30 Mar Garden Show Records Strong Attendance
Despite the freakish snow storm during its opening days, determined garden show devotees braved snow and ice to for their traditional celebration of spring at the 2011 Northwest Flower & Garden Show. The show posted strong attendance, record exhibitor participation and a major increase in “room night” stays by out-of-town visitors during its five-day run at the Washington State Convention Center, February 23-27.
Although there were winter road conditions throughout the region, the show drew 50,018 attendees—a small drop from 53,000 in 2010. “There’s no doubt weather impacted our opening days, but huge weekend crowds, especially on Sunday, enabled us to make-up ground,” said show producer Terry O’Loughlin. Attendance in 2010 was comparable to the previous three years under the ownership of show founder Duane Kelly, according to O’Loughlin.
A sold-out line-up of 350 exhibitors reported strong sales, and the show generated over 2,000 “room nights” in downtown Seattle hotels, up from approximately 700 last year. “Attendees and exhibitors from throughout the region took advantage of excellent rates offered by our downtown Seattle hotel partners and packages offered by tour companies,” said O’Loughlin. “We intend to build on that base in 2012.”
With 24 expansive display gardens, more blooming flowers and exotic plants, over 120 quality seminars presented in a new, larger venue, and a new family-friendly attraction—the PlayGarden sponsored by U.S. Bank—the show generated critical acclaim from attendees, participants and members of the media. Show Judges Lucy Hardiman and Cole Burrell, both very familiar with many prior shows, proclaimed the show gardens the “best ever.” (Lucy and Cole both substituted on a moment’s notice for two show judges that had to cancel at the last minute due to illness.) Judge Panayoti Kelaidis declared the show to be as good as – or even better – than the largest US show and even those in London.
Seminar audiences gave a resounding two thumbs up to the new Conference Center, delighted that they no longer had to wait in line for seminar passes. Attendees could breeze in and breeze out of the spacious seminar rooms at their leisure and all three rooms are now located on the same floor. Although the Rainier Room, which now seats 800, up from 360 seats, was almost full during the most popular speakers, such as Ciscoe Morris and celebrity chef Graham Kerr, everyone who wanted a seat was able to get one.
“In our second year as producers of the show, we’re gratified by the response to this year’s event. It’s a tremendous team effort by all involved –and planning is already under way for 2012,” said O’Loughlin. The show announced its theme for 2012, “A Floral Symphony…Gardens Take Note,” providing an artistic foundation for garden creators participating in next year’s show, which will be held earlier in the month, on February 8 – 12, 2012.
The Northwest Flower & Garden Show was founded in 1989, and is now produced by Northwest-based, family-owned O’Loughlin Trade Shows (http://www.otshows/), one of the largest consumer show producers in the United States. You can watch for upcoming garden show announcements on www.gardenshow.com and also follow us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/gardenshow and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/NWFGS. After all, there’s only 314 days until the next show! – Janet