BTME in the spring: It was strange, but reassuring at the same time, to arrive in Harrogate for BTME 2022. After a gap of 26 months since the last edition, which seemed like an absolute lifetime, it was great to see so many familiar faces and catch up with friends and acquaintances alike. Given the last two years, every returned smile – it was a mask free show – was proof that the deliverer of that smile had come through Covid and was still standing.
What was strange, though, was that it was all happening, not just at the end of March, but during a hot spell. The weather was lovely and seeing people enjoying themselves in pavement cafes and bars just added to the weirdness of it all.
As for the BTME itself. So much was as usual. Even the most skilled navigator could be seen examining the wall maps trying to establish not just where they were going but where they were. The multiple halls – complete with two Reds – are a feature of the Harrogate International Centre and very much the price you pay to enjoy everything else about the Harrogate experience.
It wouldn’t be unfair to hold up the NEC Hall, in which SALTEX is held, as a superior venue, but then that particular corner of Birmingham doesn’t possess what Harrogate offers. In an ideal world someone would come up with an NEC-style Hall in a Harrogate-style location.
That wonderful weather was, however, a doubled edged sword. Yes, it was great for those who were in and around Harrogate, but it was also perfect golf course prep weather, and warm enough to encourage grass growth. So many regular attendees had to remain back at their courses. A common opinion was that it was the Course Managers and Head Groundsmen who made the trip leaving behind the team to get on with the work, so the quality of visitor was high.
It did mean, however, a drop in visitor, and stand, numbers which will impact on BIGGA’s bottom line.
To be fair to BIGGA, and CEO Jim Croxton, there was no attempt to disguise the figures, instead embracing the fact that the BTME had returned and that so many had, in fact, made the effort to attend.
For those who prefer the lightweight shirt to the heavyweight jacket there is disappointment as BTME will return to its regular January slot in 2023.
One interesting aside. There was a significant number of people who Covid while in Harrogate. I remained clear but I heard of at least six people, with whom I had one-to-one chats during the three days, who subsequently tested positive.
We are not out of the woods and have to remain ever vigilant.
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