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NORCAL Sun ’N Fun expands tours, ed sessions, draws 400-plus

SANTA BARBARA, CA — Expanded grower tours, more education sessions, a golf tournament on a championship course, awards, a floral fashion show with wearable floral craftsmanship, a flower fair with 42 exhibitors, convention grounds decorated by a team of seven floral designers — all were on hand, along with a record crowd of more than 400 for the NORCAL Sun ‘N Fun Weekend here July 17-20.

The event marked the 72nd anniversary of NORCAL, the California grower and shipper association. NORCAL’s biennial show is the only industry convention that showcases California flowers. The association helps members secure group rates on transportation, and also has tackled standardization of box sizes and provides group programs for insurance, data processing, and wage, benefit surveys and other services.

Grower tours, which drew a capacity crowd of 290, visited seven companies on two trips: 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 golf tournament was held at the Sandpiper Golf Course on the Pacific Ocean. Education sessions covered brand marketing, a new sustainability certification program, the trend toward locally grown produce and flowers, consumer research, and seminars on family businesses and credit applications.

The Mellano family, a third-generation and pioneering California grower, was honored at a breakfast awards ceremony with NORCAL’s Distinguished Service Award. Mellano & Co., founded in 1925, farms more than 375 acres in San Luis Rey and Carlsbad, producing more than seven million bunches of flowers and foliage from these locations year-round. Signature crops are ranunculus, myrtle and decorative chili peppers. Pat Mullen of Mayesh Wholesale Florist, NORCAL board president, presented the award.

A designer throw-down billed as “an outrageous wearable floral art fashion showdown” found models strolling through the dinner crowd on Thursday posing for photos.

One of the highlights of the biennial show, the Flower Fair, featured exhibits by 42 California flower growers, transportation carriers and other suppliers. Chris Johnson, NORCAL’s director of transportation, said exhibit space was sold out a month in advance of the show.

A team of seven designers holding American Institute of Floral Design credentials decorated the grounds and public areas of the hotel: Derrick Vasquez, the team leader; Carol Caggiano; Michael Quesada; Lynne Moss; Lori Novak; Eddie Payne; and Tom Simmons.

More show coverage will be in the Sept. 9 issue of Floral Marketing in The Produce News.