The organizing committee for the 50th Annual Western Canada Turfgrass Association Conference and Trade Show met for the second time on August 9th and members are already excited about the event planned to take place in Penticton March 3-5, 2013.
“Much of the initial meeting was spent figuring out what we would like the conference to look like,” said WCTA President Tab Buckner and Organizing Committee Chair. “It has to be dynamic while providing the educational, networking and quality trade show we’ve come to expect.”
The most recent meeting focussed on particulars of the education program, mainly narrowing down speaker selections and topics. A call for speaker submissions was circulated in June and according to Executive Director Jerry Rousseau, “We were pleasantly surprised at the number and quality of those wishing to bring their knowledge and expertise to our education program especially considering we had not used this approach in the past.”
Conference organization will become a high priority for WCTA staff in the coming months to ensure a well-run, valuable experience for delegates and suppliers alike in this landmark 50th Anniversary year. “Once we’ve roughed out the speaker program we can start nailing down the actual event schedule then we move into formulating our exhibitor package,” Rousseau stated adding that, “Exhibitors should expect to hear from us by the end of September after which we’ll be working on getting the delegate package sent.”
When asked if there was anything special in store, President Buckner said “we’ll definitely be building on previous successes like the Fest-of-Ale, Monday Night Hockey Game and BCGSA Social but there are so many details still to take care of that we can’t say much at this time.” He did say, “the committee has a great attitude and is working well together so I would expect everyone attending this year’s show will be really happy with the result.”
While it’s fairly common knowledge that trade show attendance in nearly all industries has declined in recent years including turf and golf conferences, the WCTA shows remains a valuable education and networking resource for turf managers from all sectors.
Last year at the Victoria show, WCTA staff began tracking attendance statistics more comprehensively than ever before. “Interestingly, only about 66% of delegates were WCTA members,” said Rousseau, “which on the bright side means we’re attracting a lot of non-members but it also means we’re not seeing as many actual members at the show as we would hope. Understandably, larger shows can be attractive but unfortunately, I think a lot of people then miss out on what’s happening locally which lately, can put you at a serious disadvantage.”
Backing up those comments, President Bucker added, “Conferences make up a large portion of the revenue for many associations including the WCTA and without our members supporting and attending the show, maintaining programs becomes extremely difficult and the whole industry starts to suffer.”
Of course it may be easier said than done to find it in the budget to further your turf management education but according to Research Chair Peter Sorokovksy, “There are many examples where I’ve saved thousands of dollars from what I’ve learned at the WCTA Conference and applied on my golf course, more than I’ve ever spent on attending and it’s stuff you’re not necessarily going to find out poking around on the internet.” President Buckner agreed adding, “For me, a lot of benefit has come from the connections I’ve made at the show because it’s difficult to network during the season.”
On behalf of the 2013 Conference Organizing Committee, we hope to see you at our 2013 Conference and Trade Show and if you have any suggestions or ideas, feel free to contact Jerry Rousseau at email@example.com