A variety of patio design options included this stark, eye-popping Dramatic Modern setup that can be part of your backyard for the high, high price of don’t-even-ask.
In our previous installment, you saw flowers and nothing but flowers from the 2016 Indiana Flower and Patio Show. But the exhibition, sprawled across two buildings at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, has so much more to offer than pretty flower displays. Various vendors offer gardening implements, flower and vegetable seeds, digging advice, contest drawings/telemarketing signups, garage finishing services, gutter-cleaning inventions, non-stick cookware, liquor, chocolate, nuts, coffee cakes, summer sausage, massages, eyelashes, poor abandoned pets, Indianapolis Star subscriptions, and more more more. And if you love aggressive sales pitches, DirecTV bought five separate booths specifically to irritate me, because the four booths they had last year didn’t do the job thoroughly enough, according to their anti-me tone-deaf focus groups.
But enough about marketing peeves. Let the pageantry and shopping begin!
Another patio option: romantic candles covering all the furniture. You’ll be irresistible to your loved one and all bugs within a two-mile radius.
Pro landscapers can install this sleeping giant in/under your lawn. Dare the neighborhood kids to wake it up!
Got an unused gas pump lying in your basement or in storage? Cary it out, prop it up, and help make service-station chic the next design wave.
Go back to basics with traditional singing fountain birds.
Or declare “Basics, shmasics” and scar your garden with this acid-trip fish covered in gunshot wounds. If visitors make faces at it, lecture them about its unflinching depiction of the eternal struggle between man and nature. Or something.
Buy several pounds of pretty gemstones and set them on fire. Because it feels right.
Fake cupcakes liven up any fancy patio bar.
Don’t like any of the furniture you see? FINE. If you think it’s so easy, buy some sheets of marble and carve your own.
Many vendors sold baby flowers and plants to take home, leaving you to replant them and raise them to maturity hopefully without murdering them in their soil. Of all the contenders, Fairy Flowers had the cutest labels.
My wife with her Mamaw, age 90. The Flower & Patio Show is like her Super Bowl. Her brother, age 80, works security and scores her free tickets every year. Fun family.
Green strobe lights swarm Mamaw at a mosquito-repellent-tech booth. Pretty and kinda disconcerting. At first we thought one of us was having a stroke.
One of our must-buys every year: goodies from the South Bend Chocolate Company. Mamaw can never, ever have enough dark chocolate.
Mamaw loves her jewelry booths. She used to bring her favorite watch with her so one particular jeweler could change her battery every time, but we haven’t seen him around in a while. I hope it wasn’t something she said.
One of my own favorite booths: CC’s Specialty Foods, purveyors of “Chicago’s Finest Coffee Cakes”. If that’s a misnomer, I invite every Chicago coffee cake baker to come on down and prove them wrong by giving me lots of free testing samples. For science.
One thing we don’t do: cooking demos meant to sell us kitchenware. “Look! We brought flowers! We’re totally on topic!” That’s nice.
Men attending the show can browse riding lawn mowers, tools, barbecue sauces (high-five to the returning folks at Master’s Hand BBQ, last seen at January’s Fantastic Food Fest) probably farming implements, and necessary equipment such as this on-the-nose pig grill.
The Tin Man wouldn’t judge you by your refusal to buy anything if he only had a heart.
Greatest Diorama of the Year: Hobbiton! Every lawn-care fanatic wishes their grass and topiary played a Shire-level game.
Raggedy Ann and Andy are still waiting for their big-screen big-budget grim-‘n’-gritty reboot. Their turn will come, right after Buster Brown and shortly before the Katzenjammer Kids.
Mandatory Minions merchandise.
Mamaw likes to stop by the various animal-rescue booth and say hi to the adorable denizens waiting for the call to their forever home. One of her daughters adopted a greyhound like that. Kitty’s turn will come.
If you’re showing up just to pick up chicks, you’re in for disappointment. They’re cute and plucky, but these chicks couldn’t be bought.
…and that’s the show that was. Special thanks to the renovation vendor who was passing out a free loaf of artisan white bread — not a slice, an entire loaf — to each and every passerby while supplies lasted. It was the perfect gift for making sandwiches in your new fancy patio, or just for tossing crumbs to the neighborhood geese and kids.
See you next year!