The new and improved showground enabled more space for exhibitors with more large kit stands on display than ever before. In total a diverse range of 109 organisations presented their wares, from books to wood chippers and climbing kit to tree surveying equipment.
Over 5,000 people attended during the two days. Dedicated arborists arrived in scores throughout Friday 12 May. Providing the bar for the first time, Stroud Brewery were busy; even during a heavy shower there was a long queue for a pint of ‘Stump Grinder’, the official Arb Show Ale. The tills of many kit suppliers in attendance were constantly busy, some having to travel back to their headquarters on Friday evening to replenish stock for the second day.
The STIHL stand was buzzing with the sound of professionals demonstrating some of the world’s best top-handled chainsaws, with hands-on testing and great displays. The winner of the prize draw for a brand new £800 STIHL arborist saw, Michael Brown from Romsey, was thrilled to be the picked from over 1000 entries.
BBC cameras were on site capturing the fantastic STIHL demonstration of speed chainsaw carving skills with Simon O’ Rourke, as well as some of the incredible times set during the Knot Tying Competition – won by Matthew Graham for the second-year running who tied 5 arborist knots in a time of 17.09 seconds.
Taking centre stage at the heart of the showground, and showcasing just some of the many technical skills involved in being a professional arborist, was the 3ATC Tree Climbing Competition sponsored by arbjobs.com. Nearly 50 climbers took part across three skill categories in a hard-fought competition, which drew in the crowds and had many in awe of their daring efforts high in the canopy of Westonbirt’s magnificent cedars (see more on page 24 of issue 177 of the ARB Magazine).
The sun came out on Saturday and with it, families, arboretum members and members of the public showing a keen interest in trees and professional tree work. ARB Show regulars and industry professionals were spoilt for choice between an array of workshops, tree climbers’ forums and the stunning landscape and remarkable trees within the arboretum itself.
The popular kids’ tree climbing area sponsored by Marlow Ropes and run by The Great Big Tree Climbing Co. was inspiring the next generation of young arborists and popular all day, with 106 youngsters enjoying the attraction. The main arena saw the ‘ForstXtreme Challenge’ with a ninja assault course, ‘Gladiators’-style travellator and one of the great moments from ARB Show – Russell Ball from the charity Fund4Trees setting the record of 424 loops on the Looping Bike.
Thanks again to everyone who came to ARB Show – exhibitors, visitors, sponsors, press and our brilliant hosts Westonbirt Arboretum.
We're already looking at ways to build on the success of the new showground inside the arboretum and look forward to seeing you in 2018.