Publisher’s note: I came across Mike’s recap of the 2017 Water Garden Expo on Facebook. He did such a great job that we thought we’d lead with his account. Thanks, Mike! I couldn’t have said it better myself. — Lora Lee Gelles
In late winter 2017, during an unusually warm string of sunny days, the conditions were perfect for building a beautiful pond. The conditions were perfect — for Living the Pond Life.
In a town called Shawnee, Oklahoma, a diverse group of pond professionals from across the country gathered for this year’s Water Garden Expo presented by Pondliner.com. The theme, “Living The Pond Life,” was inspired by Karrie Lightsey and encapsulates a philosophy of living, loving and laughing in the pond-keeping lifestyle and profession.
The WGE took place from Feb. 21 to 24 and featured a two-day pond build at the Pondliner headquarters led by The Pond Monster Lloyd Lightsey and Demi Fortuna from Atlantic Water Gardens. Construction was completed by an international group of pond professionals both seasoned and new. Many representatives from major pond equipment manufacturers were on hand during the build as well. (Head over to pg. 34 for a detailed recap of the pond build.)
After the build, the living, loving and laughing moved into the Shawnee Exposition Center for another two days of education, training and networking. Many of the brightest in the pond industry presented their expertise at seminars with topics ranging from fish to finance. Industry professionals like Lightsey, Fortuna, Eric Triplett, Ed Beaulieu, Kelly Billing, Steve Shinholser, Max Taylor, Kip Northrup, Scott Rhodes and many others made themselves available for networking.
More than 25 exhibitors had booths available to greet the pond pros with a variety of discounted show specials, professional services and the newest products and equipment for 2017. Awards for POND Trade magazine’s Water Artisans of the Year were presented, with winners including Fortuna and his sons, Dean Pipito of Aquatica and several others. Helix Life Support named Levy Estrada from Levy Estrada Landscapes the Helix Contractor of the Year. Some great door prizes were distributed to attendees, too.
The theme, “Living The Pond Life,” was clearly embraced by the conference’s attendees, with a lot of living, loving and laughing going on. To learn more about the inspiration behind “Living The Pond Life,” visit www.living-the-pond-life.com and check out their Facebook page and hashtag #livingthepondlife.
The WGE is one of the pond and water gardening industry’s premier educational events, and a fantastic time was had by all. There was even room for plenty of after-hours nightlife, fun, dining and local attractions to peruse. With plans in the making for the 2018 WGE, pond professionals from around the country are already making arrangements to attend. This is certainly not an event to be missed.