2009 Fall Flower and Garden Fest set for mid-October

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 27, 2009

Home gardeners, your big weekend is coming up.

The 2009 Fall Flower and Garden Fest will be Oct. 16-17 at the Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs. When I say big, I do mean big. In fact, this annual event is the largest home-gardening show in the Southeast. Average attendance is more than 6,000.

John C. Coccaro is county Extension director. Write to him at 1100-C Grove St., Vicksburg, MS 39180 or call 601-636-5442 or e-mail.

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I suppose the reason for this column is to provide the dates for the repeat customers and to convince first-time attendees just how worthwhile this event really is. This year marks our 31st, and there are participants who claim they’ve attended each year since it started. They have come to expect good educational seminars on gardening as well as interesting tours, demonstrations and exhibits. The festival begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. each day. 

In my opinion, this makes a great, economical outing. Numerous church groups, for example, attend by the vanload and sometimes busload. Admission and parking — even for buses — are free. 

For the last several years, my job has been to serve as leader of the 20-minute wagon tour of the research farm. One of our wagons is even handicapped assessable. I have enjoyed meeting people from all over the region and telling them about research projects being conducted by Mississippi State University horticulture scientists.

If you go

The 2009 Fall Flower and Garden Fest will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 16-17 at the Truck Crops Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.

I generally get great feedback on the selections and quality of food available. Ribeye steak sandwiches, catfish, barbecue plates, vegetable plates, hamburgers and hot dogs make up the staples. In addition to the regular dessert items, such as cakes and cookies, the Chautauqua Garden Club will be selling homemade ice cream — muscadine, blueberry, strawberry and peach, plus a couple of “nutty” offerings. The Copiah County 4-H tent will have hot and cold drinks.

There are so many interesting things to see, it wouldn’t be fair to list only a couple of feature attractions. In addition to the 3-acre vegetable, flower and herb garden, there are 22 garden seminars scheduled each day. I mentioned the wagon tours, but there are guided walking tours, too. There’s a butterfly garden, a hummingbird garden, a shade garden, an ethnic garden and gardens where one can evaluate both All-American Selection Winners and Mississippi Medallion Winners. There are flower trails, a banana trail and lots of ornamental grasses to admire. Check out demonstrations on beekeeping or composting or even old-timey corn meal production. 

The Warren County Master Gardeners will make presentations from the shade garden and former Warren County Master Gardener Larry Strayer will present his popular seminar — How to Make Your Own Hypertufa Garden Stuff.  Radio personalities such as Norman Winter and “The Garden Mama” Nellie Neal will share their words of gardening wisdom, and Extension farm pond guru Bill Maily will be chest-deep in pond water while he gives his talk on farm pond management.

Let me know if you need directions.