Fabulous design programs, Fantastic business sessions, Fun social events… just a few words to describe what the 464 attendees experienced at this year’s Great Lakes Floral Association 100th anniversary celebration.

The record number of attendees met in March at the 2020 Great Lakes Floral and Event Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to learn, party, and network with fellow floral industry members from all over the Midwest and Canada.

As usual, one of the highlights of the meeting was the Designer of the Year contest. This year’s winner was Jennifer Butcher CFD, What’s Blooming, Peru, Indiana, who won $300 and will have her designs featured in The Professional Florist magazine.

Garrett Skupinski CF, Floral Today, St. Louis, Missouri, took the top prize in the Academy division. He will receive $300, the winner’s plaque and his name inscribed on the traveling honorary award. His designs will also be featured in The Professional Florist magazine.

Industry awards, announced at the outstanding Roaring Twenties closing banquet, went to Dr. Barbara Fails-Raftshol CF, Michigan State University (retired) who was given the Lifetime Achievement award for her many years of service to the floral industry and Kelly Mace, Smithers Oasis, Kent, Ohio, who was honored with the National Service award.

Other honorees were:
Geniene Hourigan-Culp, New Floral Design, Grand Rapids, Retail Employee of the Year.
Margaret’s Garden, Grand Hotel, Mackinaw Island Michigan, Retailer of the Year.
Al Gerkin, Kennicott Mid-Michigan, Saginaw, Michigan, Wholesale Employee of the Year.
Flower Shop Network, Paragould, Arkansas, Supplier of the Year.
Molly Tiesma, Eastern Floral, Grand Rapids, Young Person of the Year.
Marsha Gray, Christmas Tree Promotion Board, Howell, Michigan, Special Recognition.
Suzie Kostick AIFD, CF, PFCI, Smithers Oasis, Special Recognition.
Cindy Ching AIFD, CF, GLFA, Haslett, Michigan, Special Recognition.

People’s Choice winner was Kate Holten CF, Kennedy’s Flowers, Grand Rapids, while Angela Christie CF, Boyne Ave. Greenhouse and Florist, Boyne City, Michigan, received the Chuck Bannow award. Derek Woodruff AAF, AIFD, CF, PFCI, Floral Underground, Traverse City, Michigan, was the CF Person of the Year. and Lisa VanderMeer CF, Ludema’s Floral and Garden, Grand Rapids, received the GLFA Past Presidents Award sponsored by Bloomnet/Floriology.

There was something for everybody in the many design sessions, business sessions and hands-on workshops. The main stage design shows featured a series of top designers covering topics from bridal to sympathy to wearable floral fashion. Business sessions taught attendees about profit, technology, and staffing. Hands-on workshops were packed with how to ideas and the latest products from trade fair vendors who showed their many products and services during the three-day expo.

A special feature of this year’s GLFEE was the Fabulous Floral Field Trip Tour. The tour visited five stops, highlighting various segments of the floral industry. Eastern Floral and Kennedy’s Flowers and Gifts represented the retail segment, while Christian’s Greenhouse showed specialty houseplants. On the event side, visitors saw Special Occasions West’s specialty linens and rentals and Events Theory Grand Rapids a design, decor and production company.

The 2021 Great Lakes Floral and Event Expo will be held March 5-7 at the Amway Grand Plaza and Devos Place, Grand Rapids, Michigan, www.glfee.com.