4/24/2011 6:00:00 AM
Kingman Home & Garden Expo a disappointment

Butch Meriwether

Butch's Brew

Everybody needs a good laugh once in a while since the economy nowadays depresses most everyone, and it's said that laughter is one of the best medicines.

I don't know if you had an opportunity to visit the Home & Garden Expo held at the Mohave County Fair Grounds last weekend.

This isn't the first home and garden show I have ever attended. I've been to the really large ones in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties in California and the Clallam County Fair in Washington that always has outstanding home and garden displays.

I am still attempting to figure out if I was lucky for going to the expo or not so lucky for being talked into going to the "giant" home and garden extravaganza held at the Mohave County Fairgrounds.

The group of people I went with had great expectations of visiting the booths to see what ideas to make their yards better looking, to learn more about drought-resident plants and trees, and to see the demonstration by Dave Owens, The Garden Guy. We all thought it would be a nice way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon and possibly learn some new "trick" ways to make a yard look better and be more functionable.

As we drove into the lot, there were attendants collecting a $2 parking fee (double what it was last year) and, surprisingly, we noticed there weren't very many vehicles in the parking lot. I thought to myself that there should be more vehicles there, since the home and garden expo is purported to be one of the premier events held in Mohave County.

We quickly found an open space in the second row, parked and casually walked toward the entrance, where there were more than 15 people standing in line to pay their admission fee. The line moved very slowly, and I tried to figure out why it was taking so much time to get to the tollbooth in order to pay to get in. When we finally reached the booth, it was immediately obvious to all of us. They had a young girl collecting the money, and once someone gave her their entrance fee, she turned to a guy and handed the money to him. He in turn made change if needed and then handed it back to her. It was almost painful to see the money-taking operation because the young girl then picked up a roll of tickets and contemplated how many tickets she would give me for the four people I had just paid for.

Upon receiving our tickets, we had to immediately hand them to a guy who was sitting in a chair adjacent to the money booth so he could stamp our hands. I guess this is the classic "checks and balances."

Finally, we were able to enter the fenced area to enjoy the booths, check out the various vendors and sample the food being sold.

As soon as we got within the coveted fairground perimeter, my cousin said she was hungry so we walked past the various trailers along the food court to see what was for sale. We all finally agreed upon some food offered, but I won't say which items we bought and from who. The prices seemed a bit high, but I thought of supply and demand, a captive audience, and of course the vendors had to pay in order to be allowed to sell their food.

I think the biggest thing I observed while walking along the food court was there were no county food police (health department personnel). I know the Mohave County Health Department had been there earlier because I observed the health department certifications prominently posted on the various food trailers. I myself had previously attended the food handlers' class offered by the county, and I know when serving food, you're supposed to be wearing disposable gloves. I honestly thought the county might have a health inspector walking around during the event to keep track to ensure the food vendors were compliant with the various health regulations. Wrong answer. I didn't see any food vendors wearing disposable gloves while handling food products.

Upon consuming the food we purchased (it wasn't too bad either), we headed into the large building directly across from us to check out all of the cool stuff being displayed and sold by the vendors.

I'll have to admit, I was very disappointed as for the amount and types of vendors at the expo. I believe everyone who went to the expo could immediately tell the folks who produced the event didn't do their homework in regard to who they should invite as vendors.

As a matter of fact, I doubt that the home and garden officials even took the effort to solicit certain companies. None of the "big four" home improvement centers were represented. I would have expected and hoped to see Kingman True Value, Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Lowes at the expo showing off their new products.

Besides that, if I was one of the people promoting the event, I would have invited and ensured the various local nurseries would have been represented so they could explain about drought-resistant plants and trees. It would have been nice to see actual displays by the local nurseries highlighting the various plants and trees they have in stock.

There appeared to be more out-of-town vendors present, and you would think the fairground association would have attempted to get more local businesses to participate since county and city officials are always saying "buy locally."

Sure, there were numerous energy-related businesses explaining and offering their services, with solar, wind and other energy-sufficient items such as heating and air conditioning. Many of them even offered to come out to your house and complete an energy survey to see if you could save money.

I don't know exactly how much the specific vendors paid to display their wares and services, but looking at the amount or lack of people who attended the event on Saturday while I was there, they paid too much. Granted, the minimum cost for an outside 10 X 10 spot without electricity was only $115 and an inside-the-building 10 X 10 spot with electricity was $165 for the three-day expo. I'll bet the pool company from Kingman paid big bucks for the area because they had an above-ground pool set up in addition to other items.

I also can't say how much Brown's Amusement paid for their large area they were set up in, but maybe they had cut a deal with the Mohave County Fairgrounds Association to receive some of the profits for the amusement rides and games. From what I observed during my visit to the expo, Brown's Amusement is probably the only vendor who made a lot of money by taking it from the kids of Kingman.

I'll have to admit that I did learn one thing by watching Dave Owens, The Garden Guy's demonstration. I learned that vinegar is an excellent way to kill unwanted weeds. However, be sure you don't spray it near your other plants and bushes, because the vinegar will kill them too and it also changes the ph factor of the dirt. What that means is you won't be able to grow anything else in the area sprayed with vinegar for two years, except tomatoes.

It seemed that Dave Owens, The Garden Guy, was the major draw to this year's Mohave County Home & Garden Expo. You would have thought the association officials would have provided him a larger area and more prominent location for him to display his garden-related items and merchandise. Besides that, you would have thought the public address announcer would have coordinated messages over the loud speakers so it would have not made Mr. Owens stop his presentation numerous times because the spectators couldn't hear him.

I'm glad our visit to the expo wasn't a three-day adventure, but as I previously said, the Home and Garden Expo made me laugh just thinking certain people believe that it was a great event conducted in Mohave County.

I could have stayed home, saved my money spent on parking, the entrance fee and food, and learned more about home improvement and garden tips by watching the DIY (Do It Yourself) network on TV.

As for their grade, I believe the Mohave County Fairgrounds Association got a D- for effort and an F for execution.

Hopefully, next year the committee promoting the expo will seek out advice from experts in the various home and garden fields, such as home improvement centers and nurseries, in order to present a premier event in Mohave County instead of the lackluster event they held this year.
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