A CONFESSION. We didn't really know what to expect from the 2023 ARB Show, in fact, there was an air of uncertainty when we packed our belongings into a van and set off on our seven-hour journey from Glasgow. 

Would it be worth the miles squeezed together in a Transit? Would there be enough to see, just months on from the APF/ARB Show of 2022? Would the crowds turn out in their numbers? 

Within the first few hours of day one, it became clear these worries were misplaced. The crowds did turn out. The exhibitors – many at the show for the first time – did bring their a-game. The hours in the van were ... okay, they were still the worst part of the whole thing, but let's focus on the positives. 

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Whether it be TP's electric woodchipper, the 175 Mobile ZE, or Sika, the decay-sniffing dog, there was enough variety and genuinely interesting exhibitors to fill your boots. On our own stand, we handed out countless copies of essentialARB and had the chance to catch up with readers, some for the first time in a number of years. When Saturday came, there was almost a spring in our steps as we packed up and braced ourselves for the journey up the road (almost). 

READ MORE: ARB Show 2023: Event hailed as 'surpassing all expectations'

It is a time when many other industries are tossing in-person events to one side. For instance, it was once the biggest date in the video game calendar, but America's E3 was cancelled at the last minute this year because so many exhibitors pulled out, amid the rise of online-only launches. Video games may lend themselves to being held digitally, given they are literally digital experiences, but the fact there is still desire in arboriculture (and forestry) to get together and show off the latest products should be celebrated. 

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What does the future hold? It's hard to say. Shows are expensive undertakings for brands, and for every manufacturer that toasts a good one, there's another wondering if it was all worth it. That several of the biggest names in arboriculture – including Stihl, the sponsor of 15 consecutive ARB Shows – opted to stay away is a worry; albeit, that may have something to do with the Westonbirt exhibition taking place so close to 2022's APF. 

Shows are something to cherish and the 2023 ARB Show was one that surpassed all expectations. Here's hoping they are here to stay for the long run. 

This piece is an extract from this week's Forestry Features newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Wednesday with a round-up of the week's top stories. 

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