The big rumor on the last day of the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas was that actor Johnny Depp was expected to make a surprise visit.

While Depp ultimately disappointed by failing to appear at the show, the show did not disappoint the many thousands of professional woodworkers and suppliers who attended, and the more than 500 companies who exhibited.

The staff of Woodworking Network spoke with dozens upon dozens of exhibitors, the vast majority of which seemed happy to relate that they had a good show. In particular, representatives of larger equipment manufacturers reported selling more equipment than they had anticipated coming into the show. Even less enthusiastic exhibitors were glad they were there.

I wrote a column after last year’s International Woodworking Fair in which I asserted that the U.S. woodworking industry was once again showing signs of life. That positive theme spilled over to events I attended this year, including the Cabinets & Closets Expo, the Stiles Executive Briefing Conference, NeoCon and the AWFS Fair.

Next up is the Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo (WMS), Canada’s largest woodworking event, owned by Vance Communications and set for Oct. 24-26 in Toronto. Considering that Canada took a much less excruciating economic hit than the U.S. did in the recent past, and knowing that booth sales are well outpacing that of WMS 2011, I fully anticipate equal or better optimism on display at WMS in Canada this fall.

While WMS is Canada’s national show, there will be a large number of American companies exhibiting, plus many well-known European-based firms. U.S. woodworkers are welcome to attend, and so is Johnny Depp.

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