Photos courtesy of GIE+EXPO

Each year, professionals flock to Louisville to see the latest and greatest new products and equipment all in one place. Once again, GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America are set for Oct. 17-19 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

The event is already the largest trade show in the green industry and it just keeps getting bigger. Last year, the show featured more than 1,005 exhibits both indoors and out, and this year is shaping up to be even larger. Read on to see what’s in store.

Green & growing

GIE+EXPO is on track to be bigger than ever.

GIE+EXPO and HNA 2018 will take place Wednesday through Friday, Oct. 17-19 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky. Early-bird registration is now open and costs $15 through Sept. 6. According to Kris Kiser, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, exhibit space sales are already running ahead of this time last year and organizers are topping 2017’s record-breaking numbers. In addition, the Outdoor Demonstration Area is expected to meet or exceed last year’s record-breaking 20 acres.

“This year’s show is a must-attend event for industry members who are looking to move their businesses to the next level,” Kiser said. “With the addition of trade show hours for contractors on Wednesday and an incredible keynote on the lineup, GIE+EXPO continues to be an extremely valuable business investment for exhibitors and attendees alike.”

This year, a new format will be implemented, allowing contractors an extra day on the show floor. Following an earlier dealer preview on Wednesday, the indoor exhibits will open for the entire industry from 3 to 7 p.m., including a welcome reception on the show floor beginning at 5 p.m. The indoor exhibits and Outdoor Demonstration Area will be open Thursday and Friday for all industry members.

Admission to Hardscape North America exhibits – both indoors and out – is included with GIE+EXPO registration. This co-location gives landscape professionals the opportunity to see a range of related new products and explore ways to tap into the growing hardscape market. In addition, a $50 upgrade will give landscape pros access to live hardscape demos in the HNA Demo Arena tent, where experts will demonstrate techniques in a continuous build format.

Back by popular demand, the GIE+EXPO workshops will feature 10 sessions to help landscape pros grow their businesses. This year’s lineup will include two hardscape sessions with insights and tips for contractors interested in tapping into that market. Other workshops, which are sponsored by the National Association of Landscape Professionals, include topics such as marketing strategies, safety programs, developing a new generation of professionals and more.

Dr. Robert Ballard

Uncharted territory

Undersea explorer Dr. Robert Ballard will share his stories of discovery and leadership with GIE+EXPO attendees.

World renowned undersea explorer Dr. Robert Ballard is kicking off this year’s GIE+EXPO as the keynote speaker.

The associations that sponsor GIE+EXPO and Hardscape North America have added a new keynote for their 2018 event specifically for landscape and hardscape contractors. The session is set for Wednesday, Oct. 17 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Admission to the keynote, which is sponsored by John Deere, is included with show registration.

One of the greatest undersea explorers of our times, Ballard is best known for his 1985 discovery of the RMS Titanic more than 70 years after it sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. He has conducted more than 140 deep sea expeditions, including the first manned exploration of the Mid-Ocean Ridge, and he is credited with discovering many key chapters of human history, such as German Battleship BISMARCK and President John F. Kennedy’s PT-109. He is a well-known author, a film producer of documentaries, an Explorer in Residence for the National Geographic Society and past host of their TV program “Explorer.”

In Ballard’s presentation, the oceanographer and former U.S. Navy officer will share his stories of exploration, environmental discovery and leadership. With a passion for the last great uncharted territory, Ballard will entertain and motivate as he discusses his discoveries and adventures, which include the 1985 discovery of the Titanic wreckage.

This is the first time that the GIE+EXPO/HNA partners – the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, National Association of Landscape Professionals, Outdoor Power Equipment Institute and the Professional Grounds Management Society – have joined together to co-host their keynote, bringing all of their attendees together in one place to listen to Ballard.

“We are thrilled to be supporting the first ever joint keynote address, with GIE+EXPO and its partners, OPEI, NALP, PGMS and ICPI,” said Ken Taylor of John Deere. “The keynote address promises to be a major highlight of this year’s event and we look forward to welcoming such a distinguished American icon, Dr. Robert Ballard, to the GIE+EXPO stage.”

Chart-topping shows

This year, nightly concerts at 4th Street Live! will bring GIE+EXPO attendees a mix of country, pop, rock and rap music.

After a long day on the trade show floor, attendees can head to 4th Street Live! for the annual live concert series. Back for the fourth year in a row, The Crashers will take the familiar stage, this time on Tuesday evening. The band has been together since 2008 and established national credibility when they performed as the official pre-game band for NBC at Super Bowl XLVI.

The Louisville-based band has become a GIE+EXPO crowd favorite since their first GIE+EXPO performance four years ago.

On Wednesday, country singer Kelleigh Bannen will open for Colt Ford. Bannen has a new EP, “Cheap Sunglasses,” which joins a catalog that already includes a career-launching indie album, “Radio Skies,” and a handful of singles, from “Smoke When I Drink” to “Famous.”

Colt Ford will bring a hybrid of country music, blues, rock and rap to the stage Wednesday night. He recently released his sixth studio album, “Love Hope Faith.” The artist built a following that started with mud trucker events and graduated to arena status sharing the stage with country stars like Toby Keith. Ford co-wrote and originally recorded the song “Dirt Road Anthem” for his debut album “Ride Through the Country.” It was later released by Brantley Gilbert, who co-wrote the song.

The final night of live music kicks off Thursday with the winner of the Nashville North Star competition, MacKenzie Porter. Porter is a musician, actress and singer from Canada. After touring with her brother Kalan Porter, winner of Canadian Idol, as a family band, Porter launched her solo career in 2010 and her debut album, which includes “I Wish I’d Known” and “Never Gonna Let You,” in 2014. She has opened for Kenny Chesney, Doc Walker and Trooper, among others.

Closing the concert series this year is Platinum-artist Jana Kramer. Her debut single, “Why Ya Wanna,” hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and No. 52 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2012. She was also the most played new artist of that year.