By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,545)
“I don’t know, I don’t know is a clear and concise answer,” wrote Phin Sprague, Jr., in an email to this blogger yesterday about the future of the annual Portland Flower Show. The Show last year, at 58 Fore Street, could be its last year hosted by the Sprague family.
Last year the 16th annual Portland Flower Show, a traditional event on Munjoy Hill, was marred by parking issues brought on by United Parking Partners, a company hired by property owner CPB2 LLC, to manage the parking surrounding the facility for the first time. Previously parking had been managed by employees of the historic complex on the Portland waterfront with no problems.
In recent years attendance at the PFS had been in decline to the point that Sprague admitted he was not making any money from the show. Visitors to the show have noticed that fewer and fewer flowers have been displayed in vendors’ exhibits.
According to vendors, it’s become almost impossible to find Maine greenhouses willing to grow flowers for the show because of the expense of heating Maine greenhouses and the time involved. Several vendors had tried to band together to order bus loads of flowers from southern greenhouses, but it didn’t always work out as intended. Deadlines were hard to meet. The effort took lots of organizing. The flowers from the south were different from the ones grown here and not always well received at the Portland Flower Show. Attendees wanted to see local flowers. And, who can blame them? “People really like to see color here in the winter time,” said Justina Marcisso, office manager for New Yard, on Commercial Street. So efforts were made to bring in colorful flowers, but it didn’t increase attendance last year.
The original plan for Sprague’s move to his new boatyard, New Yard, to West Commercial Street, included plans for office buildings and a facilities buildings where flower shows and other events could be held. Those plans got changed, however, when Maine Department of Transportation took part of that property by Eminent Domain for the construction of Eimskip’s new cargo shipping facility. That changed everything. It put New Yard behind its original schedule. Now the Flower Show is not allowed in this zone.
“Unfortunately for us and those who enjoyed the Flower Show, the lack of continuity because of Eminent Domain allows an opportunity for others to take advantage and step into the vacuum. So we will see if the opportunity remains when and if we have our lives straightened out,” Sprague wrote in his email.