It’s time for the AWFS Fair, featuring seminars, belt sander races and, of course, the latest equipment, supplies and services for the woodworking industry. Sponsored by the Association of Woodworking and Furnishing Suppliers, the AWFS Vegas Fair takes place July 24-27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center .
With pre-registration up approximately 20 percent from 2011’s event— which boasted an overall registered attendance of nearly 8,500 — and a projected 500 exhibitors thus far, this year’s AWFS Fair reflects the resurgence of productivity and profitability in the woodworking industry, said AWFS Executive Vice President Angelo Gangone.
“The general tone of the woodworking industry is better than it has been in over two years,” Gangone said. “Based on what we’ve been tracking for booths sold and pre-registration sales, we’re expecting to be ahead of last show’s numbers.”
While all the staples attendees and exhibitors have come to expect will be present at AWFS Fair, there’s no shortage of new features and enhancements for this year’s event.
The most visible change for attendees and visitors alike is the combining of the machinery and supply halls. The new floor plan for the Central Hall is designed to improve foot traffic and make it easier for attendees to move from equipment to supplies.
“The layout is so much better than it’s ever been since we put everything into one hall,” explained Gangone of the expanded look to the show floor. “Attendees will be able to see more wood products than they have at the last show, which is great because some of our exhibitors have expanded their room space from a few years ago. This shows an increased confidence in the market overall and in the industry.”
New Look for Events
Attendees also will notice many of the events expanded and enhanced from past shows. For example, the smartSHOP, a fully operational cabinet shop with automated functions, returns with the addition of panel and solid wood processing.
Even the popular BSRA National belt sander races will receive an upgrade. Held July 25 at 4:00 in Booth #9746, the event will feature the traditional race competition, but also a Crash and Smash Demolition Derby. The belt sander races and derby are sponsored by the Beltsander Assn., Accuride International and AWFS.
The New Product Awards get a facelift as well, along with a name change to the AWFS Visionary New Product Awards. Of the change, Gangone said, “We’re looking to honor people who are going to make products that have a positive and long lasting influence on the industry. Whether it’s on the supply side or the equipment side, it doesn’t matter. Vision is applicable to all products.”
The judging of the award has been modified as well, with finalists selected prior to the event by a volunteer panel of woodworking manufacturing professionals. And instead of awarding plaques as has been the case for previous events, a new Visionary Award statue will be given to recipients. Designed by AWFS board member Archie Thompson, the award will pay homage to the many visionaries in the field, dating all the way back to the Renaissance Era.
In keeping with the visionary theme, the AWFS Fair continues to host student programs highlighting the talents of future generations. Most prominent is the return of the Fresh Wood student design competition.
The competition draws hundreds of projects from high school and post-secondary school students in woodworking programs. Projects will be displayed in the Gallery area, with the awarding of the winners in each category, along with Best of Show and People’s Choice, to be announced July 26 at 4:00, in the AWFS Theatre. Tommy Mac will host the ceremony.
Education Remains Key
AWFS Fair again offers an extensive educational program. This year’s program consists of eight tracks and 50 sessions as part of its AWFS College of Woodworking Knowledge program. The tracks are targeted for different segments of the market, including production and custom woodworking, and include: Business Management, Cabinet/Millwork, Small Shops Ten & Under, Software & Technology, Techniques & Applications, Safety & Environment, Handcrafted Furniture; and a special Teacher Track.
“The most effective ways we target [production versus custom woodworkers] is with some of the different seminars, whether it has to do with the production process or business element within that,” said Nancy Fister, AWFS Education and Conference director. Additional information on the seminar programs can be found at AWFSFair.org.
As part of the education services, Continuing Education Units will once again be offered and certificates can be printed on site. The goal is to increase exposure to the CEU program since very few attendees have taken advantage of it in past years, Fister said.
“All they have to do is step out into the hallway where we have a special area set up for registration, and they can scan their badge and it will pop out a certificate right there, it’s as easy as that,” said Fister. “We have a growing number of teachers attending the show, so awareness and accessibility for the CEU offerings means a lot to them.”
AWFS Fair Information At A Glance
Dates July 24-27, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, NV.
Times Hours are 9-5, Wednesday through Friday, and 9-3 on Saturday
Contact For more information on the show, visit AWFSFair.org or phone (800) 946-2937.
Highlights Belt Sander Races & Demolition Derby, July 25 at 4:00, Booth #9746.
Visionary Awards: Finalists will be determined prior to the show, with winners named July 26.
Fresh Wood Student Design Contest. View projects in the Gallery area. Awards ceremony will be July 26 at 4:00 in the AWFS Theatre.
2013 WorldSkills Cabinetmaking Qualifying Trial Booth #9251. Winner named July 27 at 11:00.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.