The 2015 Farwest Show promised members of the nursery industry a “Far From Ordinary” trade show experience — and it delivered. More than 6,000 industry professionals turned out for the three-day expo, which was a 10 percent jump over 2014, and over 40 new exhibitors also took part.

Farwest was held August 27–29 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. The show, founded in 1973, is produced by the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN), which represents Oregon’s $830 million nursery industry.

“The industry wanted an enhanced trade show experience, so we made that our goal,” OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone said. “To market the show, we launched the Far From Ordinary campaign, featuring the unmistakable, hort-headed Farwest Fanatics. We know it connected because advance registrations were way up. The people attending told us they enjoyed the new look, but more importantly, they liked what was under the hood. The show now has strong forward momentum, and we hope to continue that momentum in 2016.”

This year’s show included the successful debut of the Solution Center for Growers, featuring 28 mini-seminars right on the show fl oor. It also had outstanding exhibitors, with an increased presence of retail goods; compelling seminars with industry experts; interesting nursery and retailer tours; fun networking events such as the Farwest Pub Crawl; and, earlier in the week, the International Trials Conference, which brought plant breeders from all over the world to Portland to discuss trialing standards and to network.

Attendees responded positively to the changes, as well as the combined synergy of show features. “There was something about it this year that was better,” said landscape designer Linda Eggiman of Portland. “I could tell from the fi rst time I walked through the door. It was well laid out and organized, and the seminars and classes were superior.”

Exhibitors were happy, as well. “We made good contacts, and the show was much improved from the last time I was here,” said Forrest Jones of exhibitor Star Roses. “People were asking for product who hadn’t purchased from us before.”

“We met quite a few new customers,” said Rick Enthoven of Plantafor USA Inc., a first-time Farwest exhibitor. “Building relationships always works out, especially the first time meeting people.”

Farwest 2015 featured a free keynote presentation by globally known customer service expert Ron Rosenberg. Other highly regarded experts also appeared, including Dr. Allan Armitage, Anne Obarski, Lloyd Traven and many others. They shared new ways the green industry can anticipate and meet evolving customer needs and capitalize on the market opportunities of the future.

• New Varieties Showcase, with 49 amazing new plant introductions.
• Idea Center for Retailers, with mini-seminars aimed at garden center operators.
• Growers Showcase, a show floor display highlighting the exciting possibilities of edible plants.
• Walk the Show Floor with Experts, where Armitage and Traven gave small-group tours highlighting some of their favorite plant picks on the show floor.
• Equipment Innovation Day, which had live equipment demonstrations in the field.

Planning and marketing efforts are already underway for the 2016 Farwest Show, which will take place next August 25–27, 2016 at the Oregon Convention Center.

“We understand the importance of Farwest to the nursery industry, not just in the Northwest but nationally,” Stone said. “People need outstanding networking, learning and marketing opportunities, and Farwest exists to meet the demand. We created a show that everyone agreed was ‘Far From Ordinary,’ and now our goal is to make Farwest 2016 even more compelling. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”