Pitchcare at Saltex 2003
Sunshine all the way at Windsor for the traditional 3 days of the show, with the usual slow start on Tuesday morning building up to a busier midday, with Wednesday being the best day in terms of numbers. Official figures have yet to be issued, but regular exhibitors reckon overall attendances to be on a par with last year.
Ransomes Jacobsen took away the major accolade of the show with the Best New Product Award sponsored by Horticulture Week. Their product - the Mag Knife - was, in the opinion of many respected professionals in the industry, the most innovative product to be introduced for many years.
Other important awards included the FA's Groundsman of the Year which was won by Roy Rigby and his team at Manchester City, and the inaugural Park of the Year award sponsored by Briggs and Stratton and won by Sidmouth Town council.
A new feature was the lunchtime debates. The one I attended - Turf, get to the grass root issues - was well supported with a good mix of industry experts on the panel. My only criticism was the lack of time allocated for the debate. The compere tried to cover a wide range of topics from pesticides and EU regulations to relationships between Groundsmen and their immediate managers. As a result, the discussions were general in nature rather than in detail.
Pitchcare's presence, as you would expect, was highly visible. Our special edition newspaper was displayed and distributed by no less than 26 exhibitors. As a thank you, our special guest at the show - Chris Greener, the UK's tallest man - made a point of visiting each of Pitchcare's supporting exhibitors. A selection of pictures with Chris and some of the exhibitors are shown below.
A further selection of pictures and press releases issued at the show are covered in the Industry section on the Pitchcare site.
The overall impression of the show varied depending on which exhibitor I spoke to, with some reporting very strong interest from potential customers, particularly on the Wednesday, whilst others were questioning the value of being there at all. In general, it would appear that the main beneficiaries were the newer companies exhibiting to a new customer base.
There is no doubt that the issues surrounding the future of Saltex will continue to be debated - Is it too often? Is it in the right location? Is it staged at the right time of year? And so on and so forth.
The organisers, I am sure, are aware of all these views, and the fact that many companies are choosing to attend more targeted exhibitions such as BTME and NTF or, in some cases, organising their own. They know they are up against some stiff opposition.
Pitchcare will be attending all the conferences and exhibitions and giving you our own inimitable views on how they perform.
If you have any views of your own on this year's Saltex, feel free to comment on our Message Board on the Pitchcare site.