Gardeners and houseplant lovers can find seasonal flowers, fruits and vegetables at the Midlands Plant & Flower Festival, hosted by the South Carolina State Farmers Market on Oct. 7-9.
The festival provides an opportunity for local farmers and businesses to sell an array of locally grown produce and products. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Admission and parking will be free.
“We’re helping the local greenhouses and local nurseries promote their product,” Brad Boozer, manager of the South Carolina State Farmers Market, said.
It will have everything from pumpkins, cornstalks, gourds and pansies to gardening equipment, concrete statues, yard furniture and bird houses.
“It’s an exciting weekend to mark the beginning of the season, get in that fall spirit … I know there’s some Halloween decorations down there,” Cade McConnell, the market's social media coordinator, said.
The State Farmers Market hosts two Plant & Flower Festivals annually, one in the fall and one in the spring. For the fall festival, the team usually expects anywhere from 14,000 to 18,000 people, Boozer said.
The festival is hosted by the State Farmers Market, which originated in Columbia's town hall in the 1800s. The market was then moved to a location on Bluff Road adjacent to Williams-Brice Stadium in 1952. The market then moved in 2010 to a newly constructed facility, which houses an open-air shared space, where it stands today.
“You can drive through the shed and pull up to the vendor that you’re looking to purchase from, or you can walk through it,” Sonia Brazell, the market's administrative coordinator, said.
Vendors such as Ernest and Annie Mazyck, Still's Produce and Jacob's Produce, have participated in the festival since its days at Williams-Brice.
“Master gardeners” will be at the festival to offer guidance and answer questions about water, sunlight and nutritional requirements for their plants. They'll also help with design recommendations and pest troubleshooting, according to Columbia Business Report.
These experts come from David Gibby's Master Gardener program, which began in Seattle in 1972. South Carolina's extension of the program is run through Clemson University.
Certified master gardeners have completed 40 hours of horticultural training on topics such as plant nutrition, tree and small fruit culture, vegetable gardening and lawn management.
“A great place for you to bring your kids out and for them to learn exactly where their food comes from,” Brazell said.
Early birds to this weekend's event will find wagons provided for visitors to carry their goods, but bringing your own is encouraged due to the wagons’ limited quantity, according to Columbia Business Report.
The State Farmers Market's Plant & Flower Festival is located at 3483 Charleston Highway in West Columbia and is owned by the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.
“Just welcome everybody to come out and see what we’re all about,” Boozer said.