About The St Ives Orchid Fair
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The St Ives Orchid Fair
One hall filled with orchid displays and floral art. One hall filled with stalls selling orchid plants and flasks, orchid pots, orchid supplies and orchid books. Ample parking. Wheelchair access. Plenty of room for buses and picnics and barbecues. Light lunches for sale and refreshments all day, catered by the Lions Club. Early spring in Sydney. The fragrance of orchid flowers. Raffles drawn throughout the day. National Park bushland with walking tracks and native orchids in flower. What more could the orchid lover ask? – The St Ives Orchid Fair.
Well, the four orchid societies who got together to organise the St Ives Orchid Fair believe that this combination of venue, show and vendors means we have the premier orchid event in the Sydney area. If the first two Fairs are a reliable guide, we are right.
In 1999 members of the committees of four local societies: Ku-ring-gai Orchid Society, Manly Warringah Orchid Society, North Shore Orchid Society, and the Warringah Group of the Australasian Native Orchid Society, got together to discuss the idea of putting on an orchid event together. As all orchid societies are well aware, it has been getting harder and harder to find suitable venues for shows. Shopping centres have changed their policies and prize money sponsorship has become scarce.
We thought maybe we could do something in our area, and we did. The joint societies’ organising committee quickly became a cohesive unit and worked well and efficiently, and hard, and the first Fair took place on Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 18th, 19th & 20th August 2000. As August approached, the committee was excited but apprehensive, but we had good support from participating societies with large displays planned by the four organising societies plus Eastwood, S.P.E.C.I.E.S., and the Cymbidium Club, and also Royale Orchids.
There were several table top displays booked and the addition of floral art provided a further dimension and we felt we had something to interest all flower lovers as well as orchid enthusiasts.
In the other hall we had carefully planned the layout for the stalls for vendors of orchids and pots and fertilisers, etc. The four organising societies for the St Ives Orchid Fair also had a joint sales table. After all, for the amount of effort put in by them to stage an event like this, it is only fair that the members of the societies who do the work get some benefit.
In issuing invitations to vendors the organising committee was aware of the desirability of providing a wide range of quality orchids for sale. The idea was that buyers would have plenty of choices, and should be satisfied whether they were after flowering plants or the latest seedlings. People would be able to choose from a selection including Cymbidiums, phalaenopsis, Oncidiums, mini “catts”, native Dendrobiums and Sarcochilus, native and Australasian species and hybrids, exotic species, “brachy” and “parvi” Paphiopedilums, Masdevallias and Zygopetalums.
It would not matter whether visitors went to the sales hall or displays first, as the one entrance fee would cover both halls.
The set-up for the displays took place on Thursday, 15th August 2000, with judging that night. The full local AOC judging panel was required and it was a long night. The quality of the orchids was high and there were a number of quality awards granted, and an Award of Cultural Commendation to a superbly flowered plant of Dockrillia teretifolia. Grand Champion Orchid was Dendi Orchids’ Potinara Free Spirit ‘Laina’.
Any fears the organising committee had that the event would not be popular had evaporated by midday on the Friday. Orchid lovers certainly like to get to the sales tables early!
The first year the weather was just about perfect. The second year it was not so kind, with strong winds some days and overcast conditions. But that is Sydney in August and there is nothing we can do about the weather. It didn’t matter though because the displays and sales are indoors. Despite the weather, attendance figures improved the second year and we are now confident that the combination of quality displays and quality vendors is a winner.
It seemed we had a successful formula, and the event was repeated in 2001 and every year since. The quality last year, 2013, was exceptionally high.
A bonus for the native orchid enthusiast is the location.
St Ives Showground is set in bushland, and a short stroll from the display and sales halls you can find native beauties like Thelymitra ixioides.
We are looking forward to the 16th annual St Ives Orchid Fair which will take place on Friday 14th, Saturday 15th, and Sunday 16th August 2015. There will again be an excellent range of vendors, displays, paintings, photography and floral art. See our Show schedule for further information.
St Ives Orchid Fair Organising Committee.