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.

THE very good news is that, after opening our online ticket system last month, we have sold our first tickets, so we know we will have some visitors through the gate! Buying a ticket online saves £4 on the gate price and should ensure minimal delays on entering.

Although it is only February as I write this, there is a surprising amount of work going on behind the scenes. Not only are we working towards APF 2020, but we already have draft plans for APF 2022. Our chief co-ordinator, Mark Steele, and assistant chief co-ordinator, Jemma Bargery, have been on site for a couple of days, meeting with Ragley Estate and discussing possible plans for 2022. This may seem a bit premature, but we are only two and a half years out from APF 2022 and we want to be able to announce dates and details during APF 2020. We held our second exhibitor site meeting on 19 February and I will report on how that went in the next issue.

Susie has completed the year-end accounts and everything is ready to send to our auditors. She can now concentrate on chasing up exhibitors who have not yet paid for their sites. We have a very good, foolproof system for this which thankfully doesn’t involve ‘sending the boys round’. Any exhibitor who has not paid for their site by the time of our next site meeting loses the site they have chosen and, if they have not paid by the time of the exhibition, they are simply not allowed onto the showground to set up.

Forestry Journal:

I have enjoyed being ‘courted’ for the last month by all the various trade magazines as I sort out my media spend budget. This is largely complete now and our first advert is ready to roll. Look out for it in any of the magazines you get and ensure you put the dates in your diary.

One thing that we have been a little weak on in the past is our social media presence. While we have a decent Facebook and Twitter presence, we could certainly do a lot more and we have not utilised the power of Instagram yet. A priority for this month is to up our game for all three. At every show we have a professional photographer present taking photos both manually and with a drone, so we have a huge library of great shots backed up by ones taken by our own staff during the event. Instagram is clearly an app for photos, so we will be looking to build our presence there. While many of you will enjoy social media for personal use, how many of you use it to promote your business? This is where our relationship with Forestry Journal as our media partner really kicks in. We are tapping into their expertise for help and advice. One of the issues we have is how to target all the various industry sectors we cover: forestry, woodlands, arboriculture, estate management, grounds maintenance, biomass and bioenergy, fencing and farmers.

Forestry Journal:

Forestry Journal fortunately has access to experts who will help us with this and we look forward to working closely with them to develop our presence and enable us to get information about the event to all our potential exhibitors and visitors. It will also be another way in which you can engage with us.

I am very keen to ensure what we put out is relevant, interesting and informative rather than just bombarding your phone with nonsense. Please look out for us on all three platforms and ‘like’ us to get the word out there.

It is quite hard sometimes, as I sit here typing this diary, not to simply rehash articles or press releases produced for other titles, but to bring something new and fresh to each one (editors, as a rule, don’t like seeing an article they are about to publish appearing almost word-for-word in another title the week before).

As you know, Confor is our parent company and produces the bi-monthly Forestry & Timber News. We are working with them to help promote the event with a series of targeted articles to fit in with the themes for each edition. The next FTN is focusing on skills and training, so I will produce something highlighting the opportunities that exist at APF 2020 for training, skills updates, workshops, booking courses, etc. With regard to the above, I hope I will soon be able to announce some exciting new events for APF 2020 aimed squarely at the working arborist.

We are hoping to be able to stage a tree-climbing competition at the show – something we have not done before, chiefly due to the lack of suitable trees. We believe we have some decent trees this time, so if you are able to help us put on a high-level climbing competition this year, please let me know.

Finally, the ‘Wally of the Month’ award once again goes to our parent company, Confor. Its e-newsletter, sent to all Confor members last month, gave the dates for APF 2020 as 24/25/26th September 2010! It looks like we may have to hire a minibus to take the guilty parties to Kielder for a week of brashing Sitka!

APF 2020 will be held at the Ragley Estate, Alcester, Warwickshire on 24–26 September 2020.

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