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Van Wingerden's Holiday Open House on Sunday showed hundreds of visitors the greenhouse operation's signature Christmas poinsettia.
The greenhouse growers started the event as a gesture of appreciation for the community after a disastrous greenhouse fire 21 years ago.
"After the fire in 1992, the community really stepped up to show their support for us and it was decided that an open house was a good way for us to show our appreciation," said Kelly Cantrell, co-owner of Van Wingerden International Inc.
The first year Van Wingerden opened the greenhouses, managers expected about 500 people. Instead, 1,500 showed up. The event has continued every year since and the attendance has grown each time. This year visitors could look at more than 700,000 of the Christmas flowers covering acres of greenhouse floor and ready to ship to retailers.
"What a wonderful beginning to the holiday season," said Mark Williams, executive director of Agriculture Henderson County, the farm promotion agency. "Van Wingerden is such an asset to this community, not only for the jobs they provide but for their benevolence."
Van Wingerden also opened up the event to local farm vendors at not cost.
"Van Wingerden's generosity allows local growers to showcase their products and educate the public about all the wonderful agricultural products being produced in Henderson County," added Williams. Vendors included Edmundson Produce, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards, Mills River Farmers' Market and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Van Wingerden poinsettias can be purchased at local Ingles Markets within the next couple of weeks.