Crews for sixteen exhibitions were hustling hard Saturday building their displays for the upcoming Maine Flower Show to be held later this week at Thompson’s Point for the first time. In previous years, the show was held at the Portland Company Complex, 58 Fore Street at the bottom of Munjoy Hill. Last year the Portland Company did not hold the spring event giving the Maine Landscape & Nursery Association, (MELNA) an opening to host a Show run by the industry – a non-profit – rather than by a for-profit company.
For over fifteen years, the Portland Company hosted the annual show in a run-down although historic building on the Portland waterfront. In recent years attendance had fallen off dramatically – a fact attributed largely to the lack of flowers in the show year after year. The emphasis had shifted to masonry from flowers. Some also consider the deterioration of the building at 58 Fore Street as a reason for the drop-off in attendance.
Also a controversy was created when Unified Parking Partners – a company managing the parking for the property owners charged more than had been customary in the past with no advance warning. Owner McNutt argued he’d increased parking spaces, but that did not subdue the outcry against the increased prices of parking next to the building. So far, the company has a monopoly in the area.
“We have taken steps to get more flowers into the gardens this year,” said Don Sproul, producer of this year’s Maine Flower Show Saturday at Thompson’s Point. “The show is being held two weeks later than previously. That will give flowers more daylight and the sun will be higher in the sky. Important factors in encouraging them to bloom sooner,” Sproul said.
An additional step that MELNA has taken to include more flowers was awarding each exhibitors a stipend of $1,000. to spend exclusively on “plant material.” That includes shrubs and flowering plants. Chris Nichols, of CM Nichols Landscaping Co.said there definitely was a “public outcry” for more flowers. Another landscaper said there was no incentive to bring in more flowers. With this stipend there is.
Proceeds from the opening night on Wednesday will go to the Good Shepard Food Bank. The premiere begins at 6:30 and the 16 awards will be announced at 7:30 pm. Adam Epstein, tv meteorologist for WGME, Channel 13, will mc the premiere. There will be music and food at the event. All other proceeds from the Show will be turned back to MELNA for its educational and scholarship programs.
General admission is $15.00. Thursday Seniors will be admitted for $8.00. On Friday, veterans and their spouses will be admitted for $5.00. The cost of the premiere event on Wednesday, March 29 is $50.00 and may be ordered on-line. On site parking will cost $5.00 and satellite lots will be available. The Show runs from Thursday through Sunday, April 2nd.
Check the website for more information: TheMaineFlowerShow.org. For more background information on the last Show at the Portland Company Complex, please see post dated March 3, 2015 herein.