With the 'big boys' back in the fold, visitor numbers were always going to be higher than 2011, but the acid test was, would they be higher than 2010; the last time they were in attendance? The answer was yes and, whilst visitor numbers are always a bone of contention, it was hard to argue with the milling crowds in the halls, and greenkeepers still queuing to get in at midday.
BIGGA had taken the decision to put John Deere, Ransomes and Toro in the returning Hall M, and it worked. As JD's Steve Mitchell said; "Who are we to argue? We made the decision to attend every other year, so cannot have any say in their decision."
Pride of place in Hall A was given to The Grass Group with their ever diversifying range, whilst the coup of having ex England goalkeeper, Peter Shilton, on the Everris (Scotts) stand on Tuesday resulted in queues round the stand all day, with a huge number of visitors carrying signed footballs around the show.
A visit to Wetherspoons at 10.30 on Tuesday evening was akin to opening the lid of a bait box - with a not dissimilar aroma - and Wednesday proved busier still. All the exhibitors I spoke to were encouraged by the level of enquiries, and there was a general optimism that belied the current state of the UK economy.
The BIGGA Seminar programme was, by all accounts, very well attended and greenkeepers we spoke to praised BIGGA for the quality of the programme.
New BIGGA CEO, Jim Croxton, maintained a high profile throughout the show, which was welcomed by exhibitors.
As for Pitchcare Loz he was on hand with his trusty camera to record all the activities and capture some memorable images of the show.
Yes, I would agree with Peter; there was a definite buzz about the show and visitor numbers were clearly up. BIGGA's official attendance figures for the show over the three days was 8,386 as against 6,018 for last year and 5,883 for 2010, representing percentage increases of 39.3% and 41.5% rises respectively.
Perhaps the combination of having the big three back (John Deere, Toro and Ransomes Jacobsen), the mild winter weather, and a much improved educational programme was the reason for the healthy attendance figures; most of the exhibitors were pleased with the attendance and reporting brisk interest in services and products.
As with any show or seminar, I always enjoy the opportunity to meet up with the guys and catch up with latest news and gossip. Without doubt, one of the highlights for me was having the chance to meet Peter Shilton and Barrie McDermott and get an autographed ball and a much desired picture of both sportsmen, of course holding the latest copy of the Pitchcare Magazine.
As always we are asked to attend many press briefings to find out the latest news from companies and what new products they are launching:-
- Tim Merrell from The Grass Group spoke introduced some of their latest developments, namely the introduction of new Trilo B7 Blower and ATT INFiNiCut new dual power source hybrid pedestrian mower.
- Headland Amenity were promoting a raft of new turfcare products such as Elevate Fe, a liquid iron feed that can be mixed with other fertiliser products. They also introduced Clipless, a new growth retardant product for use on grass surfaces, and Surpass Pro a new Fungicide product .
- Richard Campey was on hand to promote a number of new products, the new Greenwave linear decompactor, Cormaster extream aearator, a trailed brushing system for use on both natural and synthectic surfaces, and a small pedestrain Vredo turf fix seeder.
- MJ Abbot were promoting their new web shop and services, whilst at the same time showed some of the latest projects they had completed at various golf courses around the UK.
- Syngenta were keen promote their new wetting agent, Qualibra and spraying nozzles. Dr Simon Watson was on hand to explain and demonstrate some of the nozzles working,enabling better target results when spraying , wetting agents, fungicides and foliar feeds .
- David Withers, Chief Executive of Ransomes Jacobsen, spoke about the brand new all Electric Eclipse2 walking greens mowers that were being produced for the UK market, along with other new products.
- Richard Brown of BSH took the opportunity to promote a number of new seed varieties, and mentioned their new range of Vitanica fertiliser products.
- Steven Bernhard of Bernhard's talked about the importance of educating greenkeepers and giving them the chance to learn. This year sees the one hundredth greenkeeper get the chance to go on a trip of a lifetime to America, visiting the GSCAA show in Las Vegas and a number of top golfing facilities.
During the show, I managed to catch up with one of the golf industry icons, Walter Woods, who was promoting his book 'Memoirs of a Greenkeeper'.
However, the best part of any show for me is when I get the chance to meet and make new acquaintances with the people who make it all happen - the practising groundsmen and greenkeepers, and the exhibitors.
So many personalities, so many interesting people and, more importantly, being able to share their experiences via the Pitchare website and magazine.
Also, this year Everris hired the Revolution Club and invited over 300 guests to enjoy some live music, free drinks and food; the band were great and played a mix of classic rock tunes, which in turn created a great atmosphere for the night.
The following pictures capture some of the atmosphere and many of the industry personalities who attended this year's show.
BIGGA are to be congratulated for putting on a vibrant show in difficult circumstances. Of course, the challenge now is to maintain this new found momentum in 2013 when, once again, the Big Boys take a sabbatical.
Breaking News :- John Deere Annouce BTME Press prize draw winners
After a rigorous judging process conducted this afternoon in conditions of absolute secrecy (ie Adrienne pulling bits of paper out of a cardboard box in the ASM PR office), I am delighted to announce that we have a winner of this week's John Deere QA Challenge special press prize draw at BTME
Congratulations are therefore due to (in order of being picked out of the box):
1. Laurence 'Loz' Gale, Pitchcare
2. Paul 'New Boy' Groves, LAPU
3. Ian 'Dad' Marshall, AME
A 1:16 scale model of a John Deere 7700 fairway mower will therefore be winging its way to each of the lucky winners, with our compliments, just as soon as I can persuade Adrienne to pick them up from Langar next time she's there.