HCC alumni Flower and Garden Show celebrates 25 years with 'silver bells’
It started as an idea to make some money for the school and it has blossomed into an event that brings thousands through the doors of Hagerstown Community College.
“It started as a grassroots movement with the idea to do something fun for springtime that involves the community,” said Lisa Stewart, coordinator for alumni relations at HCC.
The HCC Alumni Association is holding its 25th anniversary Flower and Garden Show on Saturday, March 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, March 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is $5 for those 12 and older and free for children under 12.
Stewart has been at the college since the very beginnings of the show and says that organizers didn’t know if the show was going to be a hit or a total flop.
“We didn’t know if we were going to have only 20 people or hundreds show up,” Stewart said. “It’s really quite fascinating to see how the show has been blessed.”
In the beginning, the Alumni Association at HCC worked with teachers to display art projects from students at the school to get their families and friends to attend the show.
Now, between 6,000 and 7,000 visitors attend the show, netting $709,000 through the 24th year. Organizers are hoping to break $750,000 with this year’s anniversary show.
While the crowds and vendors come and go, there is one local gardener who has been there through it all.
Denny Warrenfeltz, co-owner of Roostervane Gardens, has been creating displays for the Flower and Garden Show since its first year. He had opened his business in the fall just before the show and when he was asked to participate, he put in a request to put his display in the lobby.
Since the beginning, his displays always greet visitors at the entrance of the show. He says that he tries to up the bar every year.
“The garden show is a lot of work and it can be very taxing but there is a lot of satisfaction and fulfillment on the night before to look at everything and step back and say ‘wow this is exactly what I wanted,’” Warrenfeltz said.
For the 25th year of the show, the theme is “ring silver bells, smell floral smells and see what alumni can do.”
Warrenfeltz says that he’s going with the silver anniversary theme for his display this year, hoping to catch the attention of those walking through the doors of the show.
“I’m going to be using silver and bells and using flowers to represent the colors to really pull those walking through the doors into the anniversary theme,” Warrenfeltz said.
This year, the show is dedicated to a longtime volunteer Joyce Ott of Ott’s Horticulture in Chewsville, who passed away at the end of January.
She was involved in the show since the beginning and was involved in the planning for this year’s event up until she got sick in November.
“She was so instrumental in growing the event through the years,” Stewart said. “It’s nice to have someone like that who you can look back and see that she was involved from college and then throughout the years after.”
Stewart says that donations from Ott’s passing go to the flower show.
Shirl Grattan was a student during the first Flower and Garden Show and still gets excited for the doors to open at the show after 25 years.
“It’s grown beyond my wildest dreams,” Grattan said. “Fantastic opportunity for local companies to take part in a community show.”
Grattan says that the Flower and Garden Show is not only a fun place to look around, but it also offers visitors the chance to learn and grow in their gardening knowledge.
“I think it answers a lot of people’s questions as well as gives them an opportunity to come and get high-quality decorations and live plants and great ideas,” Grattan said.
Grattan is one of 100 to 130 volunteers that donate their time each year at the Flower and Garden Show in one way or another.
Organizers say that the community aspect of the show is what makes it so special.
“The flower and garden show is our heart and soul and something that we’re very proud of. Feels a little bit of pride when they hear about it because they know that we’ve done something successful that the community loves,” Stewart said.