Meeting of minds

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Come rain or shine, and hail, organisers came out in support of The Showman’s Show, visiting Newbury Showground for two days in search of new ideas, new products and new acquaintances…

I am standing outside the show office when I meet Malcolm Green, chairman of the Halifax Agricultural Show. It’s his very first Showman’s Show and he is armed with a myriad of brochures and carrier bags. From a distance, he looks like a man on a mission – he’s got all the tools of the trade at his disposal and he’s ready to make some decisions.

“I’ve been at the show for two days and it’s been terrific,” he tells Stand Out. “Yesterday, we wandered the entire showground, and last night we made notes whilst sat in the camper van. Today, we’ve been to visit all those we’d like to hear more from and it’s really opened our eyes to what’s available.

“We’ve picked up so much, but you do have to come to a show like this with an open mind,” Green continues.

Green is chairman of the Halifax Agricultural Show – a one-day event that attracts up to 15,000 people: An event that no longer focuses on agriculture or farming.

“This year is my first as chairman and so I would like to bring something new to the table. Today, we’ve picked up lots of ideas for sponsorship and we want to keep people on our site for longer. The show does not have a picnic area and so we’re looking for a stretch tent or an open marquee that will give our visitors cover or shade.”

Green admits that the event has been lapse in providing a picnic area for visitors and recognises that local visitors come to the show and then disappear for lunch. His visit to The Showman’s Show hopes to find a solution.

He, along with several thousand organisers, has chosen to attend The Showman’s Show, in order to secure suppliers and the best deals for the next 12 months – and as always the showground was full of new ideas.

Boss Cabins showcased its mobile welfare cabins, and launched the Comfort Space Hybrid model that not only comes with a super silent generator but also benefits from heating and lighting that utilises a 2kW Webasto air heating system and one battery with a small AC inverter. Organisers and contractors can benefit from fuel savings, as the generator need only be deployed to deliver short bursts of power for hot water, the kettle and a microwave.

Catching Stand Out’s eye also was Loos R Us’ new gypsy caravan toilet unit, Eve Trakway’s Event Panel, Colour Mobile VMS’ new fold up, battery operated signage that fits in the boot of a car, Westlands steam locomotive BBQ and South West Event Bars’ Pimms Mini, which also got the attention of Katie Woodbine, festival organiser, GoGo Festival, a three-day festival, which attracts 5,000-7,000 people and is primarily aimed at women aged 20-30.

“We’re looking for inspiration,” she said. “It’s nice to see things that are fresh – the Pimms Mini was great, and we like the look of picket fencing and some of the large TV screens.”

Lisa Kresswell, site manager, Reading Beer and Cider Festival, also attended the event looking for flooring, fencing, toilets, temporary offices and plumbers. The beer festival takes place at King’s Meadow, Reading, and sees 15,000 people come along to sample a range of ales. She visited Signature Fencing and Flooring to look at its Event Deck solution and was impressed with what it had to offer.

Likewise, Valerie Bosley, show secretary, Littlewick Show, and David Tubb, Littlewick’s showfield manager have been visiting the event for over 10 years.

“It’s nice to see what’s new,” explains Tubb. “We love the show and have our regular suppliers but we’ve had a look at things like Circus Whiz because you have to find new things to attract people.”

Honoured guests

Circus Whiz picked up third prize at this year’s event for best stand in the exhibition hall with Batmink and Sunbaba taking second and first respectively. LS Live, S&D Leisure, Specialist Structures and Baconinflate picked up first prizes in each of their respective categories with Specialist Structures claiming top honour – Best Exhibition Stand in the Show.

Baconinflate and Kinet-X showcased a two-tier Q-Bit structure, which has proved popular this year with brands such as LG, Hyundai and Sky. Baconinflate also showcased its 10m x 10m ExoCube on- site, as Stand Out utilised the white, branded structure to host its Outstanding Seminars.

Shambala Festival’s Jon Walsh and Chris Johnson talked waste management, sustainability and recycling – visitors were  told that 70 per cent of waste from the event comes from the campsite, the 2012 event has introduced a £10 per person recycling bond, which you get back when you return a bag of waste or recycling, and that four years ago 33 per cent of festival goers travelled to the event by car – that figure is now 27 per cent. The pair urged organisers to make waste visible to the public rather than hide it behind the scenes in order to encourage visitors to recycle more and now it plans to work with Julie’s Bicycle at a 2012 symposium to talk waste with large-scale promoters, organisers and touring productions.

In the second Outstanding Seminars session of the day, Chris Murray OBE, operations director, Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), talked plans for next year’s event. He told the audience that the RIAT team is looking at ways of redressing the balance of aircraft and family friendly activities at the event, admitting that last year’s Alexandra Burke concert on the Sunday afternoon did not work. He also talked of concerns regarding show dates – the event has been brought forward to avoid clashing with Farnborough Airshow and London 2012, yet now takes place on the same weekend as the British Grand Prix and the Wimbledon final. The dilemma he now faces is whether to provide big screens so that visitors can catch the sporting action.

Good reaction

Exhibitors at the event also had a positive two days. Adam Lyczakowski, owner, Freedomes, told Stand Out: “Last year, we exhibited and received lots of enquiries, even a couple of months after the show. We just want people to see our structures and this year show our new open dome stage and membranes.”

Lyczakowski states that the event has provided much interest from agencies looking to produce roadshows. Likewise, Charlie Hall, managing director, C6(n), also received much interest from agencies and organisers of international events. C6(n) unveiled the final prototype of its hexagonal and modular demountable structure, which will go into production in January – initially five units will be manufactured, which will then be available to hire next year.

Phil Winnington, commercial director, ArcGen Hilta, received much interest from hire companies looking at its Lumphore soft lights, lighting towers and ultra silent generators. He described enquiries at The Showman’s Show as being very buoyant, as did CTN Exhibitions’ sales and marketing executive, Emma Davies.

She said: “The show has been really successful. We have had lots of requests for samples and good feedback from people who have never ordered from us before.”

● The Stand Out team would like to say a massive thank you to Baconinflate, Showmobile, CTN Exhibitions, Fiesta Furniture, Piccadilly AV, Sunbaba, Plaster Creative Communications and Adby Creative.