The coronavirus outbreak’s sweeping toll on Snohomish County businesses has extended to one of the city’s most important events: the Everett Home & Garden Show.
The show, which was expected to attract about 300 exhibitors and more than 16,000 visitors during its March 13-15 run at Angel of the Winds Arena, has been canceled.
Event producer Jim Ashe canceled the show March 6, five days before Gov. Jay Inslee banned events with 250 or more attendees. By then, about 30 exhibitors already had dropped out.
Ashe said he followed the Snohomish Health District’s recommendations on dealing with the fast-spreading virus, which included canceling events with more than 50 attendees. As of Thursday afternoon, COVID-19 had sickened hundreds and killed at least 30 in Washington. Three Snohomish County residents have died.
“When you’re talking one-on-one about remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, or about putting on a new roof, you’re in close proximity,” Ashe said. “Staying home or at least staying away from crowds may be the best thing to do at this point.”
In 31 years, Ashe said, he’s never had to reschedule a show. He said it was not an easy decision.
“We had a lot of disappointed people who really wanted to do the show because it’s such a prime area, but they all understood why we did it and they were all very grateful for that,” Ashe said. “They also told me they’ll come back next year.”
One exhibitor to cancel before Inslee’s ban was NW Quality Remodel and Deck in Snohomish.
“I just didn’t want to put our customers and staff at risk,” said Robert King, NW Quality Remodel and Deck CEO. “It’s in the best interest of the public to limit exposure.”
King said the company managed to land about 30 customers at last year’s show. He said it helps that they have the technology to take a customer’s idea and turn it into a 2D model for them right there.
“It’s really unfortunate that this has happened,” he said. “That we’re all exposed to it, and the risk involved, and the fact that they don’t really know a whole lot about it yet.”
Snohomish County Master Gardeners Foundation had five master gardeners scheduled to speak at the show, in addition to keynote speaker Trevor Cameron of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.
“We were actually a little relieved, I won’t lie about it,” master gardener Sheila McKinnon said. “It’s not something that we were looking forward to canceling. We had to do the best we could to support (Ashe) if the show must go on, but we were quite relived that he decided to pull the plug. Under the circumstances, I do think that that was the right thing to do.”
McKinnon questions if 250 attendees is the right number. She said WSU Extension, under which Snohomish County Master Gardeners operates, has prohibited the group from holding meetings with more than 15 members. They’re instead encouraged to use Zoom, video conference software that allows up to 300 to dial in to a meeting.
She said the foundation sees Zoom as a way to reschedule the last three speakers in its “Sustainable Gardening Winter Speaker Series.” The lectures to be rescheduled are Marilyn Glenn’s on “How to Select, Grow and Prune Clematis, the Queen of the Vines,” Dan Hinkley’s talk on “Forgotten Elements of Good Design,” and Jairul Rahaman’s on “Plants and Fungi: A Match Made in Heaven.” Call 425-357-6010 or go to www.snomgf.org/winter-speaker-series.html for more.
“This week we’re actually learning to use the platform,” she said. “Before we have 300 people dialing in, it would be nice to know how to make it work.”
Deb Varner, who operates Granite Transformations in Mukilteo with her husband, said they’ve had a booth at the show for the past 16 years, and get about 10% of their business from it.
Varner called the lost business “somewhat worrisome,” but said she understands that health and safety must come first.
“COVID-19 is potentially very dangerous, especially to the elderly and compromised populations, so we will defer to the public health experts on what the right thing to do is,” she said.
She said Granite Transformations is looking into alternative marketing and ways to expand its online presence. For example, it’s offering in-home and Face Time consultations. It’s also sanitizing granite samples.
“I’m very concerned,” Varner said. “This is a tenuous time for all small businesses.”
Another exhibitor to cancel before Inslee’s ban was Snohomish County PUD.
“Whatever we’re doing, we’re mindful of the challenges posed by this virus and of the anxiety that it generates as well,” said Cayle Thompson, a Snohomish County PUD spokesman.
The Everett Home & Garden Show isn’t the only event the PUD might miss. Next month it’s partnering with the city of Everett to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Thompson said that event may also need to be canceled.
The outbreak has forced the cancelation of home and garden-related events in Island and Skagit counties.
The Whidbey Gardening Workshop, which had been scheduled for March 13 and 14 at Oak Harbor High School, has been called off. More than 45 classes and four field trips had been planned. Go to www.whidbeygardening.org to learn more.
The Skagit/Island Counties Builders Association’ Home & Garden Show, slated for March 27-29 at the Skagit County Fairgrounds in Mount Vernon, also is canceled. Go to www.sicba.org for more information.
If you go
Mark your calendars: Next year’s Everett Home & Garden Show will be noon to 6 p.m. March 12, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 13 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 14 at the Angel of the Winds Arena, 2000 Hewitt Ave., Everett. Go to www.everetthomegardenshow.com for more information.