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Extra show day on Friday not an option

Potato Europe goes ahead today (Thusday) 8am - 8pm

The Netherlands is experiencing the worst autumn storm since 2013 at the moment. Between 09:00 and 10:00, the area experienced winds with an average speed of 10 Bft, officially making this a heavy storm. A huge blow for exhibitors, visitors and the organisers of Potato Europe, which was cancelled for today. The PotatoEurope organisers expect activities to resume on Thursday, 14 September.

Many businesses in the region made the best of a bad situation by inviting visitors to come and visit their businesses. The organisers reported that exhibition grounds were not accessible today either. They are looking at the possibility of extending the expo's hours on Thursday. An extension to Friday has been ruled out. Parking at the exhibition grounds is not available, not even with a parking token. They are looking for a parking location elsewhere in Emmeloord. Shuttle buses ferry visitors to the fair.

"We do not have permission to have the trade fair if winds are stronger than a 7. We made this decision with the Noordoostpolder City Council and the Pieperfestival and announced it at 16:00 on Tusday", says Paulien Hoftijzer, one of Potato Europe's organisers. She understands the decision taken. "Safety first". It was never an option to move the fair to Friday. "Our exhibitors had organised heavy transport to move their machines. These had already been booked for other events on that day. In addition, we do not have permission to hold the fair on Friday. The City Council still  to give to go-ahead to extend the show's hours on Thursday, today."

Marcel Oldenziel, of the weighing and packaging manufacturer, Manter, who was at the show grounds last Tuesday, building their stand, said then already that there was trouble brewing. "From a safety perceptive, it is the right decision. The whole fair takes place in tents of various sizes. A strong wind could cause a life-threatening situation. I am curious to see how they will organise Thursday since it is wet on the show grounds. The organisers can, of course, not do anything about the weather; but it is a shame. Four years ago the circumstances were also not very good. One should, therefore, have looked at future events. A day less, such as this, is a waste of money."

A Scottish potato trader reported that many of their international clients cancelled their trips to the fair. He is trying to make up for this by driving to see his clients. There is no discussion with regard to the safety considerations. "It is, however, a huge disappointment when you have spent thousands of euros on a stand and travelling costs." The location is also not up for discussion. "Emmeloord is at the centre of Dutch potato production, and is a great location for the event. You cannot guarantee the weather anywhere in Europe at this time of the year."

Johan Verhagen of Verhagen Holland from Dinteloord, who was supposed to unveil their new corporate identity today, understands the reasons for the cancellation. "A mayor cannot take any risks. Of course, it is frustrating, but you have to respect that. I did hear that the wind was not very strong in Emmeloord this morning, but that they did have a tremendous amount of rain."

Jaap Kodde of Flevostar Potato did not have a stand at the show, but he received a lot of visitors recently. "There are visitors from all over the world, so it is disappointing. I understand why the show was not allowed to take place today. The organisers must, however, think very well about the future. The weather was bad during the previous tow editions as well. People needed 30 cm high wellingtons to be able to walk on the grounds. This was pointed out to the orgnaisers. There are also alternatives. We have very nice event grounds available in Dronten (Walibi). They are having a big vegetable techniques show there at the moment, with no problems."

Stephanie Hulshoff of Jasa Packaging Systems also understands the cancellation. "These weather conditions are unpredictable. Our criticism is that they should have announced the cancellation earlier. There were warnings the whole day yesterday about the storm, why wait until the end of the day to report about it. Then we could have given our clients, with whom we had appointments, earlier notice too."

For those visiting the fair tomorrow - don't forget your boots!

Publication date: 9/13/2017


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