AP NEWS

Annual Master Gardner Plant Fair draws big crowd

May 12, 2019

MOUNT VERNON — Organizers said they counted 350 people in line before the start of the Washington State University Skagit County Extension Master Gardener Plant Fair on Saturday at the Skagit County Fairgrounds.

Some had wagons and carts, ready to stock up on plants, vegetables starts and more for the season.

Dave Buchan, incoming president of the Skagit Master Gardener program, estimates it was the largest crowd he’s seen in five years.

“The quick buyers were in and out,” he said.

The annual plant sale supports education and outreach programs, such as the Discovery Gardens in Mount Vernon, youth education, plant diagnostic clinics and more.

Master Gardeners are trained volunteers that share research-based information with home gardeners, according to the extension.

“(I like) helping people get interested in gardening and what they can do,” said Claire Cotnoir, a Master Gardner intern.

The fair included a mix of plants grown by Master Gardeners and other vendors.

Samantha Stevenson of Freerange Produce in Mount Vernon said her farm was using the fair as a trial run.

“We’re amazed we’re selling as much as we are,” she said.

Twyla McAuliffe, a Master Gardner who recently transferred to Skagit from the Snohomish program, said she was impressed with the community’s enthusiasm for gardening.

“I’ve doubled my (volunteer) hours,” she said.

Organizers said they had counted about 1,900 attendees halfway through the event.

The event also featured the Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association Branch 26’s 36th annual Gas-Up Day.

The organization, which has branches nationwide, preserves and educates the public about early tractors and engines, some dating back to the early 1900s, said Morrie Robinson, one of the branch founders.

On display were single-cylinder gas engines formerly used to power water pumps, grain grinders and other equipment, he said.

“That’s what we did before farmers had electricity,” he said.

The Skagit branch was started in 1986.