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The Santa Barbara International Orchid show returns after pandemic impacts

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In 2020, the Santa Barbara International Orchid show was hours away from opening the doors to the public and putting on the annual one-of-a-kind show, but the COVID-19 pandemic was announced, rules were set in place, and the event could not go on.

Now it's back.

The show is one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious show in the country.

George Hatfield is with the World Orchid Trust. He said,  "these people have spent weeks  planning and  preparing. This is essentially the Rose Parade in Santa Barbara."

It takes place this weekend at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

Orchid growers from Carpinteria Valley and Goleta will be hosting special events, and orchid growers from across the country will have uniquely created displays.

The event will go on rain or shine.  Rain is in the forest Friday and Saturday but there's not a strong chance on Sunday.

There will also be an art show, potting demonstrations, photography and floral arrangements.

International Orchid Show President Lauris Rose said, "this show is just such a shot in the arm for orchid growers. To know that Santa Barbara is back. "

 It's one of the top events of its kind in the nation and an economic booster for the area with an estimated crowd of 8000 coming in to  the event, rain or shine. Already about 3000 tickets have been sold during the online presale.

Hatfield said, "we have people from Ecuador, we have people from Taiwan you name it all over the United States. This is the variety of orchids that you will never see anywhere else."

 The show will have commercial growers and hobbyists, side by side.

 Some of the orchids have taken years to grow and bloom.

Rose said,  "and then we say that's the one it's got the wow factor.  Then we put it in this show and have it judged against its peers."

It's a show that is not duplicated.

"What's wonderful here  is you can see plants  from  all over the world.  Orchids are grown on all continents except for the Antarctic," said Hatfield. "This is the variety of orchids that you will never see anywhere else."

A special glass case from Berkeley full of rare orchids, is a centerpiece.   It's almost never moved.  For this show, it was.   Inside among the unique orchids is one called rhe Dracula orchid.

The event encourages growers, including the newest ones, to feel comfortable around their orchids and try new ones. Hatfield said, "we want people to grow these plants."  

There will be many areas for orchid education and potting examples.

Sellers are ready with truck loads of orchids in all price ranges,  some under $10.

Rose said, the show has orchids for all regions with helpful vendors. "When you say I live in Santa Barbara and it gets down to this temperature and up to this temperature that guy will grab a plant that is appropriate for you."

Ivan Portillo flew in from Ecuador representing Ecuagenea.   As he unpacked boxes of orchids he said,  "we have some customers they live from Arizona. They look for everything that grows warm.   If they live in Santa Barbara they re looking for something that grows cooler.  We help them try to find the plant they are looking for ."

The post-pandemic comeback of this orchid show will bond the growers and the public back together at this event where they haven't seen a full show since 2019.

(The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization with the purpose of sharing the joy of the orchid world and educating the public about orchids via its annual Show in March.)

For more information go to:  The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show

(More details, video and photos will be added here later today.)

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John Palminteri

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