March 16, 2013 5:57:44 PM
Jan Swoope - firstname.lastname@example.org
As Ole Man Winter tucks himself in for a long hibernation, the rest of the world is greening. Nowhere will that be more evident than at the Everything Garden Expo at the Mississippi Horse Park in Starkville March 22-23. Where else might one find tropical plants, lawn tractors and bird houses under the same roof as incubators of hatching chicks, kids on scavenger hunts, MSU's Bully and sweet potato fudge?
The fifth annual Expo sponsored by the Starkville Area Arts Council will host that and more Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Admission is $5; children 6 and younger attend free.
Along with more than 40 garden-related vendors, the event will feature knowledgeable speakers and informational booths.
Ali Jones of Starkville is chair of the Expo, which, in the past, has attracted as many at 5,000 people in one day
"We've got a very exciting array of vendors -- a lot of returning vendors that have been with us from the beginning and a lot of new ones.
"Merchandise will range from door decor, flags, outdoor kitchens and garden furniture to yard art and, of course, plenty of plants, the chairman added. Organizers have made an effort to create an event that appeals to all ages and levels of gardening experience.
"Even if you don't want plants to put in the ground, there are a lot of decorative items," said Jones. The men are covered, too. "A lot of them seem to really like the garden and lawn tractors and equipment. And with lots for children to do, there's something for everyone."
On Friday at 1 p.m., former Mississippi State Extension Service horticulturist Milo Burnham will talk on "The Perfect Garden."
On Saturday, SuperTalk Radio broadcasts Nellie Neal's "Garden Mama" radio show live from the Expo, from 8 a.m to 10 a.m. At 11 a.m., Neal, who is from Jackson, will speak on "Tropical Gardening."
Rhonda Jones is co-chair of the children's activities for the 2013 Expo.
" There will be so much for them to do. The MSU Department of Poultry Science will be back with incubators and hatching chicks; the children love it," she said. Lowe's of Starkville will host a Build and Grow workshop, where children create an item they get to take home. Oktibbeha County 4-H members will conduct a Garden in a Glove activity from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Farm Bureau will host a station where youngsters make bean necklaces. Children can also make newspaper pots they fill with potting soil and seeds.
"These are our future gardeners, and we want to encourage them to learn and have fun doing it," remarked Rhonda Jones.
The popular scavenger hunt is back, as well.
"When children come in, they're given a sheet with items they find in the Expo arena while parents are shopping," said Ali Jones.
MSU's mascot, Bully, will be on hand Friday from 6-7 p.m. and Saturday from 10-11 a.m. for free photos. Bring your own camera.
Breakfast and lunch/dinner concessions will be available both days.
Planning for this two-day Starkville Area Arts Council fundraiser began almost a year ago, but organizers don't mind the diligent work required.
"The last three months it's truly a daily, ongoing task to get ready. But especially when you see it all come together, it really is fun to do. And any money raised goes right back out into the community through arts council grants, scholarships and projects," said Ali Jones.
The Everything Garden Expo is also sponsored by the MSU Extension Service, Greater Starkville Development Partnership, the National Endowment for the Arts and Mississippi Arts Commission.
For more information, contact the SAAC, 662-324-3080.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.