Garden festival is this weekend

Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 2:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 2:23 p.m.

More than 7,000 gardening enthusiasts, novices and families are expected to attend the 23rd annual Kanapaha Botanical Gardens Spring Garden Festival. Featured will be two days of gardening advice, live entertainment, children's activities, food and lots of fun.

Hosted by Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, the festival will be held from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens at 4700 SW 58th Drive. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children ages 2-13. Only cash will be accepted. On Sunday, Family Day, children can get in for half-price.

Shuttle service to and from the gardens every 15 minutes will be available beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Kanapaha Park at 7400 SW 41st Place and Kanapaha Middle School at 5005 SW 75th St. Those attending also can use the parking lots at the park and the school.

Alexis Caffrey, director of Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, said the festival is Gainesville's premier horticultural event and the biggest fundraiser for the gardens. It also serves as a fundraiser for the Gainesville Garden Club beautification projects and the Florida Nurserymen and Growers Association scholarships.

"We rely on the spring festival to raise operating expenses," said Caffrey, adding that it costs $500,000 in operating expenses each year to keep Kanapaha's doors open.

Caffrey said this year's theme will be "Passalong Plants," in reference to plants that are high quality, easy to grow and passed along through generations of families and between friends.

New this year, Caffrey said, is an expanded children's activity area featuring a bounce house, face painting, arts and crafts, cookie walk, photo opportunities and a special guest appearance by the Chick-fil-A cow. The theme will be continued in the children's area as they plant a flowering plant complimentary of Hatchett Creek Nursery and take home a plant provided by Kanapaha.

There will be about 200 vendors offering plants, landscape displays, garden accessories, arts and crafts, educational exhibits and, of course, food. In addition, there will be a walk-through butterfly conservatory, live entertainment and live auctions of such things as plants and gardening-related material.

Caffrey said proceeds from the vendor booth sales are split three ways among the Gainesville Garden Club, the Florida Nurserymen and Kanapaha.

"Kanapaha doesn't receive public funds. All funding is generated by Kanapaha," said Caffrey.

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