UK’s voice of agricultural shows celebrates 60th Autumn Conference
October 27 2016
A collaboration of minds and a wealth of experience in the field, are proving a formidable force in the staging of the Association of Shows and Agricultural Organisation’s anniversary Conference this year.
For the first time ever, the ASAO’s prestigious annual networking event has been organised by a team of one-day show organisers from the Honiton, Mid Devon, Totnes and Yealmpton shows, who are staging the event in 2016.
The ASAO, which represents the UK’s agricultural shows industry, came into being in 1923, and is celebrating its 60th National Conference this year.
Given its location on the beautiful English Riviera in ‘cream tea country’, this year’s gathering has been aptly named ‘Jam on Top’ and takes place at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay from Sunday 6th – Tuesday 8th November.
It’s an opportunity for around 130 ASAO member delegates, who’ll be travelling to Devon from all over the UK, to immerse themselves in an exciting and worthwhile programme of industry presentations and panel sessions.
Main keynote speakers this year include international sports presenter Nick Brooks-Ward, who was Lead Project Manager for HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations and the UK’s National Commemorative Event which marked the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
He’ll be joined by Meurig Raymond, President of the NFU and long-standing advisor to the Government.
Aside from the business of show business, there are plenty of opportunities for delegates to see the beauty of the surrounding area and enjoy a snapshot of Devon life.
Demand for trade stand space at the Conference is high, and there is already a waiting list for 2017. ‘Speed Trading’, another first for the event, is an inspiring initiative designed to give traders and suppliers a bit of a voice.
Exhibiting companies are being given the chance to pitch (for 30 seconds only) their show services and products to delegates, with allocated 1:1 follow-up slots later on in the day.
Not surprisingly, take-up has been excellent, and the opportunities for making business connections look promising.
Industry figures suggest that around six million people – 10% of the population – visit agricultural and country shows in the UK each year, and each show is an important platform for both education and trade within the sphere of food and farming.
Said ASAO Chairman, Christine Knipe: “Our organisation is now widely known as the voice of the UK’s agricultural shows industry, we are committed to bringing our members together to ensure an ongoing exchange of ideas and information, and a continual strengthening of its dedication to good practice.
The ASAO National Conference and ASAO learning days are informed and shaped by feedback from our members, and the Devon one-day shows team has done a great job in putting together an appealing programme to entice them to take part.
It is of course, vital to ensure that opportunities like this are as accessible as possible to our member societies, so the Association’s Council has contributed £5000 in subsidies this year, with that in mind.”
‘Jam On Top’ has its own mascot, Conference The Moose, who has been promoting the event through the ASAO’s social media channels, and has many sponsors and supporters from the event industry.
Said Conference Organiser Carolyn Branton, a volunteer and former Show Secretary of the Mid Devon Show: “My first introduction to the ASAO Conference was as a complete novice in the agricultural show world, and I found that sharing the experience of my peers and connecting with other show secretaries was invaluable in terms of advice and relationship-building.
Although I now have 20 years of experience, I still learn so much at the event and have been able to take back new ideas, implement them at our own show and made it better as a result.
Working with the Jam on Top team this year has been a revelation. Everyone is enthusiastic, and has been very willing to take on tasks and support each other with time and their own experience, and we appreciate the support of the ASAO. It’s been a challenge, but a whole lot of fun too!”
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