On the year that it celebrated its 20th anniversary, the ARB Show fittingly broke attendance records again and marked the occasion with a feast of activities for all ages and interests.
Last year’s figure of 6834 appeared tough to beat, having itself bettered previous records by 96 percent. However, a large queue of expectant arbs arriving before 9am on opening morning was followed by a constant stream of visitors over the 2 days. In total 8362 arborists and members of the public keen to learn more about the industry and the science of trees passed through the gates, culminating in a 22% increase, in no small part due to an increased attendance from AA Members.
Traditionally in an APF year visitor numbers have decreased slightly or plateaued, but the rise suggests a flourishing event and who would bet against an ARB Show reaching the 10,000 milestone in the not too distant future?
The figures only told part of the story though, as the special anniversary event attracted interest from media and government on top of its growing core of arborists. Representatives from DEFRA were in attendance and on Friday Conservative MEP Ashley Fox visited the Arboricultural Association, while David Drew Shadow Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs attended on Saturday. Dr Drew, the MP for Stroud, met with AA Chief Executive Stewart Wardrop and Chairman Keith Sacre to find out more about the issues facing our industry.
On Saturday morning BBC Radio Gloucestershire were on site, keen to find out more about the ‘celebration of the science of trees’ and how the show connects the general public with the arboriculture industry.
Over 100 exhibitors offering all manner of products and services were on hand displaying the latest products available in every market from decay detection technology, soil decompaction and enrichment to new climbing kit and almost every type of chipper and shredder you could imagine. Exhibitors had little time to pause for breath, including retailers like Sorbus International Ltd who were thrilled “A huge thank you to everyone who visited our stand at the 2018 Arb Show! It was a fantastic success with such an overwhelming turnout. To all those who waited patiently in the queues, we appreciate it!”
Our principal sponsor for the 14th year running, STIHL, pulled out all the stops for the anniversary event, with visitors flocking to see their newest saw, the MS 462 C-M as well as the first ever public demonstrations of the MS 500i. Due for release in 2019, the world’s first chainsaw with fuel injection was the talk of the showground.
There was some stunning chainsaw work on display as crowds gathered around the STIHL demonstration area to witness the speed carving talents of Simon O’ Rourke.
“My range of chainsaws is like a range of paintbrushes. You start with the big saws, taking off the big chunks and then move down. The quietness of the new cordless saws for the detailing work makes a huge difference for me too.”
Congratulations to prize draw winner Mike Metcalfe from the Disaster Arborist Response Team (DART) who won a brand new £800 STIHL MS201 TC-M Chainsaw.
Leicester Tigers and England Rugby Union stars Tom Croft and Tom Youngs caused a stir when they appeared on Saturday. The players put on a 2 hour shift at the STIHL Rugby Tackle game, signing rugby balls and posing for photos as big and little kids tried to impress them by recording the hardest ‘G Force’ impact on the scoreboard.
Once all the wares on offer had been taken in, there was a host of activities to engage industry visitors and families throughout.
The Forestry Commission enjoyed some great engagement, not least thanks to their brilliant Emerald Ash Borer costume and Pests and Disease walks which opened many eyes to the current and potential biosecurity threats for our native trees. The Ancient Tree Forum were a popular fixture and Ted Green drew in crowds on Friday for his talk on ‘Adventures with modern thinking arbs’.
The 3ATC Climbing Competition was once again hotly contested. Graham Bird claimed first place in the Premier category for the second year running and the top 3 climbers in the expert group were separated by just 5 points.
The times in the Knot tying competition certainly stepped up a notch or two, with Matthew Grahams’ winning time of 10.78 seconds, beating his previous record of 17.09. Incredibly, Matt won by less than a second and Sophie, the winner of the Under 16 competition, managed all 5 arborist knots in 20 seconds flat. It looks like Matt may have some more competition for his crown in the coming years.
The Arborists Workshop drew in on Friday audiences for a series of talks on different aspects of safety within arboriculture. While the Tree Climbers Forum, run by AA Volunteers, was also busy throughout the event engaging arborists and sharing ideas, tips and answering their questions.
The Lantra Arena demonstrations offered practical examples of everything from tension and compression cuts to work positioning and single rope technique.
The Welsh Axemen team wowed the crowds twice daily with their lumberjack sports performances, which along with parts of the 3ATC competition, were live streamed back to a live video screen. The screen at the centre of the site was a new introduction this year, also displaying AA videos and content including the ‘Talking Trees’ series.
Hundreds of children and adults enjoyed the kids climbing tree and climbing wall attractions at the show, one parent said it was “absolutely epic for my kids, it was the best thing they’ve been to in a long time with all the activities and everything they learnt about arboriculture and trees.”
Stroud Brewery’s bar was expanded this year and thirsty visitors enjoyed ‘2-Stroke’, this year’s ARB Show Ale. Despite the title of the ARB Show Cider, voted for by show goers on Facebook, 550 pints of ‘Butt Rott’ were still consumed.
Stewart Wardrop was thrilled with the success of the ARB Show “Thanks to all our Exhibitors, STIHL and the many visitors including a great number of AA members who turned out to help us celebrate 20 years with such a great spectacle. The continued growth of the show on all fronts and the increased public engagement can only be a good sign for our industry, we’ll aim to build on the success by continuing to evolve the event and make the most of its home within the world-class arboretum.”
To quote one delighted visitor “Happy 20-year anniversary ARB show - Here’s to another 20!”
Huge thanks to all Arb Talk users who attended this year’s show. The Arboricultural Association is keen to hear feedback from everyone who attended to help us evolve and improve the show for you. We’ll be posting the ARB Show visitor survey to our sub-forum shortly.
“Great ARB Show today; it’s all about trees and some serious kit!”
“Such a brilliant day at the Arb Show. First time going and I loved it, so much going on and a great day to catch up with friends.”
“Thanks to everyone who came to see us at the Arb Show. We had a great show. So busy we didn’t even get a photo of our stand!”
“Had an absolutely brilliant day at the Arb Show.”
“What a great weekend at the Arb Show. It was nice to see everyone and buy new toys.”
8362 Visitors (Up 22% on 2017)
Friday - 4034
Saturday - 4328
5014 more visitors than 2016
201% increase On ARB Show 2014 Attendance (The last event before the show moved to Westonbirt)