While various upcoming forest products industry trade shows, events and meetings have been postponed or switched to a ‘virtual’ format because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number continue to be canceled.
The latest cancellations include several trade show events: the East Coast Sawmill and Logging Equipment Exposition, also known as the Richmond Expo, the International Woodworking Fair, the International Conference on Wood Adhesives, and the Woodsmen’s Field Days.
One of the industry’s leading trade associations, the National Hardwood Lumber Association, also announced it would cancel its annual convention.
Other trade groups and event organizers are continuing to monitor the pandemic, and it is possible more events and meetings will be canceled this year, postponed, or switched to an alternative ‘virtual’ format.
It was the second time the Richmond Expo has been canceled or postponed. The biennial trade show, which features one of the largest exhibits of equipment and machinery for logging, sawmills and the pallet industry, is held in Richmond, Virginia and is organized by the Virginia Forest Products Association. Originally it was scheduled to be held in May of this year, but in the face of the pandemic it was postponed until October. In late June the association announced the show would be canceled and rescheduled for May 2021.
“Our top priority is the safety and health of our exhibitors, guests, staff, vendors and community,” the association said in an announcement posted on its website. “We encourage all to adhere to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
The International Woodworking Fair posted an announcement on its website saying the decision was made by the trade show management team and the event’s management committee, whose members represent the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America and the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association. The event had been planned for Aug. 25-28 in Atlanta.
“The decision to cancel North America’s oldest and largest woodworking event could not and did not come easily,” said the announcement. “At the same time, the conditions and circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic – including accompanying travel restrictions and federal, state and local governmental regulations – have made it impossible to stage IWF 2020 without endangering the health and safety of all exhibitors, attendees and the Atlanta community at large.”
The risk of tens of thousands of visitors gathering for the indoor event and amplifying the spread of COVID-19 “is absolutely unacceptable,” organizers said. The next International Woodworking Fair will be held in 2022.
The International Conference on Wood Adhesives had been scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 2 in Portland, Oregon, and the Woodsmen’s Field Days would have been held Aug. 21-23 in Booneville, N.Y.
In an announcement on the National Hardwood Lumber Association website that its annual convention Sept. 23-25 in Louisville, Kentucky, would be canceled, CEO Lorna Christie said it was a “difficult decision” following “careful and deliberate discussion” by the NHLA board in concert with its executive and conventions committees.
“The decision to cancel the in-person convention was a tough one,” she said, “but a necessary one since state gathering restrictions and international travel restrictions made the event no longer viable. We are also comforted knowing our hardwood community is not being put in harm’s way with the novel coronavirus, for that would be a burden we could not bear.”
She hinted that the association is considering another option, such as a ‘virtual’ format. “The NHLA Convention Committee is currently identifying the best way to move forward regarding an alternative to the in-person meeting,” said Christie. “Our goal is to provide the best solution and value for all. We will let you know as soon as we have more information.”