have had months to do it is beyond me.

I am constantly amazed that despite being a legal requirement for 20 years, some companies still don’t really quite grasp what a risk assessment is. We still get risk assessments being sent back with, ‘There are no risks on our stand’. Gordon and Eric, our safety officers, vet each one received and give help and guidance if the assessment is not up to the mark. Until these are approved, no tickets or passes are sent out.

We are delighted that all our 2018 sponsors have confirmed their continuing support for the event. The competitions we put on cost a lot to stage and we simply could not put them on without our sponsors’ help.

Forestry Journal: Site meetings are an important component of the APF booking process.Site meetings are an important component of the APF booking process.

A. W. Jenkinson and Tilhill Forestry will be sponsoring the European Chainsaw Carving Championships again; Husqvarna will be sponsoring the World 25 m poleclimbing championships; Euroforest are sponsoring all our internal signage; Komatsu will be running the UK Forwarder Driving Championships;  and we are delighted to be working closely with Forestry Journal as our media partner to produce the show catalogue and help promote the event.

We want to give visitors something different to see each time and are excited to announce we will be having an Arb Zone focusing on a series of short workshops for the practising tree surgeon and also staging the UK Fencing Championships being sponsored by McVeigh Parker.

Our next site meeting for exhibitors is Wednesday, 19 February at 2pm at the Kings Court Hotel, Alcester. If you have not yet booked your site, do not leave it too late and risk disappointment.

Ian and APF 2020 can be contacted on: tel 01428 723545, email, website