The International Woodworking Fair, scheduled for Aug. 25-28 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, will proceed as planned, according to show management.
“IWF 2020 is growing, on track and on plan for opening day Tuesday, Aug. 25. With the largest footprint in show history, attendee registration on par with 2018, demand for exhibit space expanding and all-new branding powering the marketing push, IWF 2020 is set to deliver another winner,” according to a statement on the show’s website, iwfatlata.com, in April.
IWF says it is closely monitoring developments relating to COVID-19 in line with local and national health authorities and public health advice from the CDC and WHO, and that it’s prepared to make any significant changes if needed.
In April, Woodshop News spoke with several regular exhibitors about their thoughts towards this year’s event. Some can’t wait and some can.
“Stiles Machinery is optimistic, at this point in time, about IWF 2020 and the chance to interact with attendees. Although it is early to have a clear picture, we know that for North America’s largest woodworking show to take place, major safety precautions will need to be implemented and followed,” says Christina Elsenbroek, Stiles’ marketing coordinator. “We are planning proactively to accommodate distancing guidelines within our booth and are considering adjustments to our booth layout. Prior to the current situation, our industry was thriving. We are looking forward to IWF continuing to contribute to the great growth we’ve seen over the past few years.”
Chris Hoffman, Lamello product manager for Colonial Saw, says the company is also looking forward to exhibiting. However, he projects that, aside from social distancing reservations, some attendees might not find time to participate.
“My belief is that the residential woodworking market is going to recover and prosper quite rapidly due to pent-up demand after COVID restrictions have been substantially eased. Those shops will likely be both so grateful to be back at work 100 percent and pressured by the need to quickly make up for lost time and revenue, that they may not be inclined to take a few days off during what could be the early days after the lifting of work restrictions,” says Hoffman.
Pat Raynor of Grizzly Industrial/Woodstock International says representatives from the companies are planning to visit IWF as attendees.
“We will probably have at least two product managers attend the show for exploring new products. Grizzly is always adding things, and we’re looking for new products. We’re looking forward to doing shows. We’re also getting ready for the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas in September. Even if we’re looking at small things like something new in clamps, it’s still important,” says Raynor.
“All the shows that we were going to attend this year, with the exception of IWF, have been cancelled, so we’re going day by day, week by week and seeing what happens,” says Robert Witter, president of Oneida Air Systems. “If medical experts say it’s okay and the curve is way down and things are back to normal, then we will probably go, but we can’t really project out that far to August right now.”
Riccardo Azzoni of Atlantic Machinery has never missed exhibiting at IWF since 1984 but says he’s still not sure about this year because of two issues.
“Number one the health issue and how the show management expects to enforce social distancing, when you typically have crowded escalators and stairs bringing attendees to the show floor and relatively narrow corridors between exhibit booths on both sides. In my opinion it will not be possible,” says Azzoni.
“Number two is whether international companies, representing both manufacturers and visitors, will be allowed to travel to the U.S. If you are an importer like we are, you will typically need the support of manufacturers at the show, otherwise it could be difficult to have a successful show, since customers come to see what’s new and exciting in technology and problem solving. The world has been turned upside down. It’s a difficult decision to make.”
The IWF has made various accommodations for exhibitors such as extending the due date for final exhibit space and promotional advertisement payments from May 5 to June 5.
This article originally appeared in the June 2020 issue.