One on One with…Home Garden Flower Show Producer Karla Ficker

Home Garden Flower Show Producer Karla Ficker 16th Annual Home Garden Flower Show Fryeburg Fairgrounds Friday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission: $10 at the door, $8 in advance for adults; $4 for children ages 11-16; free to children ages 10 and younger Website: www.homegardenflowershow.com

Home Garden Flower Show Producer Karla Ficker
16th Annual Home Garden Flower Show
Fryeburg Fairgrounds
Friday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday, May 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission: $10 at the door, $8 in advance for adults; $4 for children ages 11-16; free to children ages 10 and younger
Website: www.homegardenflowershow.com

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — Growing up on the North Shore in Massachusetts, Karla Ficker didn’t know anything about gardening.

“It wasn’t until I read Organic Gardening and thought it was the right way to garden. So, I started with a small little plot to learn how to prepare the soil, etc. And it evolved from there,” she said.

After attending college, Karla moved to the area in 1973.

“Like many, I fell in love with the area and wanted to raise my family (here),” she said.

Today, Karla is producer of the Home Garden Flower Show, which opens this Friday, May 13 at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds and runs through Sunday, May 15.

The News posed the following questions to Karla regarding how the show developed, evolved and what’s new to see this weekend:

BN. How did the flower show start and how did you get involved with it?

Karla: Well, believe it or not, the idea of came about because of the recession in 1989-90. At the time, I owned the Buyer’s Guide to Real Estate & Home Improvement and there were a huge number of bank-owned properties that needed to be sold. We met with several banks to come up with an idea to market these properties. We introduced the Home Seekers Weekend at The Sheraton in North Conway. The results were great, it was a huge hit and we even got a write up in The New York Times! We were asked to do the show in other cities, so we continued for a couple of years until the economy kicked in and the inventory was reduced. We started the Portland Home & Garden Show at the Civic Center in 1991 and Seacoast Home & Garden in Durham, N.H. We sold both several years ago.

BN. How has the show evolved from when it was held the first time to what people will see this coming weekend?

Karla: Interestingly enough, the Home Garden Flower Show actually started in Conway, N.H. at The Ham Arena. We held it there for two years. The first show had maybe 60 exhibitors, mostly home related. It quickly became apparent that we needed a larger facility so we moved to the Fryeburg Fairgrounds. We wanted the show to be more than just a home show and we had great space to grow at the fairgrounds, so it was perfect fit. We started with just three buildings at the fairgrounds and now we have seven.  For 2016, we have 225 businesses involved. We wanted to make the show interesting, layered, more than a home or garden show. It’s important to keep it fresh and interesting.

BN. What are the biggest challenges you face each year?

Karla: Probably the weather — it’s the one thing I can’t control.

BN. What is the lure for a majority of people to attend such a show?

Karla: I like to think it’s a great way to shake off winter, connect with friends and family and it’s time to talk with experts in the home and home-related businesses. My husband has been waiting for the show so he can check out a new riding mower. For many, it’s a time to shop for your garden supplies. Personally, for me, it’s a great time to find some really interesting, quality gifts for every occasion. The show is timed so you can buy your perennials, annuals, veggie seedlings, herbs and get them ready for planting. And it’s a fun way to spend the day — rain or shine — so much to take part in.

BN. How does a producer try to keep the show “fresh” to keep attendance up? Do you go to other shows in search of ideas or better ways to do a show?

Karla: I am a big follower of other shows, especially in other parts of the country. I like to see and read what’s trending and what our show goers might like to see. I’m a huge HGTV and DIY show fan. And I try and bring that to the public. This year, we even have tiny houses in the show!

BN. What has been the show’s biggest hit and miss?

Karla: Hmm, the hits would be Meet The Chefs and the Wine, Beer and Cheese Pavilion. We are adding the Artists in Residence to this year’s show and I believe it will be hugely successful. We have talented artists who live and work here and I’ve always wanted to create a quality venue within the show. Artists will be demonstrating their skills at the potter’s wheel, blacksmithing, mosaics, rug hooking, watercolors and more. I’ve committed to learning how to rug hook and try my hand at pottery. The goal is for show goers to stop and talk with the artists and maybe take a lesson and learn a skill. I’m excited about introducing that into the show and have plans on expanding that concept for next year.

BN. Surely, you get a lot of requests from vendors to attend the show. How do you go about selecting who is in and who is out?

Karla: We have limits on the number of same-type businesses. The exception to that are the garden centers. We have a very extensive database of vendors and over the years I have had the pleasure of getting to know many of them.

BN. What do you enjoy the most putting the show together?

Karla: I work with an extraordinary team of creative, artistic, intelligent people. I love the collaboration.

BN. How do you grade whether a show is successful or not? Once a show ends, how do you go about planning for the next year? Does the public offer suggestions that you consider incorporating into the next show?

Karla: We are always talking and interacting with the public during the show and throughout the year. We are already planning next year’s show. The dates for the 2017 show are May 19, 20, 21.

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