What exactly is the Cincinnati Flower Show? Images of tents full of floral displays and talented gardeners may come to mind. And while it is those things to be sure, it’s also much more. J.W. Fleckenstein, director of the show, says, “The idea is to showcase people, to really showcase the designers and landscapers of the Cincinnati area.” 

The show, which first started 27 years ago, has retained its classic elements while adding activities and events to interest a wider range of people. The show, held April 13-17 at Yeatman’s Cove downtown, is featuring attractions that will appeal to people across the Tristate, from the hard-core gardeners to the foodies. 

The Gardeners

Don’t worry garden lovers—this is still your show. The iconic themed landscape gardens, created by local landscapers and designers, will still be there. They will, however, have a twist. Each garden will be inspired one of Cincinnati’s nine sister cities, as this year’s theme is An International Adventure. 

The week will also include lectures from gardening experts. “One of the main purposes of the show is education, to educate people when it comes to gardening and horticulture,” says Fleckenstein. The week includes lectures from guests like author Andrea Wulf, from local experts like the Cincinnati Zoo’s Scott Beuerlein, and on topics as varied as planting roses to planting trees.

Family Entertainment

While lectures may not sound fun to kids, the Flower Show is also committed to educating children. “Thursday is Children’s Day,” says Fleckenstein. “That’s when the schools will all bus children in. They go through the whole show, and then there’s a children’s tent where they get to pot a plant and take it home with them.” 

The Kids Potting Program and Education Tent will be there all week, so families can visit even when it’s not Children Day.

Quality Shoppers

It’s not all about education, though, as the show is committed to showcasing talent in a variety of areas. Those who go the show can do more than meet artists and craftsmen—they can also take home a piece of their work thanks to the many shopping opportunities. 

The Artist’s Studio is an ideal place where attendees can shop. “It’s made up of 20 local artisans, everything from watercolorists to oil painters,” says Fleckenstein. “It’s a very strict competition to get into that part of the show itself, so it really highlights 20 of the top artists in the Cincinnati area. All their items are for sale.”

Shoppers can also explore the Gardener’s Market and Plant Market to find more special items to purchase. 

Cuisine Cravers

Due to its success last year, the Fine Food Show has returned this year and will cover all five days of the show. It’s the perfect opportunity to bring shoppers and foodies together. 

“The Fine Food Show itself is made up of 25 different vendors who sell all different products from olive oil to food mixers to breads to pastries—anything that has to do with gourmet dining,” says Fleckenstein. In addition, shoppers can peruse vendors selling items like French linens and pottery. 

Attendees who are looking to eat at the show will find a plethora of gourmet options. Aside from concession stands throughout the show, four different restaurants will be serving full meals and quick bites. Eat Well, a caterer in Newport, Ky., will have a small café with indoor and outdoor dining. Luigi’s Italian Restaurant will serve classic Italian dishes. Chef’s Choice, situated inside the Fine Food Show pavilion, offers a more casual option with its croissants and sandwiches. On the more formal side, Jean-Robert will be serving French cuisine and wine.

“We try to have food for everyone,” says Fleckenstein.

Social Butterflies

While the exhibits and pavilions in the show offer plenty of entertainment, the Flower Show also has a full list of special events for those looking for a fun evening downtown. Events to note include An Evening in Munich on Wednesday, the Wine Tasting with John Morris Russell and the Cincinnati Poptets on Thursday, a Soiree with Our Sister Cites on Friday, and a Bourbon Tasting with mixologist Molly Wellmann and the Spring Fling with the Naked Karate Girls on Saturday. The whole show even kicks off with an Opening Gala Tuesday night. 

Floral Tradition

When the show was originally created, its goal was to showcase local talent while also bringing people in to learn more about gardening. That’s why the event also features traditional events and exhibits. The show always includes, for example, the Dramatic Table Settings, which are dramatic tabletop settings that are done by florists, interior designers and event planners. Each of these settings will be inspired by a sister city.

Another traditional attraction is the Amateur Flower Show. “[It’s] a flower show within the flower show, and those are the local garden clubs of Cincinnati that put on their show within our show,” says Fleckentstein.

Ladies Day on Friday and the Afternoon Tea on Sunday give guests the opportunity to dress and enjoy the more traditional side of the show. On Ladies Day, women tour the show in the morning before sitting down for a luncheon and lecture from former White House florist Laura Dowling. And this year’s Afternoon Tea will feature a Southern theme. “It’s fun to see everybody all dressed up and attend a really formal tea-type thing,” says Fleckenstein.

One of this year’s new shows is sure to become a new tradition. The Brides & Blooms event will be a bridal show within the Flower Show that features a variety of local vendors and a fashion show. “We’re excited to bring fashion into the whole thing, and also flowers incorporated all together,” says Fleckenstein.

Ultimately, the show is an opportunity to bring people with a variety of interests together to celebrate the floral, design and culinary talents of the region. When asked what he loves about the show, Fleckenstein said, “I enjoy the reactions of people’s faces when they come and they see what we can do to this riverfront, and how we transform Yeatman’s Cove… It’s fun to be in the background and hear people’s reactions.”