Orchid enthusiasts from around the world will be in Santa Barbara this weekend for the 71st Annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.
“This is the biggest show in the United States,” said George Hatfield, president of this year’s show.
“This is an opportunity for the community to see orchids that they would have to travel around the world and pay thousands of dollars in airline tickets to see.”
“We have people from all continents except from Antarctica that are going to be displaying orchids.” Said Hatfield.
Many of the orchids being showcased feature details so intricate, it’s hard to believe they come from nature. They look more like precious works of art.
Hatfield explains exhibitors spend thousands of dollars on the orchids going into their displays.
“Wild World of Orchids” is the theme of this year’s show, which also features orchid art, photography, floral arrangement and corsage competitions.
In addition to the floral displays, an entire exhibit hall is devoted to orchid sales. Many attendees take advantage of the chance to bring potted orchids and arrangements home.
“60 vendors from around the world will bring a lot of exotic orchids that you don’t normally see at our local nurseries,” said Hatfield.
The International Cymbidium Conference takes place in tandem with the show, so there’s the chance to sign up for workshops and other events.
“Santa Barbara is kind of ground zero of cymbidium orchids, said Hatfield. “Cymbidiums started here in Santa Barbara and they’ve been a very big part of this show for many years.”
The annual event brings in attendees by the busload to Earl Warren Showgrounds. It’s a favorite stop for photographers, too.
“The orchid show is HUGE!” said photographer Ken Pfeiffer, who often attends to capture photos of the exotic orchids and extravagant botanical arrangements.
“It’s a visual feast of a seemingly unlimited variety of orchids from around the world. Some are exhibited individually as priceless solitary jewels, and some in massive artistic arrangements. The incredible colors and natural majesty are not to be missed!”
For the best photo-ops, Hatfield suggests arriving early, while the flowers are at their peak and the crowds are the thinnest.
The show runs from 9am-5pm Friday-Sunday (March 4-6, 2016) at Earl Warren Showgrounds. General admission is $14; seniors and students with ID are $12. Children 12 and under are free with an adult. For more information go to SBOrchidShow.com