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NORCAL Sun ‘N Fun to expand grower tours, education sessions

“Hotel rooms are sold out, we’ve already got 225 registered with more than a month to go, the sign-ups for the grower tours are already near capacity, and we have more than 40 exhibitors lined up.” With those words by Monnaie Castillo on June 11, it sounds like the 2013 NORCAL Sun ‘N Fun Weekend is in full bloom.

This year’s show runs July 17-20 at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort only 30 steps from the beach in Santa Barbara, CA, and is billed as bigger and better. Castillo, business manager and special events coordinator for NORCAL, the California grower and shipper association, said she expects walk-in registration to push the total beyond the 2011 show’s 300 mark. The 42 exhibitors number the same as in 2011, she said.

NORCAL713MELLANODEVRIESMichael A. Mellano, a vice president of Mellano & Co., and Lane DeVries at the 2011 NORCAL Sun ‘N Fun Weekend. DeVries, head of Sun Valley Group, received a Distinguished Service Award then. This year, the Mellano family will receive the award.This year’s version of the biennial show features expanded grower tours and education sessions, a golf tournament on a championship course, distinguished service awards, a floral fashion show and the world’s largest display of California flowers and greenery.

Grower tours, which Castillo said probably will be capped at 130 attendees, will visit seven companies: Sun Valley’s farm in Oxnard, CA; Ever-Bloom Inc., Westerlay Orchids and Myriad Flowers in Carpinteria, CA, on July 17; and Holland-America Flowers in Arroyo Grande, CA, and Skyline Flower Growers & Shippers and Ocean View Flowers in Nipomo, CA, on July 18.

The July 17 golf tournament will be held at the Sandpiper Golf Course on the Pacific Ocean, ranked among the top 25 public courses in the nation. Education sessions cover brand marketing, a new sustainability certification program proposed by the California Cut Flower Commission, the trend toward locally grown produce and flowers, consumer research, and seminars on family businesses and credit applications.

The floral business in California has been largely a family business, and one of the remaining pioneering growers, Mellano & Co., now led by the third-generation of the Mellano family, will be honored at a breakfast awards ceremony with a Distinguished Service Award. The company began in the mid-1920s.

Models will stroll through the crowd posing for photos in a floral fashion show described by sponsors as “an outrageous wearable floral art fashion showdown.” Designers from the California State Floral Association will create the “wearable art” bouquets and corsages.

The Flower Fair, with exhibits by 42 California flower growers, transportation carriers and other suppliers, previews July 18, and the exhibit hall will be open July 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., including a buffet lunch.