The Cactus Patch
Volume 3       November 2000      Number 11

Our First Show and Sale
by Linda Cooley

The Bakersfield Cactus and Succulent Society is a relatively new and small organization. We have been a group for about 3 years and have about 30 members (20 of which are very active in the club). Our small club was encouraged to put on a show and sale of our own by two members, Rob and Terry Skillin, who had experience organizing a Show and Sale while members of the Santa Barbara Cactus and Succulent Society. It took a while for the club to actually commit to a non-judged, educational show and sale. And, even then, it seemed such a daunting task that three of us teamed up to co-chair the event. Terry Skillin was our able leader, assisted by Bonnie East and Linda Cooley. We began planning very early--at least 9 months before we actually had the show and sale. At that time, Terry was the only co-chair to have any experience putting on a show and sale, Linda had been to several shows and sales, and Bonnie had never been to one!

Our first (and most difficult) job was to find a location for the show and sale. There seemed to be no place in Bakersfield that was a reasonable size and price for our needs. We considered lots of options (teaming with another event, the Museum of Art, the Kern County Fair), but these ideas didn't work out. Finally, we approached the two shopping malls in town. At first we were told "no". We inquired further at the East Hills Mall, and finally, they agreed! All this negotiating for a place to have our S&S took months. We finally were able to set a date of October 7&8 for our event. Now we could get down to the actual work of the Show and Sale!

We tried quite diligently to involve our members in the process. We had several programs that emphasized showing plants. Woody Minnich came and talked to us about presenting our plants in the best way--and critiqued some of the plants brought in to the meeting. Erika VanAuker came and talked about making her pots, and sold us quite a few! We rented the CSSA slide show about shows, which was good for comic relief (it was so old!), but also had lots of good advice.

Members signed up to work during the two-day event. They were also recruited to do the educational displays about geographical regions and the succulents they contained, as well as displays about "What is a Succulent?", "What is a Cactus?", monstrose and crested plants, and a photographic display of flowering succulents. The Show and Sale Committee began meeting more often and jobs were divvied up among the members. Lynn McDonald volunteered to do publicity for the show and sale. Rob Skillin, Maynard Moe, and Bruce Hargreaves were put in charge of figuring out how all the tables were going to fit in the space available at the mall, Stephen Cooley was asked to make a list of succulents that could grow outside in Bakersfield, and Rob said he would contact vendors for the sale. Bonnie was in charge of taking the design that Linda had drawn made into T-shirts, Linda volunteered to organize an art contest for the kids at the Show and Sale, and Terry kept up the contact with the East Hills Mall people, organized insurance coverage, and kept us supplied with encouragement and good ideas based on her experience with the shows and sales she was involved with in Santa Barbara.

The last week before the sale approached. A local TV station featured Bruce and Terry in a live interview about the event. Lynn was featured on a local gardening radio show, discussing the show and sale. The Bakersfield newspaper did a full page spread on growing cactus in the garden, with interviews of many members and photographs of Maynard and Linda's cactus garden. Members were frantically finishing up their preparations for the big weekend.

Setting up for the show began Friday night and continued on Saturday morning, with members arriving with their plants and displays. It started looking great! At 10 am the Mall opened and people started flocking to our Show and Sale. We had so many people! We were busy every minute and were thankful for members who worked long past their assigned work periods. Sales were brisk, and many people commented on the show plants and displays. Lots of kids participated in the art contest, drawing some of the plants on display and trying to win cactus and succulents and gift certificates donated by the Mall. The Show and Sale continued on Sunday, another busy day. At 4 pm the show closed. Members took down the displays, boxed up the plants, and cleaned up. Everyone agreed that the Show and Sale has succeeded well past expectations.

On Tuesday evening the show and sale committee met one last time, to discuss the pros and cons of the show. Rob presented some statistics: There were 198 plants in the show, with an additional 53 plants shown with the educational displays (total plants=251); The Aloe, Euphorbia, and Mammillaria categories each had 18 plants shown, while the categories of Ariocarpus/Obregonia and Mesembs each had 13 plants shown. Fifteen members brought plants to show, and 8 members prepared educational displays. In our discussion of the Show and Sale, we agreed that next time we would need more space and more members to be present at the event. Our first Show and Sale took a lot of time and effort, but we all seemed to agree that it was worth it! And we feel that the second show and sale won't be so difficult.

Heidy Hernandez age 13

Llara age 6

Caitlin Murray age 10

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