Silver anniversary Home & Garden show set records


Jefferson County’s Master Gardeners had a lot to celebrate in 2013: not only did they mark the 25th anniversary of the Home & Garden Seminar and Show with Arkansas’ first lady, Ginger Beebe, but the show also drew record attendance and raised a record amount for educational efforts.

Show organizers estimate 1,200 came to the Pine Bluff Convention Center on Feb. 9 to enjoy the how-to sessions, the youth art show, browse the displays and enjoy the anniversary celebration, including a cake-cutting and Beebe’s presentation on the Governor’s Mansion gardens through the seasons. The show also had more booths than ever, offering seemingly everything including honey, peanut brittle, office products and gardening tools.

“I have worked the show for the last five or six years, and I’m convinced that it was our biggest and best show ever,” said Lloyd Wessels, Jefferson County Master Gardener, who was this year’s show chairman. “We had nearly 1,000 people register, and many, many more who came in other entrances.”

The heart of the show are its educational efforts. Admission to the show was free, but proceeds from booth sales helped the show raise about $6,000. The Master Gardeners, along with faculty from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service, manage community gardens to teach gardening and nutrition to local school children and also give away the produce to those in need.

“The show is a showcase for our horticulture extension programs,” said Dennis Bailey, Jefferson County Extension staff chairman for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

“My goal since being in Jefferson County has been to encourage raised bed gardens after seeing so many poor gardens in the area on visits. This show allowed us to concentrate the message and highlight the issue.”

Bailey gave a how-to presentation on raised bed gardens to a standing-room-only crowd.

Bailey said, “I think we will keep our goal of seeing about 200 new raised beds or more in 2013. We want to highlight results later to show how people can be more successful and feel more accomplished about their gardens and the time they spend in them.

“Raised beds are good therapy and can be great for eating what you grow or butterfly watching, or whatever a soul needs to heal from the grind of the day,” he said. “And they can be done without heavy equipment or large spaces.”

“People loved the raised bed idea and information and I think that I had 30 people wanting the raised beds on legs delivered to their house,” Wessels said.

For more information about horticulture, contact your county extension office, or visit or www.uaex.edu.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.