Double Down on River Rock Pays Off!

By Jerry Rousseau, WCTA Executive Director

Our 56th Annual Conference and Trade Show is now in the history books!  With post-production work nearly complete, we wanted to share highlights through imagery and a little bit of commentary for good measure.

As then WCTA President Peter Sorokovsky announced after the 2018 conference, it was an easy Board decision to return to the River Rock in 2019.  I would add it wasn't much of a gamble when both delegates and exhibitors were 100% behind a second year at this one-of-a-kind venue.  The question then was how to build on such a successful show?

Undoubtedly the organizing committee and staff were challenged but the basics were obvious, put together a world class education program, add some fun-filled networking events, bring in 50 energetic turf industry suppliers, service providers and sponsors, and make a few tweaks based on what was learned the first time round. 

For those who attended, thank you for participating and for your tremendously positive feeback, it looks like we got it right!  For those who weren't able to be with us, you just might have one more shot to experience the River Rock in 2020 but that announcement is still a few weeks away...
Four Pre-Conference Seminars kicked off the program on Wednesday followed by one of the most popular functions, our annual President's Reception:

Management consulting guru, Kaylee Hansen, puts a modern narrative to Stephen Covey's '7 Habits of Highly Effective People'.

We'd heard good things about Jerad Minnick, founder of the Natural Grass Advisory Group, and he did not disappoint with his 'Grass Can Take More' pre-con session.

Interesting perspective!  Stan Kazymerchyk's hands and chin seen here getting the Turf 101 session going along with fellow turf management instructor Jason Pick (not in photo, hands and chin were unavailable)

Outstanding food & beverage service at the River Rock makes for a great way to wrap up day 1 with friends and colleagues.
Thursday is busy with a full day of education, AGM luncheon, afternoon trade show opening and the Dave Creamer Memorial Hockey Game. 

TSN's Bob Weeks (left) delivers the conference opening keynote and WCTA President Peter Sorokovsky delivers a custom putter by Kayson Golf in appreciation.

Argubably one of the best presentations we've ever had, Grant Cantin, Wimbledon Head Groundsman, provides rare behind-the-scenes insight into what it takes to prepare for the world's most famous professional tennis tournament.  

Impressive focus by participants of this session, must have been early in the day!
Annual General Meeting

Reviewing the annual finances can be a bit dry for AGM goers.  Keeping it serious but adding a good dose of wit, Finance Director Travis Olson performs the task to a very high standard.   


A lifetime of achievement is recognized at the AGM as Peter Sorokovsky (left) presents Jim McGarvey, Seymour Golf Club (retired) a WCTA Life Member Award.  Congratulations Jim and may all your winter days be filled with powder! (Jim's a big skier BTW)


Student achievements were also recognized at the AGM, in cold hard cash!  This year's award winners were Jenna Rose - $1250 (not in attendance), Ksenia Thurston - $750 (left) and Jason Morgan - $500 (right), congratulations!
Trade Show

I'll take 20 swingjoints, a dozen compression couplers, 6 of those 2" valves, hey what's that blue thing do, a box of 3" saddles...

Two, make it three, thumbs up for the robot mower!

The trade show floor was re-jigged this year and it worked out much better.  Here's a bird's eye view.
Our 20th Annual Silent Auction gets underway.

We are very pleased to announce $7,986 was raised by this year's silent auction besting last year's total of $6,418 by a significant margin.  Thank-you WCTA Life Member Syd Pickerell and wife Janice for getting the job done!

The Dave Creamer Memorial Hockey Game saw some good action and was fast paced right from the first face-off.  The student scholarship fundraiser pitted the infamous Islanders against the battling Blackhawks!

Thanks to our volunteer refs Jason Pick and Jim Connolly, the puck drops here!

"Hi Mom!" or 2nd possible caption, "Put me in Coach."

A very special thanks to Daryl Nagy from Oackreek Golf and Turf who organized the game once again this year.  We'd like to thank all the players, spectators and sponsors who supported the game.  

Who won you ask?  The Dave Creamer Memorial Scholarship of course!
Some random shots..



The KPU Turf Management students are a big part of our event.  If you're looking for an employee who goes beyond expectations, I've let them each know the WCTA would be happy to provide a reference.  Here's a brief note from new WCTA President, Travis Olson to Stan Kazymerchyk, Kwantlen Turf Management Instructor doing just that:

On behalf of the WCTA, I just wanted to pass along our sincere ‘Thank You’. Your students did an absolutely amazing job in helping us put the conference on this year. I’m sure you are very proud of them. Without help from you and your students we wouldn’t be able to run the conference anywhere near the level we currently do. 

The volunteer students save us a great deal in extra staffing costs, which we are able to put towards things like bringing in better speakers and helping us improve the overall education program.  The money they raise for turf research is the largest single largest donation we receive from any group each year for the last 8-9 years running. Fundraising efforts have been a huge part of research funding in Western Canada and the Pacific North West, and I want you to know that it is really making a difference. It's pretty amazing when a group of students are able to contribute in such a big way to the betterment of all our careers in this industry.

I’m sure they know this, but the show is also a great opportunity for them to showcase how hard they work. There are many potential employers at the conference who will notice these things, and I am certain they impressed many of those people this year.

Please pass this on to your students who did such a great job, we hope to see them again next year!

Thanks Stan,

Travis Olson
WCTA President

From right to left:  Colin Stairs, Josh Carlsen, Kaleb Fisher, Peter Sorokovsky who snuck in the shot somehow, Duncan Longridge, Jason Morgan and Ksenia Thurston.
Big Finish - Unfortunately all good things must come to an end.  At show closing, our final keynote, Stephen Keating from the Toro Company, gave a powerful address and then we gave away a bunch of prizes.  It all happened fast so we may get a few of these wrong but congrats to the following:

$500 Casino Chip  - Ray Popoff
$250 River Rock Gift Card - Jacob Dueck
WCTA membership - Mike Ryan
Green Label Scotch courtesy THP - Andre Dionne
bottle of Vodka courtesy Western Turf Farms - ???
Golf Balls - ???
Toro shirt - Derek Wirth
WCTA beer glasses - Arlene McWilliams-Protz, Bob Kains, Ksenia Thurston, Ernie Whitelaw, Stan Kaz, Hugh Norris, Brian Thomas, Rober Jensen, Malcolm McDougall, Mark Lloyd and Cody Inkster

The Toro Company's Steve Keating (right) lets President Peter Sorokovsky know his speaker gifts, Green Label scotch and green WCTA tie, are the wrong colour! (Mountain Dew not part of gift package but also wrong colour)

Finally, we would like to introduce our 2019/2020 Board of Directors and thank outgoing Directors, Jason Pick and Norley Calder, for their tremendous service to the industry.

From left to right: Peter Sorokovsky, Cam Watt, Jed McGeachie, Gary Bartley, Travis Olson, Davin Marr, Andre Dionne (Nik Wall and Stu Carmichael missing)

Thanks and see you all again next year!