Chet Greason email@example.com
The weather on Sunday, March 8 had Stratfordites in high spirits. The sun was out and the temperature was relatively warm compared to the crushing cold of this past February. Everyone was feeling a little brighter with the beginning of spring just ahead of us.
But if the weather outside had locals convinced that spring was on its way, the Stratford Garden Festival had them thinking it was already here.
When you walked through the doors of the Rotary Complex this past weekend your nose was met with the smell of blooming flowers; the entire floor was lit with a warm, orange glow provided by vendors, rather than the white ultraviolets that typically light the space; and everyone was eating ice cream. Everybody. With giant mounds of plowed snow still towering outside, Garden Festival patrons were eating barrels of the stuff.
“I normally don’t eat ice cream,” admitted Lois Bogart, from London, visiting the show with her husband, Gerald Hudson.
“But this is what we need, a breath of spring. Everyone’s so bright and cheery; everyone is smiling. I just want to go home, get on my gloves, and get to work!”
Organizer Deedee Herman wasn’t surprised that Mapleton’s Organic, the company selling the frozen treats, was doing brisk business.
“The winter’s been lousy,” she said, adding that people are looking for something to get them in the mood for spring.
She noted that during last year’s Garden Festival, a blizzard closed the roads and hurt attendance. Not this year, though. She ballparked attendance at around the 9,000 mark.
Add 41 vendors, including eight landscape companies that set up elaborate displays that took a full week to construct, and it was no wonder there were bus loads of visitors coming from as far away as Windsor.
Herman is also the area manager for the Huron/Perth office of The Lung Association, the organization that puts on the Festival. The proceeds made from the event go towards medical research, public education, and other health initiatives.
Herman noted that one in five Canadians have some type of breathing problem.
“And this is a nice place to come in and breathe deeply,” she said.