I miss baseball.
Due to concerns related to COVID-19, the start of the Major League Baseball season was postponed. I’m hopeful there will be some baseball games before the end of summer. I’m not a die-hard fan by any means, but I played a lot growing up. Summer was a time for batting gloves, infield practice and tournaments.
The other summer constant for me has been Farwest Show. It is always good to see customers and friends from across the country in our home state. But this year is different. Following orders from the State of Oregon prohibiting large gatherings through September, the Farwest Show had to be canceled. This will be the first time that the OAN will not produce our industry-leading trade show since it was founded in 1973.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects have hit all industries in varied ways. For the most part, Oregon nurseries have survived the economic disruption. Wholesale nurseries have been able to work throughout stay-at-home orders, and garden centers have done brisk business as people spend more time at home.
Where the effects have been disproportionate is at the trade association level. The OAN, like many non-profit trade associations, is financially supported by trade shows and conventions. With the forced cancellation of the Farwest Show, the OAN is taking a much bigger financial hit than a lot of the members are enduring during this crisis.
The loss is similar to a crop loss in agriculture, where a lot of time, effort, and budgeting is put in, and then the fruits of that labor never materialize. We see losses like this in ag from weather events, economic downturns, or pest and disease outbreaks. Unlike nurseries, however, there is no insurance for a loss like this to the association.
The face-to-face marketing our businesses receive from the trade show is only part of the benefit the association brings to our industry. The OAN helps keep markets open throughout the country and Canadian provinces. This was most evident this past spring as shipping lanes, counties, and states were threatening to close due to the crisis. The OAN stepped up and was an integral part in keeping our shipping and selling season moving.
The OAN advocates on our behalf at the state and federal level. With this being an election year, it is imperative that we have a strong voice at all levels of government to protect our ability to work and run our businesses as we see fit. With the economy in recovery mode, every small business will need the support. The OAN brings the associated members together to collaborate and share ideas. Some of the best education can come from conversations with fellow growers and retailers.
Because of the success of the Farwest Show, the OAN is able to provide these core functions on our behalf. That’s why I appreciate those who rolled their booth commitment into next year, and particularly those who turned their booth payments into a donation to the association. Some have made additional financial contributions to the OAN and I hope others will join them. Your grace and generosity will help see the association through these dark times. Thank you.
Face-to-face business interactions will return after the pandemic is under control. The Farwest Show will be back stronger than ever next year.
My friend and fellow nurseryman Mark Krautmann has said multiple times that “The Farwest Show is like a family reunion.”
It truly is. Next summer it will be great to see our friends from across the country again in Oregon at the 2021 Farwest Show.