Following nearly a year of planning, Kym Erickson, AAF,CF, MNCF, and her team at Soderberg’s in Minneapolis, transformed the agriculture building at the Minnesota State Fair into a woodland wonderland.
As president of the Minnesota State Floral Association, Erickson feels a duty to show the public the value of floriculture and considers the state fair, an annual event that draws nearly 2 million guests, an excellent opportunity.
“It’s all about the greater good of the floral industry in this state,” Erickson said.
The fair’s agriculture building “is very unusual”—octagon-shaped with eight halls that meet in a center rotunda with 16 columns. “The rotunda ceiling is 40-feet-tall, so the displays look best as they go up into the ceiling,” she said.
“For many years, we’ve had difficulty we’ve had difficulty with displays because the ceiling is so high,” she said. “This year, the fair people and I put our heads together.” They settled on the idea of a window trellis that mimicked the shape of the displays, which hung above by suspension cable. “I have a carpenter on staff who created them,” she said. “It really helped give our displays more dimension.”
As for inspiration, “every year it comes about in a different way,” Erickson said. She and three other florists brainstorm until they settle on a theme. This year, Soderberg’s had invested in “lady” frames to use in a showroom in Atlanta and a home and garden show in February, and decided to reuse them again for the fair. “We decided to each take a different color and design a lady around that.”
Planning took “many months of meetings and emails,” and execution took about two weeks, she said. “It required a lot of coordination with the fair because we cannot use their heavy equipment for liability reasons, but we direct their workmen on what we want done.”
The fair contributed $2,000 to each florist and Len Busch Roses donated plants and flowers, which were freshened in accordance with the weather. (The building was not air conditioned.) The staff also reused silver metal panels previously featured at a gala for a nonprofit in May. This year, a first, the florists added lighting and musical effects to the displays.
“This year was, by far, our best year, primarily because the fair made a deliberate decision to spend more money in this building this year,” Erickson said. “But we have set a precedent, so going forward, this will be bigger and bigger every year.”