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Garden Jubilee attracts happy planters

In near perfect weather, a throng of gardeners and browers filled Main Street on Saturday for the 20th annual Garden Jubilee.


By 11 a.m. Tourism Development Authority director Beth Carden had covered the eight-block of colorful plants and flowers, garden tools and outdoor accessories. She pronounced it busy and, judging by the cargo of buyers, profitable.

"I've been up and down the street and people are telling each other this is wonderful," she said. "I think our expectation will be met."

Expectation was 100,000 people for the two-day event, a high mark for the festival that started with about 120 sellers and has grown to 265.

"I've not seen many people that didn't have something in their hand," she said. The waiting list has grown to 40 vendors, "a nice problem to have."

The TDA, which is the event sponsor, added a second hospitality tent this year, a service that helps the sellers.

"They'll babysit plants so people can keep shopping," she said. "That way they'll spend more money."

The Lowe's Expo at the Visitors Center offers garden clinics, a plant sale, a hands-on clinic for kids and outdoor equipment.

Southern Living landscape and garden specialist magazine's Bill Slack will be returning to the Garden Jubilee. He will give free seminars throughout the weekend. Product representatives from company's like Miracle-Gro, Roundup, Scotts and more will give out free samples and offer gardening tips.

"We've had people calling from Florida, Ohio, Louisiana and Virginia," Carden said on Friday afternoon. "They've been calling from all over the Southeast saying they're coming."

Main Street merchants say the Garden Jubilee is one of their favorite festivals.

"The festival brings a lot of people downtown," said Becky Banadyga, owner and manager of Sherman's Sports and Army store. "Gardner's are happy people, so overall it's a very pleasant weekend."

Downtown restaurants also see an influx of customers.

"Its a great way to kick off the summer because it brings a lot of people and beautiful plants," said Patty Adamick, owner of Mike's on Main. "We wish the Garden Jubilee was every weekend."