May Garden Mart is Saturday, Sunday in Franklin

The 16th annual May Garden Mart will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday in West Park in Franklin.

The Franklin Gardeners Association will host the 16th annual May Garden Mart Saturday and Sunday in West Park in Franklin. West Park is the park featuring Egbert Fountain. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The event boasts nearly 45 vendors who will be offering plants, hand-crafted garden furniture, bushes, trees, lawn and garden equipment, gardening accessories and gardening advice.

She said the booths “fill up the park pretty well.”

Sue Hilton, May Garden Mart co-chair, said attendees will see many of their favorite vendors return to the event along with some newcomers.

Seven new vendors have signed up for the event, according to Hilton.

One vendor from Ohio will be selling stainless steel yard art. The pieces range from larger yard decor to smaller items like garden stakes and wine glass holders.

Another vendor features wooden projects which include big wooden planters, some shaped like animals and others that tout multiple barrels, Hilton said.

She said the event features such a wide variety of products including bird houses and baths to potting materials and more.

“There is a lot of really clever stuff,” she said.

One new food vendor specializes in selling long narrow rolled chocolate items with different flavorings inside, Hilton said.

Eight local greenhouses have signed up to participate. Most of them have double booths, she said.

There will be no shortage of plants with hanging baskets, shrubs, trees, herb and just about any kind of plant you can think of, she added.

“This is one stop shopping if you are looking to buy perennials, annuals and other items for your property,” gardeners association members said.

The event is also a great place to find Mother’s Day gifts, according to event co-chair Terri Wittreich.

Saturday there will be two presentations of interest to gardeners. At 10 a.m. Terri and Chuck Witherell of Venango County Master Gardeners will do a demonstration of soil blocking, which is “a cool, effective and easy way to start seeds.”

Then at 2:30 p.m. Valerie Walton of the Crawford County Master Gardeners will speak about pollinators and pollinator gardens to entice these all important species. Both talks will be held near the Egbert Fountain.

A performance by Steve Johnston on tin whistle and John Tenney on minstrel bones of the Venango Brigade is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. The Venango Brigade performs music from the Civil War era as well as traditional Irish and American folk tunes. Local guitarist, Jerome Wincek, will be featured on Sunday from noon to 2 p.m.

A children’s tent will be open both days for fun activities. Face painting, decorating flower pots, making finger puppets and Mother’s Day cards are the choices for the younger May Garden Mart patrons.

Each of the participating vendors donate items that will be raffled as prizes.

Tickets will also be sold throughout the event to give visitors a chance to win a rain barrel, a garden fountain or a garden scooter. All tickets will be available for purchase at the Franklin Gardeners Association tent near Egbert Fountain all day Saturday and until 2 p.m. on Sunday at which time tickets will be drawn. Winners need not be present to win.

“In addition, there will be a wide variety of food vendors offering pulled pork, barbecue chicken, sausage sandwiches, cupcakes and muffins, burgers and kettle corn,” the association said.

Hilton added that there will be picnic tables for those that want to sit down and eat.

“Of course, there are several wonderful eateries in downtown Franklin as well where one can enjoy a lovely spring day,” association members said.

Event co-chair Wittreich was hoping for good weather earlier in the week.

But she said the event will go on despite the weather.

“We will be there rain or shine,” she said.

Hilton anticipated a beautiful setting for the event.

The grass has just been cut grass and the park will be lovely with all the trees in bloom, she said.

Planning for future garden marts begins almost as soon as the current event is over, she said.

The committees meet and discuss what worked and what items that may need to be tweaked in future, she added.

And all that planning has made the event a success over the years.

The event has grown from a one-day event to two, Hilton said.

The May Garden Mart is a major fundraiser for the Franklin Gardeners Association, Wittreich said.

Funds are raised from vendor fees and raffles.

The Franklin Gardeners Association plants and maintains a perennial bed near the Franklin Fire Department.

The flowers are ordered through the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and they prepare the bed, Wittreich said.

“We plant the plants,” she said.

The association has Johnny apple seed plantings which include roses and apple trees near Franklin Avenue.

There are 19 lamppost baskets down Liberty Street that the association has a hand in and three planters near the bike trail at the Salt Box house.

Wittreich added that the Franklin fire department will water the lamppost baskets for the association when there hasn’t been enough rain.

She said the group is always open to new members. Those interested in joining may contact her at (814) 432-2054.