What is the surest sign that spring is coming? It's not the mobs of people lined up for a pre-Florida tan. And it's not the sadness at watching your favorite team choke itself out of the NCAA basketball tournament, though both these yearly rituals are good indicators.
Clearly the brightest sign that spring is near is the annual Fort Wayne Home & Garden Show which runs from Thursday through Sunday, March 2-5 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
Now in its 44th year, the Home & Garden Show gives area residents the perfect opportunity to jumpstart indoor and outdoor improvement projects. With more than 650 exhibitors showcasing ways to update homes and add zest to landscapes, the 2017 Home & Garden Show is the place to be.
Show organizer Karen Tejera said this year's show will be the biggest yet, with new and returning presenters, lots of food and fun for families.
"It is bigger than ever, said Tejera, who is in her 25th year with the show. "I have expanded it. I'm bringing in new presenters this year: home renovation stars Two Chicks and a Hammer; Dr. Lori, an antiques expert, who is very funny; and Mad Dog & Merrill, who have finally hit the big time with a cable show in the works and products for sale in stores. Plus lots of flowers. That's my favorite part of the show. Flowers give me the sense that spring is almost here."
As the stars of HGTV's Good Bones (formerly called Two Chicks & a Hammer) Indianapolis natives Karen Laine and Mina Starsiak make their first appearance at the home show. The mother-daughter duo climbed the ladder of DIY shows quickly after starting from scratch.
They began rehabbing homes near their neighborhood in downtown Indianapolis in 2007. With no prior experience, they learned how to tackle the demanding work by watching videos online. With their mission of revitalizing Indianapolis "One Home at a Time," the pair (Karen is the mom, Mina is the daughter) quickly figured out they had a knack for remodeling work.
In 2015, HGTV took them on, and Two Chicks and a Hammer premiered. The cable giant has since changed the name to Good Bones, but the idea is the same. Now they have an agent in New York and are running around the country giving demonstrations and delivering confidence to thousands of other people who dream of fixing up older houses and in cool, old neighborhoods, one home at a time.
Two Chicks and a Hammer will present on Friday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and again on Saturday at 12 noon and 4 p.m.
For fans of antiques appraisal shows, the name Dr. Lori will be a familiar one. Not only is she making her third appearance at the home show, she is a regular on national talk shows and is the star antiques appraiser on the History channel's The Curse of Oak Island and Discovery channel's Auction Kings. She also appears on FOX Business Network's Strange Inheritance.
Dr. Lori Verderame holds a Ph.D. in art history with a strong concentration on humor. She has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and NBC TV's The Tonight Show, and she knows how to put a funny spin on appraising the often strange items people haul out of their attics.
Dr. Lori will be on hand to offer one free antique appraisal per person, per show time. Show times for Dr. Lori are Thursday and Friday at 12 noon and 7 p.m.; Saturday at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.; and Sunday at 12 noon and 3 p.m.
Perennial favorites in the grilling department, Mad Dog & Merrill will once again show even the worst cooks how to create delicacies using flames.
Their TV show Midwest Grill'n was recently picked up for nationwide distribution by Tuff TV. It even airs in Canada. Additionally, their line of signature grilling sauces is available at fine markets everywhere.
Mad Dog & Merrill will get mouths watering with their grilling demonstrations at 12 noon and 2 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday; and 12 noon and 2 p.m. Sunday.
While the presenters by themselves are well worth the affordable price of admission, there is so much more to see and do at the event. From handmade arts and crafts to face painting to small animals, the Home & Garden Show has it all.
"This year's Family Fun Area salutes the circus," Tejera said. "There [are] a small animal petting zoo, martial arts and dance demos, adoptable animals, circus character photos, and additional interactive exhibits fun for all ages."
Then there are the exhibits. Want to learn how to turn your jungle-like backyard into a showcase worthy of any summer gathering? This is the place. More than 20 Master Gardeners from the Tri-State area will be on hand to divulge secrets and offer ideas.
Interested in learning about new roofing options? Look no further. Nine roofing experts will be more than happy to explain the benefits and costs of a wide variety of roofing materials.
Pick an area - heating, cooling and ventilation, plumbing, pools and spas, window coverings, lighting, fireplaces and wood burners, gutters, flowers, shrubs, lawn care - nearly anything you can imagine.
Nearly everything but how to design a relevant home and garden show. But Tejera's got that covered.
"It's challenging to present something new to the public every year," she said. "Staying informed through cable television and on social media helps. There are all kinds of specialized companies out there that can help with one particular area of renovating."
One item Tejera is excited to check out is an outdoor entertainment center with a slot for a television to disappear into and pop out of. But there are many others as well.
The show is expected to draw more than 45,000 people this year, Tejera said.
"There's not a better place to show off your ideas and pick up new ones," she said.