March 6, 2010 8:41:00 PM
Allen Baswell - email@example.com
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi Horse Park has been transformed into a garden park of sorts Saturday and today, as the second annual Everything Garden Expo draws in crowds.
The expo is being sponsored by the Starkville Area Arts Council and Mississippi State University. It is open Sunday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The cost of entry is $5, and children 6 and under will be admitted free.
Jane Loveless, a member of the Starkville Area Arts Council, said last year''s event drew more than 3,000 people from throughout the Golden Triangle area, and some out-of-state visitors as well.
"We had 2,900 in paid customers, and including volunteers, we had over 3,000 attendees. We had a tremendous response last year, and from what I''ve seen so far, the crowd should be even bigger," she said.
Vendors set up in the outdoor pavilion as well as the indoor facility. With sunshine and pleasant, cool temperatures as a backdrop, expo-goers had a chance to check out a plethora of garden-related items.
"We have everything from lawn mowers and other equipment to yard art," Loveless said.
Among the vendors attending the event for the first time was Jimmy Daniels of Bulldog Power Equipment. Daniels'' company was in the outdoor pavilion, and was able to let people see and demonstrate chain saws, leaf blowers and other equipment.
"My partner Shank Phelps and I are here with some of the equipment we sell. We have had a good response from people. I think this is a great opportunity for people like us to let people know what we have and can offer to them in terms of sales and repair work," he said.
James Miller of K & M Nursery, said he has been to similar garden expositions throughout the South, and this was the best even though it is only in its second year.
Miller said his nursery, which specializes in rose bushes and other plants, is located outside of Meridian.
"This is the cream of the crop. This year is even better than the one last year, and I think the people in charge of hosting this event have done an excellent job," he said.
Betty Butler of Caledonia said this was the second year she has attended the event, and has been impressed at its growth in terms of attendance and products.
"There is such a wide variety of plants and other things to look at and buy. This is very nice," she said.
Cherri Lightsey of Starkville is back at the expo for a second year. She is also enjoying seeing the crowd, and looks forward to gardening sessions presented by different speakers. Among them included Felder Rushing, who hosts the well known radio show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting "The Gestalt Gardener," and Nellie Neal, known as "the Garden Mama."
"You also get a chance to learn about gardening from the many speakers who are here to share their love and knowledge about gardening," she said.
There are also programs planned for children as well. Saturday''s programs were devoted to showing children how to make their own flower pots and bird houses. Today, children are scheduled to be entertained by a magician.
Carol Jo Hagerman and Doris McBride of Aliceville, Ala., enjoyed the fact they can come to a place that is not too far to view and purchase garden products, and to get ready for gardening season.
"This is an energizing experience being here today. It helps you get out of the winter blahs, and get ready for gardening," Hagerman said.
"What we have seen today takes you into a comfort zone of nature, and gets you away from the winter blues," McBride said.
Loveless said she appreciates how the Arts Council has been able to partner with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Horse Park to have the expo.
"When we decided to put this together last year, we did it because there was no garden expo like this north of Jackson. We thought since we have Mississippi State here, there should be a garden expo here in Starkville. This has been great, and we appreciate the Horse Park for letting us use this facility. The staff has been very helpful to us," she said.
Allen Baswell is a former staff reporter for The Dispatch