For nursery professionals who wanted to “Be Far From Ordinary,” the 2017 Farwest Show had much to offer.
- More than 400 exhibitors, including 57 that were exhibiting at Farwest for the first time.
- Three exceptional nursery tours.
- An inspiring keynote from Terri McEnaney of Bailey Nurseries.
- A strong collection of expert seminars with Dan Hinkley, Brie Arthur, Leslie Halleck, Gary Lewis, Suzanne Wainwright-Evans, Sean Hogan and many others.
- The Retailer Idea Center, which continuously offered free, on-the-show-floor mini-seminars for retailers.
- The Grower Solutions Center, which did the same for growers.
- A successful new Happy Hour at the conclusion of Day One.
- The traditional (and very popular) Farwest Pub Crawl on Day Two.
- Stimulating gatherings for young nursery professionals (Emergent: A Group for Growing Professionals) and women in horticulture.
- On-site meetings for several industry groups.
- Beautiful new plants at the New Varieties Showcase and useful new products at the New Products Showcase.
- And, of course, a full solar eclipse the Monday before the show started. Many exhibitors moving into the show donned eclipse glasses and strolled outside, joining thousands who came to Oregon just to see the spectacular, once-in-a-lifetime event.
“That was different,” OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said. “It made hotel rooms and rental cars a little harder to get.”
During its three-day run (August 23–25), the show attracted nearly 6,000 green industry people to the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Some 18 percent of them were first-time attendees.
The event brought together groups, businesses and even individual job seekers, some fresh out of college.
“It’s great when people in the industry can converge, share their knowledge, make new connections, and renew the relationships they’ve established previously,” Show Director Allan Niemi said. “The green industry is made of strong fabric and that’s due to the lasting connections people make, beginning with a face-to-face encounter and a handshake.”
“This is what the Internet cannot do,” said Show Chairwoman Denece Messenger of Decorative Bark Products Inc.
There were two different delegations from China who came to see what Oregon and the United States have to offer. Among international visitors to Farwest, they weren’t alone. The show welcomed visitors hailing from 22 different countries and 45 different states.
The show, produced by the Oregon Association of Nurseries, reflected the continuing strength of Oregon’s nursery industry, which sold more than $909 million worth of plant products in the most recent year tallied. An estimated 80 percent of Oregon’s horticultural products are shipped to out-of-state markets.