Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Philadelphia International Flower Show is fun for men too!

Last weekend (March 10th) I got to spend the day at the Philadelphia International Flower Show.  Let me tell ya, for a show that has been happening here in Philly for like over a hundred and fifty years (seriously!) I think the week-long convention may be slightly mis-marketed.  Yep, despite bringing in an average of 250,000 show-goers annually I think this show can do better.

When the discussion of flowers arises in conversation it tends to also feature women.  Women like flowers and buy flowers and plants, the like to sniff them and what now.  Many of us know this simple word association. Men do one thing: we buy flowers for women. We’re not the type to discuss the season’s blossoming flora and we certainly don’t take the time to stop and quite literally, smell the roses.

I hobby as a photographer and one who specifically likes shooting inanimate objects like buildings and statues and uh, flowers and such.  This is one of the reasons that, as a man, I felt I should try out the flower show at least once. Adding to my faux list of reasons for attendance this year was the introduction to a “man cave” where it was promoted guys could come and relax while their wives, girlfriends and loved ones were frolicking amongst the Hawaiian settings that this year’s convention featured. Oh yeah, there was also appearances by Melissa Gorga of “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and Bethenny Frankel from “Bethenny Ever After.” Both shows are on BRAVO and while most won’t admit it, men know who these women are. Married men, men who live with women, gay men…we all watch these shows, having been introduced to them usually by a woman…most notably the woman in our lives. But Melissa and Bethenny are cuties so I had zero problems taking time out of my flower show wandering to meet them and grab a photo opp.

So here we go.  I’m going to breakdown some of my favorite parts of the Philadelphia International Flower Show and attempt – hopefully succeeding – to show my fellow manly men that there is in fact plenty to see and do for a day.


Complete with a giant projection screen television and plush leather recliners, the “man cave” made its debut at this years show.  What I figured I’d do was wander around outside the main convention floor first and then tip toe through the tulips afterwards, so being a man I started with the place that was made just for me and my kind (insert snicker here).

There was a bar and some hot food available for purchasing courtesy of ESPN’S “2011 Best Sports Bar in North America” Chickie’s & Pete’s. Sugar House casino provided a few gaming tables where poker and blackjack could be played. The buy-ins went toward support of the PHS City Harvest program, which provides fresh produce for families in need and game players who were eligible, won prizes. 

No doubt, that near-hundred inch screen television was the centerpiece and it was cool to be able to purchase some delicious Chickie’s Crabfries as well as Kona beer. But I couldn’t help but think to myself that this was just an ancillary room. It wasn’t a man cave; it was just a room with beer and TV!  I don’t want to disparage though, seriously. This was the show’s first attempt at such an addition and things can only get better and hopefully more elaborate from here.  Those chairs were quite comfortable enough to take a load off in and watch the Sixers or Flyers in, that’s for sure.


It was crowded, lemme tell you that. I was amazed that for a show running the whole week, it still drew a big crowd on one of the last days. Walking through the main entrance you’d see not only the pretty blue lights that displayed tidal waves and shark shadows on them but also the three-story waterfall that also served as a stage for Hawaiian performers. Yes, it really did it’s best to make you feel transported to the beautiful islands upon entry. It was the rest of the floor that reminded you that you were in fact still inside a convention center and that took away from some of the overall experience for me.  Having scenes and set ups that were roped off from traffic didn’t do anything but to make me feel as though I was in a museum looking at exhibits. Others got into the spirit by getting lei-ed (I couldn’t resist, sorry). The lei hut was jam-packed with business every time that I walked by it.

Admittedly, I find tulips great photography subjects and there was a whole area of the floor dedicated to them.  Some I’d never seen before while others just made for fun shooting again.  They really are more attractive than roses and more men should look into these as sentiments of love for our ladies.  You can find so many different looks and colors with tulips.  I dunno…perhaps there is more to my being at this show, eh? 

I thought it was awesome that in one section featuring floral designs based around mailboxes, someone put together one dedicated to Phillies Hawaiian implant Shane Victorino.  There was a copy of The Maui News from 2008 when our boys won the World Series, with “Victorino is Maui’s first World Series champion” as a subheading.

There were eye-catching tiki statues all over the convention floor.  Also gotta say that as a man, I was drawn to the bright red area resembling a lava flow and a section of the convention that was based on food-based plants.  Here I go walking through an isle and I had the wish that pizza was in the near vicinity, but alas it was “just” the Oregano and Rosemary plants. Over and over I kept hearing about people mentioning a wall made out of lettuce and I finally discovered it myself.  Instantly, I wondered how many people may have either bitten something on the wall or acted as if they were doing so for the sake of a silly photo.


Dude! These trees blew my mind and I found myself in this small isle or few for about a half hour or so, just staring in awe at these miniature trees.  I kept thinking how they reminded me of something out of Fangorn Forest from “Lord of the Rings.” It wasn’t that they were just so identical to full-size trees that made it interesting to check out, but the placards next to them held information that just pushed it over the top. Look at the accompanying images and marvel at this mini 45 and 70-year old trees!


Let me tell you this, there was a ton of things to spend money on and variety was certainly the theme.  There were two major areas you could have spent your hard-earned dollars and they were:  inside the flower show where plants, seeds and crafts were being sold.  Then, on the exterior of the main floor (past the man cave) you’d find the second market place that had foodstuffs like the heavenly offerings of Philly legend Di Bruno Brothers and lots of individual Hawaiian vendors selling jewelry and other arts and crafts.  It’d be embarrassing of me to leave off the inclusion of a PA Wine & Spirits shop and free tasting area. This would lead me to…


I had friends who were in line ahead of time so I met up with them, since I was trying to be somewhat professional and truly look around and take in the convention that I got to cover for the day.  All that went out the window once I got into this insane line – and I say that in a good way. 

Attending various conventions have me used to meeting famous people, but what I never stop getting a kick out of are all the other people who aren’t used to meeting folks they’re into.  This line was chock full of Bethenny fanatics and they were hype!  You had to purchase a bottle of her Skinnygirl line of products in order to get a photo with the guest of honor, but somehow I managed to get a bracelet anyways. 

Once Bethenny arrived it was controlled chaos with handlers positioning all the fans for photos and ushering them right off.  I think that many fans missed an appearance by he husband, who I spotted and shot a couple of photos of before he wandered off.  My turn at the front of the line happened so fast that I didn’t even get to say a single word to Bethenny, who seemed momentarily as confused as I was that we’d had no greeting or “goodbye” exchanged.  See, the people who handle the lines of fans waiting to meet talent don’t know what they’re doing most of the time and it makes things a little more crazy/intense than a situation should be…that is a conversation for another time. 

It was fun to meet the gal and from what I saw she was nothing but friendly more than happy to shoot a photo with and sign autographs for the many fans who waited in her long line.

Unfortunately for me I only had a one day pass so I was unable to attend the show the day before and meet the hottie Melissa Gorga. 

After that line I needed a drink.  It was just our luck (my friends and I) that the departing line for Bethenny led straight into the entry line for the wine/spirit-tasting area.  This was at capacity so we had to await the exit of someone before getting in, but don’t let that make you think it was too crowded because it wasn’t.  There was ample walking room in the sampling area and sample I did!  We were given a cup for wine and a cup for spirits, but since I don’t drink wine I sort of racked it up on various vodkas and other things.  Highlights for me were definitely (and surprisingly) the Skinnygirl Sangria, Adult Chocolate Milk and the Vieux Carre Absinthe.  After the show I actually went out and grabbed a bottle of the Adult Chocolate Milk because that was just too tasty to pass up!
When all was said and done I had a great day at the Philadelphia International Flower Show.  The crowds never stopped moving and everything was available for viewing within moments.  The non-floral entertainment was excellent and I’ve got to say…can’t wait for next year!

Special thanks to Stephanie Edwards for getting me into the show, my wife for putting up with me and our pals Karrie and JoAnne for coming and hangin' out with us for the day. A good time was had by all!  Now, onto the "bonus" photos!

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