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The 2017 Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting and Northwest Hort Expo will be held in Wenatchee, Washington, Dec. 5-7. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower file photo)

The 2017 Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting and Northwest Hort Expo will be held in Wenatchee, Washington, Dec. 5-7. (TJ Mullinax/Good Fruit Grower file photo)

The 2016 Washington State Tree Fruit Association Annual Meeting and Hort Expo—the “Hort Show”—is fast approaching. This year’s event, the 112th, will take place at the Wenatchee Convention Center from Dec. 5-7.

This theme selected by Sam Godwin, the chairman of this year’s meeting, is “The New Normal: Continuous Change.”

While changes have always been a part of our dynamic and competitive industry, their pace will only accelerate with the substantial investments being made in research and the deployment of these advances.

Our goal is to bring the same spirit of continuous improvement to your annual conference and trade show.

One of our challenges is that a substantial portion of our 1,600 meeting attendees arrive at the same time, right before the program begins at 8 a.m. on Monday morning.

Even with a very efficient registration and credential pick-up process, if everyone arrives at once lines will form that can cause attendees to miss the beginning of the program. To alleviate these delays, we are offering an opportunity for early registration pick-up sponsored by Northwest Wholesale.

This service will be available on Sunday, Dec. 4, from 2-6 p.m. in the Wenatchee Convention Center Lobby. If avoiding a line isn’t already enough incentive, those who pick up their packets early on Sunday afternoon will also be entered in a drawing for special prizes.

We also encourage attendees to access Annual Meeting program information and updates via our WSTFA mobile app. Sometimes winter travel can delay a speaker’s arrival, causing last-minute changes to the agenda for a session.

It can be disappointing to find that a speaker you wanted to hear had been moved up in the program and you already missed their presentation.

Our app allows us to send out ongoing schedule updates and notifications so that you won’t miss key events and speakers. We will also be offering opportunities to provide ongoing feedback on the event and speakers through the app, so that you can share your comments and ideas while they are fresh in your mind.

The WSTFA mobile app can be downloaded now at wstfa.org/mobile.

It can often be hard to decide which concurrent session to attend when each has interesting speakers and content.

In 2015, we transitioned from printed to electronic conference proceedings so that our members could have access to recordings of all the presentations at the Annual Meeting.

The electronic proceedings include a recording of the audio of each speaker along with the video of their slide presentations. This is particularly valuable for speakers with significant research data that would otherwise be hard to recall.

The proceedings are available on a flash drive for only $25 and can be ordered when you register or after the conference. Recordings of the 2015 conference are still available as well.

WSTFA’s goal is to make all of the valuable content presented at the Annual Meeting available to our members. However, in the past it has been a challenge to capture the research results presented in the poster session.

This year we are moving to a video poster session, sponsored by Pape Manufacturing.

Presenters will provide brief video updates of their research projects, which will be available for viewing throughout the conference.

There will also be scheduled question and answer sessions when attendees can interact with the presenters. Unlike past poster presentations that were unavailable following the conference, these videos can be made available for ongoing viewing by our members.

Our industry and its annual conference have changed a great deal over the last 112 years, and will no doubt continue to do so in the future.

We are all working hard to ensure that the changes we experience are for the better, and sharing knowledge and experience as an industry is a key means of accomplishing this.

We hope that you will take the opportunity to learn from our program speakers and from each other in Wenatchee this year and that you’ll share your feedback so that we can continue to improve our industry’s most important annual event.

– by Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.