Pondemonium 2022 returned live and in-person at the Q Center in St. Charles, Illinois, after the pandemic had forced the popular pond training event to be hosted online for two consecutive years. Aquascape excitedly welcomed and hosted hundreds of contractors, retailers and distributors from around the world from Aug. 27 – 30, 2022.
The event theme was “Rising Tribe” to honor the spirit and camaraderie of water professionals everywhere who contribute to the trend of ponds, waterfalls and fountains in landscapes, from residential to commercial locations. Pondemonium 2022 included numerous networking opportunities, hands-on training sessions, small-group discussions and workshop classrooms for everyone from the novice to the advanced water-feature professional.
Pondemonium opened with both VIP and self-guided pond tours throughout the Chicagoland area on Saturday and Sunday. Those not attending the tours could participate in the full-day “Content Creation Best Practices” course that featured popular digital influencers Kenan Harkin of Kamp Kenan, Luke Hagopian of Luke’s Goldies, Stanley Genadek of Landscape Disruptors, and Justin Fox of Foxterra Designs. The day wrapped up with an inspirational keynote given by retired Wheaton College football coach Mike Swider.
Attendees were transported from the Q Center to Aquascape headquarters on Monday for a day of hands-on training. Certified Aquascape Contractors were taught advanced principles and construction techniques for wetland filtration, while foremen and those new to the industry participated in hands-on waterfall building exercises that concluded with a waterfall contest. In addition, Brian Helfrich gave two presentations on the increasing popularity of recreation ponds while highlighting design and construction techniques of the new recreation pond at Aquascape’s AquaGardens.
Tuesday activities returned to the Q Center for early-morning educational and networking discussions, known as Cup of Coffee roundtables. A variety of topics were led by industry experts from around the world. Presentations and discussions included water-feature construction, marketing techniques, bidding and selling principles, staff retention and more. Sessions were moderated by Aquascape staff and Certified Aquascape Contractors who are experts in their featured topic.
Directly after roundtable discussions, Greg Wittstock, owner and CEO of Aquascape, presented his annual state-of-the-industry keynote address to a packed room of water-feature professionals. Classroom sessions followed the keynote and focused on construction, business operations, maintenance procedures and an overview of new Aquascape products for 2023. The evening came to a close with the popular Blow Out Bash.
Awards were presented throughout Pondemonium, with Aquascape top 20 contractors and top 20 retailers awarded “Top Frogs.” The inaugural Rookie of the Year award was given to regional up-and-coming contractors. As in years past, top honors were awarded in six categories:
• Certified Aquascape Contractor of the Year – Jay Duke of Rivercrest Water Gardens in Coward, South Carolina
• Business Persons of the Year – Net and Charlie Ross of Virginia Water Gardens in Fredericksburg, Virginia
• Artist of the Year – Ralph Biezad of Pondscapes AZ in Queen Creek, Arizona
• Conservationist of the Year – Cory Mann of Poseidon Ponds & Landscaping in Dexter, Michigan
• Digital Influencer of the Year – Scott McIlwee of Ponds by Bee Landscaping in Boonsboro, Maryland
• Chris Baker Spirit Award – Alan Decker of Decker’s Pondscapes in Pattersonville, New York
The next Pondemonium event is slated for 2024. In the interim, Aquascape is offering various hands-on training and regional events. For information on Pondemonium and Aquascape training opportunities, visit www.aquascapetraining.com.