Egge Seed and Nursery was featured in the Register Guard’s coverage of the Lane County Home and Garden Show!

Lane County Home & Garden Show offers much to see this weekend

Written by Sherri Buri McDonald | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon
Published March 13, 2016
For the original article, visit The Register-Guard.

Despite the popularity of shopping online and turning to YouTube for guidance on everything from vegetable gardening to home improvement projects, tens of thousands of Lane County residents will show up in person at the Lane Events Center this weekend to learn and shop at the Lane County Home & Garden Show.

“There are things you can’t do on the Internet,” show director Karen Ramus said.

“You can’t sit in that spa before you buy it, you can’t lie on a mattress before you buy it.”

“This removes a lot of risk,” she said. “Shopping face-to-face, talking to people, you can read people.”

“Anybody who has a project on the radar screen … can start interviewing contractors,” Ramus said. “You want to talk to people before you cut into a wall or have contractors parading through your home.”

The annual show, now in its 37th year, brings together more than 300 exhibitors spread over 3 acres. The show opened Thursday evening and will continue through 5 p.m. Sunday.

Ramus said she’s expecting 35,000 to 40,000 people during the four days — more than usual.

“The general mood is extraordinarily positive right now — whether you’re talking with landscapers or remodelers,” she said.

The show welcomes 69 new exhibitors this year, more newcomers than was typical even before the Great Recession, Ramus said.

“We have more nurseries than ever,” she said. “They tend to be a fairly young group of nursery owners or second generation owners.

“The nurseries have come in bigger than they used to because they know they need to market a little more than they used to to stay in business,” Ramus said.

“The Egge Seed & Nursery exhibit is as good as you would see at the Philadelphia Flower Show,” a premier gardening show in the United States, she said.

Jennifer Egge, who owns a 2,000-acre farm and nursery in Coburg with her husband Chad, said she spent the past couple of months planning and working on the display. With an array of potted plants and flowers, a black and white awning, and French signage, it evokes a Parisian flower market.

Shoppers complimented Egge on the beauty of her exhibit and her creativity.

“People are shocked and amazed,” Egge said. “It’s totally opposite of what they’re used to seeing.”

Last year, Egge’s exhibit had a farm theme with a tractor and barn wall.

This year, “I wanted to go fancy,” she said.

Crow residents Andrea and Nancy Andrew admired the Egge exhibit and other nursery displays on Saturday.

“They have great companies that come from outside the area and all the local nurseries,” said Andrea Andrew, who said she and her mother probably haven’t missed a show in the past decade.

“It makes it great to get them all in one spot,” she said. “We always get something.”

This year’s show also has more outdoor living space vendors for decks, patios, fire pits and grilling stations, reflecting the trend of owners upgrading their home instead of buying up, Ramus said.

Through good economic times and bad, admission is free to the Lane County Home & Garden Show, which is a big reason for its success, she said.

“For our market size, we have huge shows,” Ramus said.

“We’re unique in that we have free admission and free parking, which is a credit to the facility,” she said.

People are encouraged to bring a canned food donation for FOOD for Lane County.

Ramus’ mother, Helen Berg, launched the local show in the late 1970s when she worked for the local homebuilders association. A recession hit in the early ’80s and the association was going to discontinue the spring and fall home shows, Ramus said.

Instead, Berg bought them and has insisted that admission stay free ever since, Ramus said.

“That wisdom helped our shows maintain and thrive through some really rough years,” she said. “Neighboring shows, most of the shows in major markets are 50 percent of their footprint before the most recent downturn. We’ve maintained our footprint.”

“At the end of the day we’re focused on one goal and that is exhibitors, and if they don’t come back we make no revenue,” Ramus said.

It was a struggle to keep the show booked in the Great Recession and its aftermath, she said.

“A lot of our clientele went out of business, so you try to replace them,” Ramus said. “It means instead of making 100 sales calls and getting 10 calls back, you’re making 200 and getting five calls back. You just work twice as hard to sell out a show.”

The downturn shifted the mix of exhibitors a bit, she said. More contractors participated in lean times, and fewer regional and national manufacturers.

“We haven’t seen the big manufacturers come back to our market because we’re a third-tier market in size,” Ramus said.

She said she also added new categories during the recession, such as tasting of distilled spirits.

“It’s a fun and bright spot in the show,” Ramus said. “Vendors love it; the public loves it.”

Ramus said some of the show’s highlights on Sunday, its final day, will be a noon talk on drip irrigation that will help gardeners save on water bills if this summer is a scorcher. She also expects the earthquake preparedness seminar at 1:30 p.m. to attract a crowd.

She offered a final insider’s tip: at 4 p.m. the landscapers sell their display plants.

“People can get screaming deals on beautiful plants that last hour of the show,” Ramus said.

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Lane County Home & Garden Show