The APF Exhibition is the UK’s largest forestry, woodland, arboriculture, firewood, fencing, trees and timber trade show. As organisation gets underway for APF 2024, its exhibition secretary offers Forestry Journal readers an exclusive insight into how preparations are coming along.

THE build-up to APF 2024 continues apace. You might assume we come out of hibernation a couple of months before the show, but I can assure you we never really stop. As soon as we have wrapped up one show we are planning for the next.

As I write this we have around 150 exhibitors booked, with more coming in each day.

We are in the process of going out to tender for the myriad of services we need for the event: temporary roadway, cabins, toilets, car parking, water supply, catering, marquees, electricity, IT, etc.


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The list is endless. I am delighted to notice that, in many cases, prices remain very competitive. During the pandemic many event companies went bust. It is hard to survive if you cannot trade for nearly 18 months. When the world opened up for events again in July 2021 there was a marked lack of competition and consequently prices for services went through the roof. Marquee companies were quoting double what they had 18 months earlier. Although this sounds like greed it was actually mostly down to labour costs. The marquee business relied heavily on temporary summer labour from eastern European countries like Poland and Romania, just like the fruit-picking season. Immediately after the pandemic, this labour was not available, plus more stringent visa requirements made it impossible for companies to source the labour they needed.

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Apparently agencies were demanding around £270 a day for labourers – double what they were asking pre-pandemic.

Fortunately, competition has returned to the marketplace and suppliers are sharpening their collective pencils when it comes to quotes. We have gone out to tender for all our requirements this year. This is not an indication of dissatisfaction with any of our suppliers, but simply due to the fact we last obtained quotes way back in 2019 and after the cancellation of APF 2020, and rolled them forward to APF 2022.

As ever we seek to work with the best companies out there, not necessarily the cheapest. When running a big event it is important to be able to rely on the contractors to do a good job to our standards. For us, the visitor experience is very important and saving a few quid pales into insignificance if we are deluged with complaints that the toilets haven’t been cleaned!

I am delighted to report that our programme of events is coming together and a number of sponsors have come forward to help stage them, including the Arb Worker Zone and APF Tree-climbing Championships. For the tree climbing it is looking hopeful that we will be able to utilise a large stand-alone oak near the chainsaw-carving area. We have finally been given permission to use it after years of asking. A tree health check was delayed by the presence of a hornets’ nest (some people are just such snowflakes). It passed this test, but we still need to give it a full climbing survey to ensure its suitability for a climbing competition. It offers great visibility from a spectator’s point of view and we hope to make the competition fast and exciting to watch.

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We want to make the Arb Worker Zone as relevant and enjoyable as possible, with technical demos, competitions such as line throwing and knot tying, etc, and a showcase for new equipment and techniques. If you have an idea you think it would be good to include, or would like to get involved to help run it, or demo a new item of kit, then we would be delighted to hear from you. It is still a blank canvas, so don’t be shy. We rely on you as the industry to stage things you want to see. No point moaning there is nothing to see from an arb point of view but never putting your head above the parapet!

You might have seen my call-out last month for help in sourcing 35 cm machine-rounded timber for the UK Loggers Championships that we hope to stage. One possible supplier has come forward, so thank you New Forest Sawmills. Given the need for specialist timber it is an expensive event to run, but one we would love to go ahead. With five disciplines and two arenas it lends itself to multiple sponsors rather than just one. Sponsorship could be in cash or kind such, as 25 20 m long by 36 cm dbh logs for the felling. If you are interested, please get in touch.

Last month we welcomed a new member, Greg Cole, to our demo committee, after the retirement of our long-standing Safety Officer Gordon Adam after APF 2022. We have worked with Greg for many years as part of our security team. He has taken on the role of safety officer, has wide experience of working at many large events such as the Game Fair and Glastonbury and knows the APF demo very well. We look forward to working with him over the coming months.

This diary will appear in the December edition of FJ. I hate to use the ‘C’ word before December 1, but if you are looking for a stocking-filler for family and friends then how about an entrance and camping ticket for APF 2024?  Just go to the ticket section of our website to make your purchase.

See you next month.

For more information on APF 2024 visit or email Ian at