Orchid News # 34
XIX WOC



19th World Orchid Conference and Tamiami International Orchid Festival
Impressions from a compulsive orchidist (orchidmaniac?)


                                                     by Carlos Antonio Akselrud de Gouveia

On January the 23rd, 2008, we woke excited and anxious. I and Jorge Abreu, mates of madness, were tired after a day trip - 12 hours with a stop in Panama - as soon as arrived in Florida, we went straight to Motes nursery.
In the following day, we woke up early and took the road to Fort Pierce - 130 miles away- to pry into Odom's Orchids. On the way back, a stop at Home Depot to buy things and we arrived dead in the hotel. We planned the follow days, many things to do and little time, we checked the displays to see and, finally, we dropped off to sleep, tired but excited.
Bad and fast breakfast, we jumped into car and there we were. The mess was big, no one knew exactly where was the show, where was the conference strictly speaking. Finally, we got the show entrance with a pressed crowd. First impact: The WOC's display presentation, with many flowers, flamingos and macaws, ALIVE! I read in the Internet that there domesticated and since they were young, they used to live on the grass, without leaving it, and for that reason, they were docile, walking without showing any worry. It was quite 'kitsch', but authentic. It looked like Miami.
The lines were enormous, three volunteers, all in the third age, received the payment in different windows: one for money, one for check and one for credit card.
Speed was not an attribute of the diligent collaborators.
Admission ticket paid (expensive, US$ 20), pushed again to get in.
And then, the spectacle!
Many displays among many boxes of selling. All of them filled with flowers. No matter how many shows we have already seen, the impact for the first time is hallucinating. Only later, we turn on the analyzer, the beginning is pure ecstasy. I won't detail the show because Delfina and Sérgio stayed there more and saw the opening and registered pictures in a more organized way than me, I keep some comments to do in the end of the article.
After a Wednesday promenading ourselves up and down around the nurseries - Banjong, Soroa e Fuchs, with Maurício Verboonen and Nilton, we finished our day invading another show, Tamiami International Show.
Yes, two concomitant shows!!!
That is, who thinks that stubbornness and spite is something from rustic people coming from the third world, in the austral Florida the vanity and commercial conflict also produce their paradoxes.
Tamiami, obviously, was less magnificent but identically beautiful and exciting and much less formal.
Many exhibitors were in WOC and Tamiami.
There the admission ticket was cheaper (US$ 7) and the vendors' displays were more generous.
For the show, WOC, for buying Tamiami and, for us, many ground to walk over.
The next day, Tamiami, there the madness was to find quickly what to buy. Contrary of the other shows, le audience goes to buy with small handcart (Do you remember Tubby Tompkins' hand cart?) and if you hesitate, it is over. However buying at the first sight also gives displeasures, better and cheaper plants could be at the next display... What an insanity!
Buzz,buzz, buzz, aside shoves, seeing again many people and be introduced to many people. Find and buy plants which you always dreamed and find and buy plants that you have never dreamed they exist. However also disappointment because not every vendor brings novelties, some are limited to the basic and you were not looking for this that you went there.
Then it is time to go back to the WOC, on Saturday to see again, to take pictures and to talk a lot. Time to criticize.
Tamiami, on Sunday, close the orchid adventure.
Now it is time to pack and to prepare the plants, much more than we should buy. And dream with the next that no one knows when could be attended.
Bellow the comments and histories about the Shows:
  1. Krull & Smith's display was the great highlight. Good taste, boldness, wonderful plants, quality and an incredible quantity. The tree of Phalaenopsis and the river of Phragmipedium made any jaw to drop.
    It is not the champion. Yankee petty politics.
  2. Remarkable the small displays by Andy's and Hoosier. The first with its amazing miniatures and the other with terrestrial plants. Orquídeas del Valle da Colombia also showed Masdevallias glass globes hanged that were impressive.
  3. In general, the exhibitors dare a little, good plants but bureaucratic. In Rio, there was more creativity.
  4. There were also bad prominence. There was a display with two tree stumps surmounted by Dendrobium nobile. Awful. During my administration in OrchidaRio (our local orchid society), I would sent the guy back...
  5. In Tamiami, Martin Motes showed a multitude of colors of his Vanda and relatives. There was a group of Vanda tesselata var. boxalli to let every one mad about, all of high quality. Who wanted to see Vandas should go there, nothing in the WOC could be compared.
  6. In spite of the verbiage, there were plants coming from wood in abundance, in both shows. Everything with CITES.
  7. Singapore presented a beautiful arrangement of cut flowers, anticipating the spectacle in the next WOC happening there.
    South Africa that run and won for being the seat of the 2014, had also a display full of Disas. For the first time, I have seen those very difficult plants alive and in colors. What colors!!!
  8. It is a pity that Brazil (specially Rio) had a little attendance. Florália in the WOC, Bela Vista in Tamiami and Ecoorquídeas in both shows were an exception and I think that they didn't regret. Wenzel was else there with his American branch, Amazonia Orchids.
  9. Visitors from Rio de Janeiro, I also saw just few, besides me and Jorge, Maurício Verboonen, Delfina, Sérgio Araujo, our President, Maria do Rosário and no one else.
    It was a lost opportunity, Miami is nearby, has a lot of nurseries, speak English and Spanish, the climate is favorable, it will not be easy to visit a WOC so soon.
  10. Behind the scene: it was a common sense that the American marketing is strongly decreasing. The fact is that many nurseries among the ones we have visited were quite poor and one of them was unrecognizable, empty. I won't mention the name in order to avoid susceptibility.
  11. It was said, in a whisper that Bob Fuchs had sold his property, nurseries, house and etc, transferring everything soon after the WOC. If confirmed, it will be a thump the departure of the powerful leader of SFOS.
  12. When we did the WOC, in 1996, the exigencies were enormous and the criticism was fierce. The great controller, 'The AOS', when host a Conference, shows its wounds:
    • Staring by the lines - in Rio, there were 5 ticket windows, which got any kind of payment, with hired professionals, much more efficient than volunteers.
    • The food court was a chaos, without any alternative with insufficient room. People paid for the food (more enormous lines) and went to eat in the areas of open lectures where there were chairs.
    • The high price disheartened coming back. On Sunday, the vendors would die of melancholia if wouldn't have each other to talk. In Tamiami, the presence was big looking for offers and fire sale.
    • Toninho from Bela Vista, on Sunday, took his time walking and chatting, without any plant.
    • I remembered Álvaro Pessoa who had his plants 'donated' by an anonymous at the end of the WOC-96. When Ecoorquídeas went to dismount the display, found a frightful scene: Every thing was taken, plants, awards, the identification plate even the maidenhair used for the decoration.
      Getting in touch with organization, they received a 'we are very sorry' and goodbye. Can you imagine if it happens in Rio, with an American nursery?
    • It was nice while it lasted, now it is time to mount the plants and cheer the next WOC.