Penn State

Horticulture Show holds its own on busy Penn State homecoming weekend

Penn State student Eric Middletown chats with customers Sunday during the Horticulture Show at the Snider Ag Arena. This years theme, "Seasons of Horticulture" took visitors through the winter, spring, summer and fall.
Penn State student Eric Middletown chats with customers Sunday during the Horticulture Show at the Snider Ag Arena. This years theme, "Seasons of Horticulture" took visitors through the winter, spring, summer and fall. CDT photo

Of the many things associated with homecoming weekend at Penn State, the annual horticulture show is generally not the first thing that comes to mind.

But while the show may not be as famous at the parade or the football game, it is still a tradition in its own right. On Saturday and Sunday, the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Horticulture Club put on the 101st show in the Snider Agricultural Arena.

Although attracting people to a two-day event designed to sell and showcase plants isn’t easy during a weekend with so many other events occurring, the show, themed “Seasons of Horticulture,” was still considered a success by its managers.

According to senior Giovanni DeMarco, the student manager, Saturday saw a solid turnout despite taking place during the football game. On Sunday, dozens of people were already entering the arena by 10 a.m., an hour after it opened.

“(Saturday) was slow during the game but (attendance) has been pretty steady,” DeMarco said. “We’ve just been enjoying ourselves, really. I was surprised to see as many people in here as we did on Saturday. I think it’s cool that people know about it and are willing to brave the traffic on a football Saturday.”

While one of the goals of the event is to sell enough plants — including trees, flowers and pumpkins — to create funding for the horticulture club, it is also meant to educate the community about landscaping and new types of plants.

A number of people with no prior knowledge of the event came to check it out for the first time, including Bill Smith, a longtime State College resident who saw a sign along Park Avenue and decided to stop by.

“It’s very interesting,” Smith said. “It’s very nicely laid out with some very interesting plants. The students walking around have knowledge to help us figure out what plants work for us.”

Sunday also brought back many regular customers of the show, including Melissa Arnett, who has attended the past 10.

“I think they put in a lot of hard work to put everything in,” Arnett said. “I feel like they’ve done a really great job.”

The hard work entails turning a completely empty building into an entire garden in just a single week, complete with soil walkways and sections devoted to plant life for all four seasons.

For DeMarco and the other students running the show, the hard work doesn’t end at 6 p.m. Sunday when the show ends. There is still tear-down to take care of as well as the remaining plants, which are donated or taken to compost.

Horticulture Club adviser Dan Stearns, who has been a part of the club since 1991, said that the growth of the show over the past 20 years has been remarkable.

“It’s gotten quite a bit bigger since I started,” Stearns said. “It really educates the public, gives students a great experience and creates an aesthetic escape for people.”

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