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Hyde Park, Woodlawn, South Shore

Hyde Park Garden Fair Canceled Again This Year — So Support Your Local Plant Shop, Organizer Says

The fair was canceled for a second year. Organizers are planning a larger fall sale with cool-weather vegetables and fall perennials.

A past Hyde Park Garden Fair in the Hyde Park Shopping Center, 5450 S. Lake Park Ave.
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HYDE PARK — The annual Hyde Park Garden Fair is canceled for the second year in a row due to coronavirus concerns and difficulties acquiring plants for the fair.

The garden fair, held annually the Friday and Saturday after Mother’s Day, is expected to return in spring 2022. With up to 1,000 gardeners flocking to the Hyde Park Shopping Center every year, the fair resembles “a giant bouquet just sitting in the middle of Hyde Park,” organizer George Rumsey said.

A larger version of the fair committee’s Bulb and Mum Sale is tentatively planned for September, filling the gap left by the main fair’s cancellation.

Tulips, specialty bulbs, chrysanthemums and orchids are among the plants available at every fall sale, while this year’s edition may also include vegetables that can be grown in cool weather, peonies and other fall perennials.

The spring garden fair requires its organizing committee to order about 20,000 plants, which are all delivered on one day. But as the pandemic hampered its suppliers’ ability to grow, it also boosted demand from gardeners looking to pass their pandemic free time, Rumsey said.

With suppliers sold out, “it just isn’t feasible” to put together a virtual spring fair, Rumsey said. Even if suppliers were fully stocked, “Where would we put them? … We regretfully decided that the best thing to do was to cancel.”

The fair committee will continue its regular volunteer work in Nichols Park, 1355 E. 53rd St., and other gardens in and around Hyde Park. The next Nichols Park work day is set for Saturday.

Neighbors interested in volunteering can email Rumsey at gwrumsey@att.net.

The garden fair, founded in 1958, is also a fundraiser for the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference. The organization has held monthly community conversations through the pandemic on topics like the Dementia Friendly Hyde Park initiative, equitable transit and police accountability.

In lieu of the spring fair, gardeners should shop at locally owned and operated plant shops, Rumsey said.

He suggested Ace Landscaping and Garden Center, 2700 E. 95th St. in South Deering, and City Grange with locations on the North and South sides — but “everybody has their own favorite neighborhood plant supply,” he said.

“The big guys are going to be OK … . Find your local places and really support them,” Rumsey said.

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