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Leesburg blooming: Flower and garden festival comes to town this weekend

Leesburg Flower and Garden organizers are ready for 30,000 visitors downtown this weekend. Times-Mirror File Photo
Every April in downtown Leesburg, beautifully miniaturized gardens, fountains and patios literally spring up overnight. The 24x16-foot spaces come courtesy of Loudoun County landscapers—all competing for the attention and votes of thousands of visitors attending the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival, which arrives this year on April 22 and 23.

“It’s just a broad spectrum of everything outdoors,” coordinator Barb Smith said. “There’s something for everybody.”

Besides the landscaping contest—festival attendees can tear the ballot from their programs and drop off their top pick for the People’s Choice Award at the central information gazebo—the festival features 150 vendors for all ages and interests. White and green tents line the downtown streets, turning Leesburg into a pedestrian-friendly gardener’s paradise. Avid plant-lovers and aspiring green thumbs alike can buy plants, outdoor furniture and gardening equipment that will give a unique flair to their yards.

This year marks Smith’s second time to coordinate the festival, a Leesburg tradition since 1990. In 2016, Smith oversaw a record-breaking turnout of 35,000 attendees, and she hopes that this year will be similar.

Many of the festival’s 128 outdoor product vendors come from the local area. Lovettsville-based Jumbo Bottom Barrel Works crafts outdoor furniture, bird baths and fountains from reclaimed wine barrels. Bainbridge Outdoor Design Build, a new vendor from Dulles, will display some of its landscape styles.

The festival draws dozens of out-of-state vendors as well. Representatives from as far as Missouri, Wisconsin and New Hampshire will be bringing their crafts. Sprinklers by Mick, a New York craftsman who designs unique, globe-shaped copper sprinklers, usually proves a popular exhibit. Deer Defeat repellant, also based in New York, will help keep your new garden creations intact with its rain-resistant formula.

Other vendors will be offering pottery, awnings, natural food items, lotions, candles and more. “That’s part of the fun of the show, to have that combination of local and out-of-area vendors,” Smith said.

New this year are two special gardening presentations by Barry Glick, founder of Sunshine Farm and Gardens. Glick keeps more than 10,000 species of plants in his collection and breeds high-quality plants for garden centers and nurseries. On Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m., he will give a talk about local woodland plants at the Ida Lee rec center. The next day at 11:45 a.m., he will perform a demonstration about plant propagation on the Loudoun County Courthouse grounds.

For those who may not be avid gardeners, the festival hosts 21 local restaurant vendors and the beer garden by the town parking garage offers samples from area breweries. Local musician Gary Smallwood and pop-rock band Sub Radio will be jamming on the main stage.

Kids can find their niche at the festival, too. Along the west end of Cornwall Street is the children’s area, where families can enjoy live animals, theatre and magic performances, as well as a craft area. Smith said that the painting area, where children can help paint large wooden animal and flower designs, has been popular in past years.

“It’s more than just the shopping. It’s a lot of great food, there’s great entertainment,” Smith said. “Hopefully people are excited to come again this year.”

The festival is hosted by the town’s Department of Parks and Recreation and has several sponsors, including presenting sponsor Loudoun Medical Group. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. To learn more, visit http://www.flowerandgarden.org.

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