Wichita will see a spring garden show

Wichita will have a garden show the first weekend of March next year after all.

Entercom Communications, which owns five radio stations in Wichita, is going to sponsor an Outdoor Living and Landscape Show on March 2-4 in Expo Hall of Century II.

The show will be a smaller, shorter, more focused, less-expensive-to-attend version of the Wichita Garden Show, Brad Horning of Entercom said Friday.

The board of directors of the Wichita Garden Show decided in May to shut down the show after 44 years, drawing protests from garden lovers and exhibitors.

Tens of thousands of people have made the pre-spring pilgrimage to Century II for decades to get a head start on the growing season. Exhibitors relied on the show to introduce themselves and their products to customers.

"I'm glad to hear somebody is doing something with it," said George Arnold, owner of Arnold's Greenhouse in LeRoy. He said the garden show had been essential to his business and "all the family-owned garden centers."

"It was needed because by the time people go through a winter they're pretty much sick of it and they're ready to get outside, and this is a good time to get people enthused about it."

Entercom had a booth at the garden show and was a sponsor, so Horning said he was familiar with that show and with others, including the Women's Fair.

Entercom previously has put on the Big Boys Toy Show and Fun Fair for Kids, both of which were last staged in 2009.

Horning said he has contacted many of the commercial and educational exhibitors from the old garden show and has been met with "a roar of excitement."

"When we first found out that the garden show was going away, our first reaction was that our community is too big not to have a show of this nature," Horning said.

He said admission to the new show would be cheaper than that of the old garden show, but he said the exact amount and other details of the show were still being worked out.

Gardeners won't have to wait until spring to get a dose of what the old garden show offered.

Paul James, a former HGTV host who often appeared at the garden show and drew more than 1,000 people, will speak this fall at Wichita State University in conjunction with two nature-related art exhibitions at the Ulrich Museum of Art. His talk will be at 6 p.m. on Oct. 11 at the Campus Activities Center Theater. Admission will be free.

And a Fall Festival at Botanica on Oct. 22 will feature booths and demonstrations by many of Wichita's garden clubs along with a flower show by Suburban Garden Club members, seminars and a chili cook-off. It is being sponsored by the Wichita Garden Council as a fundraiser for itself and for Botanica.

Admission will be $10 for adults and $3 for children under 12 and will include admission to Botanica's gardens.