Mayor Helene Schneider has been Mayor of Santa Barbara since 2010. She is recognized as being very accessible and focusing on long-term planning, infrastructure improvements, public safety, and social services. Mayor Schneider considers her greatest achievement to be earning the trust of the Santa Barbara residents.
Denise Leaser, publicist for the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show said, “We are very honored to have Mayor Helene Schneider present at our opening ceremony on March 14th. Most people, even those living in Santa Barbara, don’t realize the part orchids have played in Santa Barbara’s rich history. Mayor Schneider will bring recognition to the history Santa Barbara has with orchids going back to some if its earliest affluent residents. She will also honor the local breeders and growers, who with years of hard work and dedication, have become internationally recognized for their contributions to the industry. We are excited to have Mayor Schneider participate in this amazing event.”
Orchids in Santa Barbara took root at the turn of the century, when wealthy industrialists came to the area’s burgeoning spas and resorts to escape harsh, eastern winters. Many visitors stayed on, building estates and commissioning world-class horticulturists and landscape architects to design elaborate gardens. Exotic orchids became the rage, with mass plantings of Cymbidiums and other unusual species adding prestige to Montecito and Hope Ranch estates.
During World War II, orchid breeders in Europe sent plants to the United States to protect them from being destroyed in the war. Many of which came to Santa Barbara, as it is one of the few places in the country that is ideal for growing certain types of cold-weather orchids outdoors. Despite their reputation as exotic, pampered flowers, orchids are surprisingly easy to grow. Long-blooming Cymbidiums, Laelias and Epidendrums flourish outdoors in mild climates. Indoors, moth orchids and lady slippers will bloom for months in ordinary household conditions.
Just after World War II, Signal Oil magnate Samuel B. Mosher helped to cement Santa Barbara’s status as an orchid empire by assembling one of the world’s finest breeding collections at his Dos Pueblos Orchid Company. Later, other large commercial growers developed facilities in the area, including Gallup & Stribling, Cal Orchid and the Santa Barbara Orchid Estate. By the mid-1980’s, Gallup & Stribling was the world’s largest producer of Cymbidium orchids and have the distinction of winning more Grand Champion prizes than any other commercial or individual grower at the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.
Today, local orchid breeding programs have become internationally recognized for their introductions and quality specimens. Growers travel to Santa Barbara from all over the world to select breeding stock from our local orchid breeders. With the advent of mass retailing of orchids and high-tech laboratory techniques that make possible the cloning of a wide variety of orchids, orchid prices have dropped. The beautiful flowers are now far less expensive and more readily available.
The first Santa Barbara Orchid Show, organized by the Santa Barbara Horticultural Society, took place in 1945 at the Montecito Grange Hall. As orchid growing in the Santa Barbara area by both commercial growers and hobbyists continued to expand, the premier show was welcomed as an ideal showcase for the area’s top orchids. In 1947, the show moved to the State Armory on Santa Barbara’s Eastside. During the early and formative years of the event, show manager Eliot Rogers, a local cymbidium grower who had strong connections within the local orchid community, as well as orchid establishments in England, was able to obtain prized cymbidiums from the U.K. in both pre- and post-WWII times. Known to be a keen judge of cymbidiums, he possessed one of the finest cut-flower collections of his day.
The show moved to its present location, Earl Warren Showgrounds, when the rotunda building opened in the early 1960s. Throughout the years, the rotunda and exhibitor hall have played host to some of the finest orchids in the world. Today, the annual event is widely recognized for its grand displays and quality orchids for sale. There is a waiting list for vendors and exhibitors wanting to display at the show, who are allowed in the show by invitation only. The show attracts over 10,000 visitors from all over the world each year and with over 35,000 square feet of orchids in the display and sales areas, the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is one of the largest botanical attractions in the West. The show, which is celebrating its 69thconsecutive year, has become one of the many highlights and much-anticipated events in the Santa Barbara area. The show appeals to a wide variety of individuals, including: avid photographers, interested amateur gardeners, enthusiastic orchid growers, and anyone who enjoys the captivating beauty of orchids.
Attendees will marvel at this most diverse and complex of plant families on display in intriguing garden exhibits and floral arrangements by top local, regional and international growers. A juried exhibition managed by the Santa Barbara Art Association allows visitors to experience orchids as the focus of fine art and photography. For those who wish to bring a touch of orchid color home, the extensive sales area includes regional and international vendors offering thousands of blooming orchid plants, orchid-related art and growing supplies for sale. Visitor and exhibitor information is available on our web site atwww.SBOrchidShow.com
Known as the Cymbidium capital of the United States, Santa Barbara is also home to the 39th Annual Cymbidium Congress, hosted by the Cymbidium Society of America, is also held in conjunction with the show. Visit www.cymbidium.org for information on the Congress.
General admission to the show is $12, seniors / students w/ID $10; children 12 and under are free with a paying adult. Individual tickets can be purchased at the show box office or through Ticketmaster. Group sales information is available on the website at www.sborchidshow.com, via email at sborchidshowpublicity@
The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is a non-profit 501(c) organization dedicated to bringing the enjoyment of orchids to the public. The venue is easy to reach at the Las Positas Road exit from Highway 101 in Santa Barbara.