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Northern New England Home, Garden and Flower Show returns

At the Fryeburg Fairgrounds, May 15, 16 & 17

Plant and flower lovers will find an amazing selection of plants this yearís show. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
April 29, 2009
It's time to stop and smell the flowers. Winter is just a memory and spring is bursting out all over. One of the best places to truly feel the exhilaration of our rejuvenating Valley is at the Northern New England Home, Garden and Flower Show, May 15, 16 and 17, held annually at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds. With over 250 exhibitors from the home and garden industry, event organizer Karla Ficker invites you to come to the fair and immerse yourself in beauty, growth and renewal.

Ficker, who hosts the Valley Vision TV show, "All Things Growing," promises that this year's extravaganza will bring back all the old favorites along with plenty of new and exciting participants.

The show opens at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 15, and runs until 6 p.m. Saturday morning it begins at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m., and on Sunday it opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.

Eight buildings are filled with home and energy related businesses, local crafters and fine artists, glorious garden center displays and, for the fifth year, the extremely popular "Meet the Chefs" cooking series. Outside exhibits covering an additional six acres will feature lawn and power equipment, RV's, boats, electric cars and much more.

For the past eight years, the fair has attracted tens of thousands of browsers and buyers. In 2008, Ficker reports, there were over 8,000 attendees. "God willing, and a sunny weekend, we are hoping to break 10,000 this year," she says.

Many patrons look forward to visiting their favorite booths year after year. Last year, organic farmer Amy LeBlanc — from Whitehill Farm in East Wilton Maine, fondly known to all as 'the tomato lady,' — sold out of her 1000 heirloom tomato plants by Friday afternoon.

"Everyone who's ever bought her plants loves them," says Ficker. "She'll be doing a presentation on her farming methods called 'It's all about the flavor.' We have a great seminar series on gardening."

Ficker continues, "I love gardening and it's one of the elements I really wanted to bring into the show. We have 11 garden centers participating. In our 'All Things Growing Seminar Series,' we have incredible tutorials for people just starting out in gardening, how to prep the soil, what sort of soil improvements people should be adding. We try to connect people with the earth. Gardening is such a great family project.

"I'm absolutely passionate about gardening. I want everyone to learn about it. I want my kids to know about it. I just think it's fun. We'll have annuals, perennials, vegetables, organics, garden art, garden artisans, and garden furniture; if it's garden related, it will be there," Ficker added.

The Mountain Garden Club booth draws a lot of attention each year. They always have a spectacular display. This year's theme is an "Afternoon in the Garden." DD Warren, garden club member extraordinaire, says the booth will depict a beautiful outdoor room that anyone can create.

The outdoor room project is a collaborative effort with talented designer Wanda Allen of Creative Expressions. The area features a rustic garden room created with natural elements, birdhouses, decorative garden planters, and vintage architectural elements, all pulled together to create an area that is intimate, interesting and inviting.

Warren says, "An outdoor room provides more room to spread out, a quiet space to read or pass the time in, or to entertain friends and family. The main benefit of adding an outdoor room is that you are able to extend your living area without having to do expensive or time-consuming home renovations and, at the same time, enjoy the beauty of your garden."

The club also raffles off some great prizes to raise funds for their Alice T. Madden Scholarship fund, which benefits students in the MWV area who are pursuing a higher education in any "green" discipline.

They will be raffling off the design elements of the "garden room," as well as major items from the Sound Resort, the Wentworth Golf Club, the Mount Washington Hotel Spa and GDC Landscaping.

Become a Smart Homeowner

In addition to the gardening seminars, there are two other seminar series at the show, one of which is the Smart Homeowner Series.

"We partnered," says Ficker, "with a national on-line magazine called 'Smart Homeowner' Magazine. The mission of Smart Homeowner is to introduce and explain eco-friendly, cutting edge, energy efficient products and businesses."

Expanding this year's roster are many companies presenting innovative alternative energy options. Fair-goers will have the opportunity to talk to experts about saving money while improving the health of the planet. Knowledgeable professionals will be on hand to explain and demonstrate geo-thermal, solar and other cost cutting technologies.

Ficker says, "We have the best speaker on geo-thermal, John Logan, from Water and Energy Distributors. He also did the show last year. We have speakers on solar hot water and wind turbines. These energy seminars are standing room only. I'm going to try to get Valley Vision to tape them because they are very worthwhile for people to see."

"This year," explains Ficker, "there is a 30 percent federal tax credit for anything that's energy related. I really want to get that word out. It's a huge stimulus for our businesses and it's going to save money for the homeowner. It includes windows, new heating systems, new roofs, insulation — anything that's energy related. Plus, for the first-time-homebuyer there is an $8,000 tax credit. We want to get that word out too."

"The other seminar series program," she went on, "is our Meet the Chef seminars. They are such an integral part of the show. We started them five years ago. Chick Home Center, Bay Street Discount Appliances and Viking Appliance are our sponsors. We take over Expo 1 and we create a state of the art kitchen using Chick's beautiful kitchens and Viking appliances. We have theater style seating for about 225 attendees.

"People are given the opportunity to meet chefs from four and five star restaurants and resorts. Each chef prepares one of their signature dishes and shares their kitchen secrets with the audience. This series is a true highlight in all the shows. Meet the Chefs features great chefs from Maine and New Hampshire, fabulous recipes and demonstrations, book signings and is just plain fun to watch. Afterwards, we hand out the recipes or people can download them later from our website.

"We have a professional food emcee, Brenda Broder, who is a recipe tester for Cooks Illustrated," said Ficker. "She guides the program along. We have wait staff who serve the audience, and attendees get to sample what the chefs have made."

Skip Smith, a well-known realtor at Conway-based Coldwell Banker Wright Realty, will be returning for the second year as "Chef for a Day." Karla says he's an amazing chef and "his seafood chowder is to die for." He did a great job last year and really got into the spirit. Wearing his Hawaiian shirt and sharing his passion for cooking, Karla reports, "he absolutely knocked them dead." This year's treat from Skip will be 'Betty's Baked Stuffed Lobster.'

"One of our participating landscapers, David Neufeld, owner of North Star Stonework and Landscape Designs," Ficker continued, "is creating an outdoor brick pizza and bread oven and, weather permitting, one of the chefs from the Stonehurst Manor will be using it to create a brick oven pizza."

For Karla, the challenge of the show is to get a good mix of presenters and exhibitors.

"The fun," she says, "is watching the show get better year after year. When I meet all these amazing people, I know I am blessed. From the gardeners and the growers, to the stoneworkers, the chefs and the sponsors, I just want to share these extraordinary people with everyone. I really love it."

To learn more about this year's show, visit www.homegardenflower show.com. See you at the fairgrounds!

Martin Lord and Osman
Salmon Press
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