Last month, Las Vegas showcased its newest attraction. The Sphere at The Venetian Resort was turned on for the very first time.
The sphere is 366 feet high and 516 feet wide. With a total of 875,000 square feet, it will be the largest spherical building anywhere in the world. The exterior uses 1.2 million small, programmable LED lights. This feature was showcased when the switch was flipped and tourists and residents alike were astonished to see realistic renderings of a giant life-size basketball, a human eyeball, and the American flag displayed on the exterior of the sphere. I imagine it really was an incredible sight to see.
The interior of the sphere will have the largest 16K resolution LED screen in the world. It will also feature over 150,000 speakers. Sound will even be delivered through the floorboards. Additional 4-D technologies will be used to mimic scent and the wind. All of these sophisticated resources are being used to create a more immersive experience for the consumer.
As humans we want to connect with the things around us through sight, taste, sound and touch. This idea is what makes Disney theme parks stand out above many of their competitors. They focus on the small details that allow you to feel a part of the story in a personal way.
Fifty years ago, a group of trailblazers in the Oregon nursery industry had an idea to create a trade show locally. The first Farwest Show took place in 1973 with targeted ads proclaiming, “All Roads Lead to Portland.” The goal was to create a world-class trade show that allowed growers, customers, sales reps and business partners to come together; to create an immersive experience with the people and places that produce the quality plant material they have come to expect.
I have attended the Farwest Show since I was a child. I followed my Dad around, mesmerized, watching him in his element. It seemed like he would interact with every person in every booth.
The relationships created and built upon at the show were critical for him as an individual and a business owner. Through these interactions, Dad would leave with a better barometer of the health of the nursery industry in Oregon. He would see upcoming business trends that would excite him, and come away more edified and engaged from having spent time interacting with the best this industry has to offer.
Dad has since passed on, but I still look for the familiar faces of those great people he would visit with — folks like Bob Fessler of Woodburn Nursery & Azaleas, Mark and Jolly Krautmann of Heritage Seedlings and Liners, and Ray Klupenger of Klupenger’s Nursery and Greenhouses.
Ray passed away in 2022, but we are fortunate to have Karen, his daughter, work as one of our managers.
Following my father’s example, I bring my family to the Farwest Show. It’s an event we look forward to every August. When they were young, my children would race from table to table collecting as much swag as possible and often would come away with way more candy than what they could score on Halloween.
The Farwest Show marked the last few days of summer break. It gave our family the perfect opportunity to connect and reflect.
Usually, after the final show, we would treat the children to dinner at a special restaurant and talk about the upcoming school year. We would share our hopes and dreams, make plans and goals, and renew our commitment to helping each other be our best. This became the highlight of summer break, and we looked forward to it each year.
Fifty years later, and all roads STILL lead to Portland. The Farwest Show this year, as it has been in the past, will be an immersive experience. Throughout the week, there will be tours, networking events, social events, guest speakers, seminars and specialized training for you to participate in. There will be continued opportunities to sell nursery stock, visit with old friends and make new friendships that could very well last for generations.
And just maybe, if you’re lucky, you will see a young child following their dad — or a bunch of kids racing from booth to booth searching for the best swag and candy.
One thing’s for certain, it will be the highlight of summer! I look forward to seeing you there.
I invite you to make plans to come to the Farwest Show. Come and celebrate, connect and catch the wave of optimism. I can’t wait to see you there.
Todd Nelson, OAN President (2022-2023)
President’s Message from the August 2023 issue of Digger magazine | Download PDF