Garden Expo springs to life in Fairfield
Updated 7:14 pm, Sunday, March 20, 2011
If the 75-degree temperature Friday wasn't a reminder that spring arrived Sunday evening, the 13th annual Garden Expo in Fairfield this weekend should suffice.
Hundreds of gardeners and those just anxious to see an array of spring colors after a long and snow-heavy winter wandered among booths of more than 90 vendors and non-profit organizations on Saturday and Sunday at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
"I love looking at all the crafts, and spring time makes you want to go out," said Flo Mercer of Fairfield.
"I look around and I want to buy everything, of course. The glass is unusual. It's something unique," said Ulla Altieri of Fairfield, speaking of colorful glass wind-chimes from a company called, appropriately, Unique Glass Chimes. That vendor carries birdhouses too, as does Birdhouse Brokerage. The latter booth looked like a city of wooden bird residences of various sizes and styles.
"People love our birdhouses so we keep building them," said Craig Andrews.
The Garden Expo includes a variety of crafts, flowers and informational vendors, among them representatives from the Farmer's Cow, who offered free samples of the Connecticut agricultural cooperative's ice cream; Well Lit, a landscape lighting design and installation company, and North American Power, a discounted electricity program.
"We go to other expos throughout New England and this one is representative of the genre," said Chris Wocell of Fairfield, who attended the Garden Expo with his wife Connie. "You've got a nice mix of local artists and horticulturists and other elements, such as the lighting, whereas the other expos have an emphasis on landscaping. This is like a garden show and an art exhibit at the same time," Chris Wocell said.
Gay Gasser, one of the originators of the Garden Expo, said, unlike the professional garden and flower shows, the local event has a "sweet appeal" because the vendors are not just there for their livelihood. "We try to find people that have a passion for what they do," Gasser said.
Ann Marie Brucia, the show's event planner, said the Garden Expo started in 1999 with about 20 vendors and has grown to nearly 100 now. It attracts about 3,000 people over the two days and raises funding for the non-profit organization Mill River Wetland Committee's River-Lab, an environmental education program for Fairfield school children. Brucia said the Garden Show has become so popular that the committee had to turn away about 15 vendors this year.
"It's a very good show. It's got a lot of variety and people come from all over the state to participate and shop," said Shar Landers of Landers Landscaping in Norwalk, who has set up shop at the event for the last four years.
Sue Dammeyer, of Bungalow Basics in Fairfield, was a first-time vendor. "This is new for us; a new audience," she said.
Richard Moore, of Moorefield Herb Farm in Shelton, sold plants and offered growing tips, while directly across from his booth, the employees of Black Meadow Flora sold colorful orchids. "There's such symmetry and depth in each one. They make me smile," said Colleen Meyer, who works for Black Meadow Flora.