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Great Lakes Floral Expo draws 500

The annual Great Lakes Floral Expo in Grand Rapids, MI, drew 500 floral professionals to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel March 1-3 for a bevy of awards, designer contests, five main stage presentations, seven hands-on workshops, nine business sessions and a tour of four area floral businesses.

The Olympic-themed expo drew growers, wholesalers and florists from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin. Bob Patterson, president of the Michigan Floral Association, which sponsors the weekend, termed it “a marvelous investment in the future of your business,” in a news release.

The general session presentations, called the Floral Olympics, covered weddings, parties, color, techniques and everyday floral designs. The workshops taught participants new design skills and the latest trends in sympathy and wedding work, and business session topics included customer service, social media and marketing. The design contests sent winners to represent the association at national competitions sponsored by florist and floral design groups.

This year’s industry tour visited four Grand Rapids floral businesses in a progressive dinner that began with hors d’oeuvres at Eastern Floral, a retail florist; moved on to salads at Nordlie Inc., a wholesale design center; followed by the main course at Vans Floral Products, a wholesale florist and a Kennicott Bros. company. The tour ended with dessert at Fruitbasket Flowerland in the Grand Rapids area.

The three-day Trade Show Marketplace showcased a variety of fresh product, hard goods, services and Floral Olympic Trade Show Trivia that attendees prowled the trade show floor to locate, finding trivia answers and winning prizes.

Among the 15 honorees at the Recognition Banquet the final night of the show was Deb Patterson, co-owner of Patterson’s Flowers in Big Rapids, MI, who received the 2013 Special Recognition award for her volunteer work for the association. About 200 attended the dinner.

Next year’s Great Lakes trade show will carry the theme, “It’s All about Flowers,” and will be held March 7-9, 2014, in Grand Rapids, MI, according to an association news release.