Final Orchid Festival Details

This is your final notice and summary of important things to know regarding our 2019 Asheville Orchid Festival ‘An Orchid Expedition’. The festival is open to the general public on Saturday and Sunday, April 6-7 from 9am-5pm. The member preview party is solely for the members of the WNCOS, the vendors and exhibitors participating, and the members of the North Carolina Arboretum. A kind reminder that Saturday and Sunday is your time to bring out family, friends, etc. Admission is $5 for anyone attending Saturday or Sunday, unless they’re 12 or under, or are a current member of the WNCOS. My hope every year is that all WNCOS members will come out to the member preview party and celebrate all the hard work we’ve put in to make the festival a tremendous success. As a member of the WNCOS, this is your festival. It is one of the premier orchid events across the country and is to be celebrated, so please be proud, supportive and come out to enjoy the wonderful atmosphere. Additionally, this is your first crack at sales plants as our vendors will be selling from 4-7pm Friday evening at the member preview party. You can find all necessary information below, as well as downloadable copies of this page and all documents contained within at the bottom of this page.


We need your blooming orchids! We’ve been discussing this for months, and we don’t have an incredible exhibit if we don’t have your blooming orchids. Please come and bring your plants in for exhibition, this is your chance to go for a ribbon, a best of class award and an AOS award. We need plants to be clean, free of pests, & with their flower spikes properly staked so the flowers show off well. We also want you to make sure your plants are properly labeled, both whatever it is as well as having your name on the pot. Put your name on a piece of masking tape, use a sharpie, etc. The best place for this is the underside of the pot. Remember that we like to use natural looking plants, we don’t want or need your cool deco pots, giant butterfly or bumblebee clips or bird feathers that you like to dress your orchids up in. Bring them in clean, staked and with as little “stuff” attached to them.

Two options for bringing us your plants. First, Wednesday afternoon at the Arboretum. We have a very small crew working on the construction of our exhibit on Wednesday. You may bring them in and leave them on a table in the auditorium hallway. Please consider leaving them in a small box, container, plant shuttle tray, etc. You may want to place a piece of paper with your full name and a list of your plants as well. Your other opportunity is to bring them to the Arboretum Thursday morning. This is the time most members drop off their plants, and it’s the best time if you need some specific help or have questions. Thursday is absolutely the most chaotic day. If you’re volunteering somewhere, check in with the chair person for your particular job. There’s so much going on, especially for the festival chairman and our team of leaders. Please don’t use Thursday as a time to hang out and chit chat, it is just too distracting and we must remain focused on the tasks that must be completed in a timely fashion on Thursday. Thursday we are under a tremendous deadline, please be mindful of this.

The cul-de-sac in front of the Education Center is the best place to quickly, quickly park and drop plants off. If you’re there for more than 10-15 minutes, the campus police will fuss at you. We have a revolving cul-de-sac on Thursday, so basically the best thing you can do is get in and get out. If you’re volunteering and bringing us plants, you may pull up, drop off plants, and then park your vehicle in the main parking lot.

Registering Your Orchids

Click the buttons above for a downloadable copy of the Plant Registration Rules document which contains all the different classes of orchids that each plant in our exhibit will be entered in to, along with a copy of our Excel Registration spreadsheet document. This spreadsheet is the document you enter your name as exhibitor, the proper name for your orchid (Example; Phalaenopsis violacea, or Cattleya maxima) and list each of your orchids you are entering in to the exhibit. Please know if you are unsure what you’re doing here we can complete this for you either ahead of time via private email (Mike Mims or Grace Ide) or at the Arboretum on Thursday. Chances are you’re a player if you’re bringing in 5 or more orchids in which case we will strongly prefer to assist you in the days prior to the festival via private email. Questions, please contact us.

NC Arboretum Entry/Parking

Wednesday or Thursday, if you’re simply dropping off plants you can tell the gate guard that this is all you’re doing and immediately leaving. If you are a volunteer who has signed up with Mike, Graham, Cristie, etc. please be sure to review the following guidelines. #1, if you are a member of the NC Arboretum, you do not need one of our parking passes. Do NOT take one, please.  #2, if you’re a member of the American Orchid Society, and have a current/valid AOS membership card, you do not need a parking pass. #3, If you have signed up as a volunteer and are neither an AOS or NC Arboretum member, then your name will be on a VIP list kept in the gate house. Pull up to the gate house, kindly share with them that you’re a volunteer with the WNCOS Volunteer for the festival and that you're on this VIP list. Give them your name and they will confirm it on their list. You should then be given 2 things by the gate guard. You’ll receive a parking pass with a bar code label on it, along with a half sheet of green paper with parking instructions for the entirety of the festival dates. You are to leave the green sheet on your dash and the parking pass some place secure as you do NOT want to lose it.

You may park in the main parking lot on Thursday & Friday. However, ALL WNCOS members, exhibitors, vendors and volunteers MUST park in the Operations Center Parking Lot on Saturday and Sunday. The gate guard and campus police will direct you to this parking lot. Here you will find free, wonderful shuttle service to the front door of the Education Center. During the weekend, it is imperative that we leave the main parking lot of paying patrons who are coming to enjoy the festival and support us. Please respect the policy and play along nicely. No need to tip the shuttle driver, but a kind thank you goes a long way.

Helpful Tips & Things We Need

Friday, April 5th is the most incredible orchid educational opportunity of the year for WNCOS members! Show up to the Education Center by 8:30/8:45 and be ready for some fun learning. We begin promptly at 9:00 am with the judging process. Be placed on a team of orchid judges and assist them in the ribbon judging process as they comb through the exhibits carefully for the first time. You’re here to help and to learn, and I promise you it is a real treat. After ribbon judging we serve our AOS judges and vendors a wonderful catered lunch upstairs in the library. Immediately following this lunch we begin AOS judging. If you’ve never sat in and observed this process, you’ve got to be here to check it out. Please be quiet, respectful and leave the judges alone as they’re judging all of the plants which are dressed in purple ribbons, which is their nomination for AOS Award consideration. These plants get pulled from the exhibits and taken upstairs for this process. Talk about fun and educational, this is exciting for us growers! The library does get packed, and it gets hot and hectic. By 4pm we’re busy taking down all the plants that were awarded or not and placing them back in their exhibits all while the preview party is kicking off.  It is definitely madness and mayhem!

Starting on Thursday, the snack/break room for WNCOS members, all vendors and exhibitors begins to come together. We need good food y’all, and anything but alcohol goes. Snack food, quality food, fresh fruit, protein, etc. is all welcome and encouraged. We will have some items available and have the drinks covered. But, we never have enough of your generous homemade cookies, treats, sandwiches. Maybe you’ve got a killer homemade hummus dip, a quiche, some sliders, a fruit salad or even a bag of chips. We truly benefit in a major way from having a fully stocked break room and we are famous in the orchid community for having exceptional hospitality at our annual festival. We have electricity in the break room, so even a crock pot of a warm dip or chili is even welcome. We have beverages, coffee, etc. already handled. As I am anticipating a record crowd this year it is my hope that we’ll have hungry guests and volunteers, and an incredibly strong break room for everyone to enjoy. Thank you in advance for all your contributions!

Sunday afternoon break down. 5pm the festival is over. If you’ve signed up to volunteer and assist with this, thank you. It is a lot of work and by this time we are all exhausted. If you’ve contributed orchids for our exhibit, be sure to come back for them or make arrangements for someone to take them home for you. Every year it seems like we end up with a couple orphan orchids and don’t know who they belong to.

Pre-Ordering From Our Vendors

Most of us overlook the unique opportunity to pre-order plants from our vendors. It’s too late to pre-order from Ecuagenera, as they’re flying in their plants from Ecuador. However, you’ve still got time if you act now, to pre-order from most of our vendors here in the USA. Check out the “Festival” tab on our website, www.wncos.org to find our list of vendors and their contact information. WNCOS long time friend Jason Fischer of Orchids Limited has an offer for anyone attending the festival this year. See below a bit of info directly from Jason…

“Pre-orders are welcome and will also receive a 10% discount. Please place your orders by April 2nd. When checking out online, please use the promo code 'Asheville', which will automatically delete shipping charges and give you 10% off. Please note, if you are pre-ordering for the show and are not a resident in North Carolina, the web will not remove the shipping rates. Place the order anyways and once we see the promo code, we will delete the shipping charges before we process your order so you will not have to pay for shipping. Please note that I usually bring Phragmipedium, Paphiopedilum, Cattleya, Stanhopea, and Neofinetia. There will be other misc genera with both species and hybrids, but if you're interested in plants other than these, I encourage you to pre-order. Thanks, Jason Fischer”