Farwest Show canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic

An agricultural trade show that attracts 5,000 attendees to Oregon each year and represents the nursery and greenhouse industry — Oregon’s largest agricultural sector by sales — has been canceled due to COVID-19.

The 2020 Farwest Show had been scheduled for August 26–28 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon. The 2019 edition drew attendees from 44 states and 20 countries, including nursery and greenhouse operators, nursery industry suppliers, landscaping professionals, service providers, researchers, students and others. 

The loss of the 2020 show represents an economic hit for local hotels, restaurants and pubs, as well as to Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN), the 501(c)6 nonprofit that produces it. 

The OAN serves Oregon’s $1 billion nursery and greenhouse industry, which leads the nation in production of coniferous evergreens, deciduous shade trees, deciduous flowering trees, cut Christmas trees. The state is #1 in bareroot nursery products, #1 in ball and burlap nursery products, and #3 in containerized nursery products.

“We are very disappointed not to be able to hold Farwest in 2020,” Farwest Show Chairman Patrick Newton of Powell’s Nursery Inc. (Gaston, Oregon) said. “Our show dates back to 1973 and is the biggest nursery trade show in the West. We know what Farwest means to the industry — it’s where nursery professionals from all over the region, the country and the world renew old connections, make new ones, gain new knowledge, advance their careers, find new customers and discover new plants and products. We will now focus on bringing the industry back together for a strong and vital show in 2021.”

OAN leaders initially held off making any decision on the 2020 Farwest Show. Instead, they waited to see how the pandemic might evolve, and how that might affect their ability to produce the show safely and successfully. 

However, on May 7, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced her phased plans for reopening Oregon for business and public life. Included was a stipulation that large public events may not take place in Oregon at least through the end of September, or until treatments or vaccinations for the coronavirus are available. As a result, the Oregon Convention Center determined it could not host the event as scheduled.

The OAN is currently reaching out to exhibitors, partners, sponsors, speakers and others connected with the show to communicate the decision and outline next steps.

“We had exciting plans for the 2020 show and will work hard to make the 2021 show even more exciting and useful,” OAN Director of Events Allan Niemi said. “We have a feeling that people will be more than ready to get together, do business, learn together and celebrate a renewal of the industry’s success.”