Last week I attended the new industry show, GroundsFest, that was held at the NAEC Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire.
Billed as a new show format enabling exhibitors to exhibit their wares and products both indoors or outdoors, it allowed for visitors to see demonstrations of manufacturers products.
This was coupled with a number of educational seminars during the show and a dedicated landscape area that seemed to attract a number of new exhibitors that we don’t usually see at either SALTEX or BTME.
My colleague Steve Gibbs and I entering the show
At the end of the first day (5pm) the show organisers provided some after-show entertainment in the form of three live bands and the chance to buy some food and continue with the opportunity to network with those who chose to stay on after the exhibition closed.
As for me, it was an opportunity as always to catch up with the many industry personalities and businesses, I have known for many years with the added bonus of meeting some new clients and customers.
Personally, I do like the feel of an outdoor environment to showcase our industry wares and products. It seems more appropriate if it is on show or being demonstrated outside.
However, we all know that being outside comes with some issues, with the weather being the main worry for the exhibitors. For all the years that I attended Windsor, in most we were blessed with good weather. However last week, the opposite occurred. The first day was battered with high winds and torrential rain throughout. This must have affected the numbers attending the show. As for the second day the weather improved, and we had plenty of clear skies for most of the day.
Groundsman Training team
With over 100 exhibitors there was plenty for those attending to see. During the show I caught up many old friends and acquaintances. On entering the exhibitor halls, I came across Ellie and Chris Parry, Keith Kent and Martin Samson who promote and run Groundsman Training. They had a stand and demo area outside where they were showing people how to mark out a running track and talk about the essential elements of line marking sport pitches.
Rugby School Grounds Team
I then bumped into James Cavanagh, HG at Rugby School, who had come with a few of his staff to see the show. I also met up with Professor John Moverley who writes our Sustainability Focus features on the LANTRA Stand. And In between the rain showers it was nice to catch up with Adam King and Andrew Turnbull.
L-R: Andrew Turnbull and Adam King trying to see some outdoor equipment.
As for others, I mainly caught up with many of the exhibitors and called in on a number of companies who I have arranged to trial some of their latest products. I am looking forward to testing the range of the New Pro X hand tools from EGO, along with a range of other battery powered equipment from the likes of STIHL, Kress, Makita, Cobra and Eliet.
EGO demonstration team in action
Eliet equipment on show
As for robotic machines, there were plenty to see at the show with many companies now showcasing their latest technology advancements in mowers and line marking devices. I believe a number of golf courses are now looking at the possibility of robotic mowers cutting their fairways, mainly due to the overall cost of running and servicing of large fairway mowers.
The day as usual flew by, with it soon time to attend the after-show entertainment and to sample some of the street food on offer. A good number of mostly exhibitors stayed on to see the live bands and try the food. A time to reflect on the first day. Most of the exhibitors I spoke to had a positive response to my questions about the show and had felt it had gone reasonably well, especially as the weather had been so bad for most of the day.
As for Thursday, the weather was much improved with clear skies for much of the day. It will be certainly interesting to find out the success of this show in light of the forthcoming SALTEX at the NEC in November and following on with the BTME show in January.
The organisers of GroundFest will have learnt a lot from this inaugural show and based on their findings will be looking at how to prepare for the follow-up show next year.
You can also read my fellow editor, Steve Gibbs’ comments on the show, written for Service Dealer, here.