Eldon Everhart, Field Specialist- Horticulture, Southwest Area
Before this event, there were no major garden shows in northwest Iowa. Most communities in Iowa that are comparable in size to Sioux City have large, multi-day garden shows. To meet this need, ISU Extension and Nebraska Extension joined with local businesses and volunteers to create a unique new garden shows in northwest Iowa.
A 12-member committee was formed to evaluate the feasibility of a garden show in northwest Iowa. Commercial business people, who served on the committee, indicated that gardening is the number one hobby in the US today. They also said that demand for gardening information, services, and products is growing.
The garden show committee began planning a year in advance. Committee members included Master Gardener volunteers, horticulture business owners, local media representatives, and Extension staff. Each committee member provided leadership for different parts of the show. Committee members attended garden shows in Iowa and adjacent states to find out how they were organized. A $2,000 ISU grant and $1,000 from Nebraska Extension were used to cover start-up costs. Field specialists, county staff, and volunteers invested countless hours to organize and implement the show.
ISU Extension provided leadership for the first annual Siouxland Garden Show held in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa on March 23 and 24, 2007. The show targeted consumers in or near Woodbury County and increased the amount of horticulture information accessible to them.
Over 125 volunteers helped during the show. For the entire day, the Sgt. Bluff school system provided free bus rides from the school parking lot to the show. Children enjoyed many garden related activities and vendors provided many door prizes. Several businesses donated food and Master Gardeners brought homemade food that they sold it at the show. Proceeds from food sale will be used to support the Woodbury County Master Gardener program.
This is the only garden show in an Iowa community the size of Sioux City that is organized and run by ISU Extension. This show provided ISU Extension with a great deal of positive publicity. ISU Extension hosted several TV and radio press conferences before and during the show. After the show, letters were written to the editors of newspapers and magazines by attendees who expressed their appreciation. Publicity related to the garden show in March alone included 44 articles in the newspaper, 2 magazine article, 2 magazine advertisements, 836 radio commercials, 75 TV commercials, 17 TV interviews and stories, 2 radio interviews, 5 speeches, and 2 outdoor billboards. The Sgt. Bluff newspaper featured the show in a full-color, multi-page special edition with the facilitys layout and descriptions of the speakers and their topics. One radio station was selected as a major sponsor for the show. Area TV stations repeatedly broadcast stories about the show. The event was described on several websites including Iowa Tourism, Sioux City Tourism Bureau, Siouxland Events, Loess Hills Tours, Garden Web, We Go Places, Western Events, and newspapers. A local hospital helped market the show and did much of the printing as an in kind donation.
The show drew 2,500 people from six states including individuals from 84 communities in Iowa, 28 communities in Nebraska, and 11 communities in South Dakota. About 700 were from Sioux City, South Sioux City, and Sgt. Bluff.
Booth spaces were purchased by 51 businesses, clubs, and organizations that specialize in lawn or garden products or services. Vendors shared information with visitors, promoted events, and sold plants, products, and services. Exhibitors made many positive comments about the show, such as: Awesome! Very impressed with the number of people. Excellent show! Great opportunity. What an amazing first time event!
Regional experts made 26 educational presentations in concurrent sessions. In the exhibit area, local experts led 10 how-to sessions. Over 1,200 attendees turned in evaluations that rated the speakers good to excellent. Comments included: It was one of the best garden shows I've ever been to. I loved the speakers and the vendor booths. Everyone was so friendly and the building looked beautiful. After the show, one person wrote, Im the vice president of a garden club in South Dakota and I write a newsletter for them. Last night I wrote about your show. I intend to do programs on the things I learned while I was there.
The show generated about $25,000 of income and netted $17,135 in profit to use for future shows. These funds covered cost recovery and other expenses. Over $1,500 of was netted from food sales that went to the local Master Gardener program. Several vendors who participated in the event reported that their sales at the show and thereafter were stimulated as much as 25 percent.
130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
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January 7, 2008
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