Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is Back

By Robert Bernstein

In March 2020, the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show was all built and ready to go at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. Thousands of orchids and dozens of exhibitors from around the world. Massive construction to create waterfalls and other water features. On the eve of the opening, it was all shut down for COVID. Never to be seen.

I should add that my wife Merlie had art installed that was never seen.

So, it was wonderful to see that the hard working people of the Orchid Society of Santa Barbara brought the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show back in a big way! And it really is international. One of the big sponsors and participants was Ecuagenera, all the way from Ecuador!

Here are some of my many photos from the three day extravaganza!

I have to give huge thanks to local orchid grower and event co-creator Parry Gripp. He paid me for the photo shoot and generously allowed me to share the photos with you for free. And thanks to the ever-talented and glamorous DJ Darla Bea for setting me up for this prized gig. Pictured above Parry and Darla Bea posed with famed media star John Palminteri.

Here Parry posed with his father Paul Gripp, a legendary local orchid grower.

Merlie had a new art entry, which she was honored to have accepted. Here she posed with it.

Here were more art pieces.

Big thanks to local Cal Orchid owners Lauris and James Rose for helping to create the event. They kindly posed for several photos, including this one with their award-winning exhibit. Including a small stream!

This photo shows the small stream at left. It is not easy setting up water features and keeping them from leaking!

On Sunday, Lauris posed with her Tim Badillo Trophy at her very busy Cal Orchid sales booth. A big part of the Orchid Show is a chance to buy orchids from expert growers, who can give tips for growing success.

Merlie and I were happy to be photographed in the prime photo op spot.

Ivan Portilla was one of the Ecuagenera people. All the way from Gualaceo in Azuay Province of Ecuador. He kindly posed with his international award and display.

An Orchid Doctor booth gave information about orchid diseases and how to prevent them.

Dr Daniel Geiger is a curator of Malacology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Mollusks! A marine biologist from land-locked Switzerland! He talked with me about his work classifying orchids. He has evidence that perhaps a quarter or more orchid species are actually duplicates. That still leaves a lot of genuine species!

Dr Geiger runs a scanning electron microscope (SEM) at the Museum. He showed how some drawings differ from the actual specimen.

This trichocereus cactus is not an orchid, but it was a notably fascinating mutant!

But most of the show is all about the orchids! Please be sure to look at some of my other photos at the link above. Here are a few more orchid photos.

For more information about the Orchid Society of Santa Barbara, please visit their web site here.

For more information about the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, please visit their web site here. You can also sign up for future notifications.


Written by sbrobert

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  1. DJ Darla Bea has an awesome show on KCSB FM 91.9 Sunday nights @8:00pm. Each show usually has a theme (e.g. James Bond + Surf). Wonder if she’ll be able to do a show with an orchid/flower theme?
    The one bummer is KCSB (and other stations) recently became unavailable on the Google smart-speaker platform. That might be due to iHeart Radio not having KCSB anymore. I bet you could use your phone or PC to cast KCSB but I haven’t tried yet.

  2. Orchids are one of my passions and have missed the shows for last couple years.
    For me the 10,000 plus types never get boring.
    We even have 10 orchids just in the master shower alone, and some are 15 years old.
    I made a decision to only grow good smelling orchids, so not a fan of average orchids.
    Have had a couple that were real stinkers.
    I’d post pics but can not.

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