I decided to go to the 33rd Annual Connecticut Flower and Garden Show at the Connecticut Convention Center for two reasons. One is that this winter has been so relentlessly winter-like that I was desperate for anything resembling spring, and I hoped flowers might fit that bill. The other is that I'd never been to an event at the Convention Center, and seeing as its presence downtown brings hundreds of thousands of visitors into Hartford every year, that seemed a major oversight.
As it turned out, the trip was probably the most touristy thing I could do without leaving my own city. In the space of a few hours I navigated a parking garage that might be bigger than several Connecticut towns. I traipsed for probably miles through a massive venue crowded with people of all ages, from all walks of life (well, all the walks of life that allow a person $16 to look at garden supplies.) My eyes glazed over at the variety of items on display, ranging from pretty to tacky to quirky to entirely questionable in their lack of relation to the supposed theme of the show. (Mattresses? At a flower show? Why, sure!) I ended up tired, eating sour peach rings from a plastic bag, having purchased a magnet that had nothing to do with why I came, and feeling pretty good about Harford's future.
It's easy, at least for me, to dismiss assets like convention centers sometimes. They're bland and corporate, they're pretty much the same everywhere, and on the surface they don't add anything unique or noteworthy to a city. But as I wandered up and down the aisles of the Flower Show, dodging a surprising number of people holding bouquets of pussy willows, it occurred to me that places need a bit of all-American tourist trap sometimes. Facilities and shows like this, and the crowds and money they bring in, can only add confidence to a city often perceived to be lacking in it. Plus, I now know there's a place where you can buy a tractor and some handmade goat milk soap at the same time.
The Flower and Garden Show runs for one more day. Sunday hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information, visit the Convention Center's website.