EXHIBITION NEWS May 2017 - Page 34

feature Yorkshire forges ahead Following the opening of the new Hall 1, the Yorkshire Event Centre tells EN how the team provide the exhibition industry with the venue’s rural but contemporary charm 34 W ith exhibition venues across the country competing for space, event profs are always on the lookout for the next big thing that showcases their unique offering to organisers. “We always knew that we weren’t going to be the biggest event space in the country, but we want to be sexiest,” Heather Parry, MD of the Yorkshire Event Centre (YEC) tells EN. “We want to be the place where people walk into the loos for example, and smile because they’re made out of recycled bottles and it’s all brightly coloured.” It’s all about making things different, she adds, so it doesn’t all have to be at a massive cost, but it is all about creating a happy experience for everyone. One thing that has created a happy atmosphere in the YEC office is their recent win at the EN Awards. “There’s been a lot of cartwheeling going on since we won the award for Best Venue Under 8,000sqm,” Paul Ashton, head of sales at YEC exclaims. “I’m walking around with the award glued to my hand. I think one of the main reasons why we won was because we’re invested in the industry as well as our offering. Out of the entrants, we were the only brand new venue to have opened – clearly that must have stood us in good stead with the judges.” According to Parry, Yorkshire has always been at the forefront and, particularly with agricultural shows, they are the best in the UK. “We have always been innovative and by having the first showground and investing in it, we’ve got history of positivity and we want to continue that success.” The venue and its heritage support the May 2017 | exhibitionnews.co.uk Yorkshire Agricultural Society, with its profits going to fund the work of the registered charity. The society’s work supports and promotes agriculture and rural communities in the region, through education, support networks and health checks for farmers. “We moved here in 1951, and were the first agricultural society to have an agricultural show that was in the same place,” explains Parry. “Before that, every show used to move around because a lot of people didn’t have transport. So in 1949, our forefathers thought this was getting a bit silly, people are getting better with transport so they bought this Great Yorkshire Showground in 1949 and had the first Great Yorkshire Show here in 1951. “Then we really started investing in facilities in 1993 – that’s when we kicked off with the venue and what we were doing,” she adds. “The first of it was our sister venue, the Pavilions of Harrogate, which has 14 function rooms and then we did Hall 2 in 2000. And then we opened up our own farm shop and café eight years ago so we could sell the best Yorkshire food and drink. We also opened our own caravan site three years ago.” Quite the broad spectrum of things going on in Yorkshire, it seems, all designed to make money for the charity. “Of course, the biggest thing we’ve ever done is open the new hall last year, Hall 1.” Major milestone YEC officially opened its new £11m exhibition hall mid-2016, replacing the original 1960s building, which now includes a café, large foyer, seminar/workshop space and offices, alongside the main exhibition space. According to YEC owner, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, the project is the largest in its 170-year history. Hall 1, which, when combined with Hall 2, is the largest single- span space in the North East of England, includes a 36m glass front elevation, flanked by an 8m high Yorkshire stonewall and an 8m high copper wall. More than 200 guests attended the official opening in June last year, which saw the Bishop of Leeds, the Right Rev Nick Baines, and Parry cut a 30m giant red ribbon to unveil the new hall. “The first exhibition to benefit from the new YEC was co-located Toolfair, Elex and Professional Builder Live, which welcomed record visitor numbers,” says Parry. “From that first event, we have made tweaks and improvements to signage and traffic management to ensure that we are as good as we can be, accommodating customers’ needs. “November was an epic month with just three days without events and lots of late night turnarounds – a great test for the new build and lots of happy customers too.” While the new Hall 1 was being built, the team hired a temporary structure for 45 weeks, to house the regular exhibitions and ensure they could continue to thrive. “It was logistically hard work and our biggest fear was the wind (how we missed bricks and mortar!) but, working closely with our organisers, we ran it successfully and kept everyone happy,” says Parry. Working well with clients and forging partners \\]HQPX[H\H[X] '\\X\[^\ܚ[\\\]\ܙ[\\ܙX]