Some were glad to be back. Others were glad to be there for the first time.
But whether they were rookies or veterans, many were happy to be attending or exhibiting at the first Farwest Show in two years, which took place August 18–20 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
More than 3,500 nursery industry professionals — including growers, retailers, suppliers, landscape professionals and others — took part in show offerings, which included the trade show expo, educational seminars, social events, show features and more.
“People were glad the Farwest Show occurred, for the opportunity to get together,” show director Allan Niemi said. “Our industry thrives when we can be face-to-face. We realize these are unique times, and we appreciate everyone who supported Farwest.”
Farwest included 49 new exhibitors this year. Among them were houseplant grower Cascade Tropicals, plant hanger supplier Soul of the Party, hard goods supplier Farmer Defense, wholesale grower Breeden Family Farm, and hard goods provider Zaydoe Creative of Cannon Beach, Oregon, which brought its new Gard-N-Hook utility tool to the show.
The tool can be used to hang or move nursery containers easily, making it ideal for nursery retailers to both use and sell. Company owner Joe Acton wrote numerous orders for it from all over the country, from the Northwest to New Jersey to Florida.
“I was skeptical that the show could do that for us, because it was the end of the season and our product moves in spring and summer,” he said. “But this was our first show, and I’ve been astounded at what we’ve sold to customers all over the country. I now kick myself, because I came very close to not coming here. That would have been a mistake.”
Anna Busse, a trade show representative with wholesale plant grower Cascade Tropicals of Snohomish, Washington, found strong interest in its assortment of lush houseplants. “Given all the context, we’ve been happy with the turnout. We weren’t sure people were going to turn out,” she said. “It definitely felt busy for all of Wednesday and Thursday.”
Having a booth full of lush, green plants was a difference-maker. “People can see plants in person,” Busse said. “[If they had] just seen them on our availability list, I don’t know if they would have been interested in them. Sometimes, plants on our website don’t represent as well as they do in person.”
Kaz Kosciolek and Ian Nabal, trade show representatives with farmwear supplier Farmers Defense of Watsonville, California, said they had strong traffic to their booth all three days. They sell hats, arm sleeves, masks and other protective gear for farmers and gardeners.
“As a first-time exhibitor, we had a great experience,” Kosciolek said. “We were very happy with the attendees, exhibitors and buyers. It was really great for making connections with the industry, both on the business-to-business and business-to-consumer side. I definitely think we got our value’s worth at the show.”
Derry and Celia Breeden were first-time exhibitors with Breeden Family Farms, a wholesale grower based in Lebanon, Oregon. They were not just new to Farwest, but to the nursery industry.
“We had a wonderful time meeting people, getting to know people in the nursery industry and making connections,” Derry said. “We were able to get orders in, build our contact list and make some sales.”
Kevin Hsu, trade show representative with Soul of the Party, a supplier of macrame hangers based in Tustin, California, was another first-time exhibitor who had a positive experience.
“Everything went well, from the logistics, to setting up the booth,” he said. “I can’t wait to come back next year …. We did better than what we expected. We were here at the right time, at the right place. It felt so good to see people in person and have that interaction again.”
The show was held under unpredictable circumstances, with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown implementing a statewide indoor mask mandate shortly before the gathering began. “This presented a challenge,” OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said. “The Oregon Department of Agriculture helped us get proper masks for the show, which we were able to give out to any attendees or exhibitors who didn’t already have one. Thanks to their partnership and assistance, we were able to put on a safe show.”
The next edition of the Farwest Show will take place Wednesday–Friday, August 24–26, 2022 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.
“We can’t wait to be back next year,” Ian Nabal of hard goods supplier Farmers Defense said.