The APF Exhibition is the UK’s largest forestry, woodland, arboriculture, fencing and biomass show. Here, exhibition secretary Ian Millward offers an insight into how preparations are coming along for APF 2022.

AS you read this there will only be five months to go before we open the gates to APF 2022 on September 22. I hope for you that it is an exciting prospect and something you are all really looking forward to. Certainly everyone who has rung into the office is excited about the event and ticket and camping sales are going very well. We are planning for a record crowd.

We have over 230 exhibitors booked in and 80 per cent of our sites are now sold. I would like to extend a warm welcome and our thanks to our newest sponsor, Harkie, which has agreed to sponsor the UK Open Tree Climbing competition. I am sure many of you in the arb world are already familiar with Harkie and its range of top-quality kit. If not, the show will be a perfect place to see it in action and grab a bargain.

READ MORE: APF 2022: What is it? How can I get involved? Where can I buy tickets? Where is it held in Warwickshire?

We love staging these big competitions like tree climbing, pole climbing, chainsaw carving, fencing, woodland crafts and the Arb Worker Zone. However, they cost a lot to stage and without our sponsors we would be unable to put them on. For instance, the climbing poles cost around £2,000 each and that’s before specialist transport. The huge lumps of carving timber (2 m x 1 m) cost about £140 each. Multiply that by 25 pieces, add in the expenses of 25 carvers, fencing, PA system, electricity, speed carving timber, fuel, oil and staff to run the event and you will see what I’m getting at. I would like to thank all of them – A W Jenkinson, Euroforest, the Forestry Commission, Harkie, Husqvarna, NexGen, Tilhill and Forestry Journal – for their support. The show would not be what it is without their help.

We are still on the lookout for 25 pieces of large-dimension timber for this year’s event. Redwood is our preference, but Douglas fir or western red cedar would also be okay. The 2 m long logs need an average top diameter of about 1 m. If you have any or know of some, please get in touch. I am sure I could rustle up a finder’s fee of some tickets for anyone who can provide a contact.

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We still have some excellent opportunities for companies looking to increase their brand awareness without having to exhibit. There are still opportunities in the Arb Worker Zone, woodland crafts area, APF staff clothing and prime banner sites next to entrances and on approaches to car parks, among others. If you are interested let me know. I am always happy to put together a bespoke package to suit different budgets.

April 12 saw our latest site meeting and more exhibitors checking the site and booking space. We also took the opportunity to invite some of our key staff to brief them on the site and show them the new layout. In addition to our safety officer and assistant safety officer, Gordon Adam and Eric Boyd, who are core members of our organising committee, we have a larger team of staff with special responsibility for safety on site. With 2 km of demo circuit, 320 exhibitors, all the competitions as well as our visitors, that is a lot of things to keep an eye on. All of them are old hands and have worked on a number of shows as well as working in the industry between events, so they are down-to-earth, practical folk.

The following day was our Safety Advisory group meeting. Representatives of the emergency services, councils, highways, etc, as well as our own contractors and ourselves, sat down to run through our event management plan. It was a productive and constructive event with the chance to suggest improvements and share ideas about things that have worked well at other events. Traffic management featured highly and we are quietly confident we have a robust, workable and flexible system in place. Controlled and monitored by CCTV, we will have a team of PATOs (police-approved traffic officers) on motorbikes ready to respond and manage any hotspots. The PATOs are not police, but have police approval, to actively stop and direct traffic to clear hold-ups. The cost of this is huge. I had to lie down in a dark room when I got all the figures in! We think it is worth it to get everyone into and out of the show as quickly as possible.

READ MORE: APF 2022 diary: Parking solutions, industry focus and fairground rides

However, we do need your help with this. While it is okay to follow your SatNav to get close to site, once you start to see the AA signs for the event please follow them, whatever your SatNav, Googlemaps, What3Words or past experience tells you. The traffic management and site layout is completely different from previous years. We have four vehicle entrances to the site and the ability to send you to the quickest and easiest. If you decide you know best then it will not work. Please help us by following the signs. You have been warned!

It was interesting to hear from the Warwickshire Ambulance Service that they now much prefer What3Words to postcodes or grid references to get to an incident, especially in rural areas. We will be using this during the event and you will see signs displaying What3Words at key points. If you have not got the app on your phone, download it now – it’s free! You can use it as a very precise SatNav as well as for telling someone where you are. It has been a lifesaver on a number of occasions already.

We have one final exhibitor site meeting on Wednesday, June 22, at Kings Court Hotel, B49 5QQ. If you haven’t yet booked a stand, put the date in your diary and come along to choose a suitable site.

APF 2022 will take place on 22-24 September at Ragley Estate, Warwickshire. 
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