Being new to town, I was surprised to learn that there will be three area home shows this spring. The first, the Kansas City Remodeling Show and Metropolitan Lawn & Garden Show at the American Royal Complex, took place last week and is actually two rather large shows in one, so you could say there are four shows.
By CYNTHIA BILLHARTZ GREGORIAN
The Kansas City Star
The others are the Johnson County Home & Garden Show Feb. 28-March 2 at the Overland Park Convention Center; and the Kansas City Home Show March 28-30 at Bartle Hall.
How can one market support three home shows in one season? Perhaps it cant.
Terry Rynard, deputy director of the Kansas City Parks and Recreation Department, says her staff will evaluate whether to continue the Kansas City Home Show at Bartle Hall after this year, when its contract with the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City expires.
Paid attendance has plummeted from about 25,000 in the early 2000s to 5,569 last year.
Meanwhile, Pat Riha, producer of the other two shows, estimates that last weeks event drew more than 500 exhibitors and 25,000 attendees.
KC Star videographer Monty Davis and I were among them. Here are some products that grabbed our attention.
Eco-friendly countertops and panels
A kiosk constructed of glowing translucent panels with chunks of embedded glass and a matching countertop stopped us in our tracks. They were sparkly and colorful.
Local recycling center Ripple Glass created the glass-encrusted surface, which counts toward LEED certification. Mike Patterson, director of surface material at Ripple Glass, says its available in countertop form through Surface Center of Shawnee and costs $60 to $110 a square foot. Theyll do a larger rollout of more products later this year.
Charles Werr of Surface Center, who was manning the booth that day, said the cobalt blue and pale aqua chunks of glass lying on a nearby table made him think of Skyy vodka and Bombay Sapphire gin. After all, those were their past lives.
The surfaces are similar to countertops created by Vetrazzo and Ice Stone. But those companies products are opaque because theyre embedded in concrete. The glass pieces in Ripple Glass countertops and panels are bonded together with resin, allowing light to flow through.
Its also easier to clean and is bacteria-resistant, Werr said.
Heather Potter of Webster Enterprises looked like a vendor in a foreign street market, as she stood behind tables full of small, colorful ceramic dishes.
Theyre graters. They take the place of this, Potter said, holding up a metal box grater. She then demonstrated how to grate garlic, cheese, chocolate and nutmeg effortlessly, safely and neatly by rubbing them on the plates.
The Gourmet Graters, as theyre called, are handmade in Spain using a fork to score small sharp grooves in a circular pattern. Potter was selling them for $25 a set, which included the plate, a rubber tube that peels garlic, a brush and a plate stand. Webster Enterprises doesnt sell them online, but several other vendors do some for as little as $10 each, not including shipping. Just type gourmet grater in a search engine.
Amish furniture and storm shelters
Oak Ridge Furniture of Jamesport was on hand with several pieces of gorgeous handcrafted furniture. Highlights from the Amish retailer included its Westin armchair stately, sturdy and elegant and its steam-bent rocking chair, which looks like a piece of art.
Family Safe Certified In-Home storm shelters had set up three prefabricated steel units that purportedly withstand high-force winds and protect against flying debris in EF-5 tornadoes. A video showed large pieces of wood hurling against one of the units and bouncing off, inside a testing facility.
The Water Garden Society of Kansas City had erected a huge music-themed display that featured back-to-back upright pianos with sheets of water arcing from their front panels across their keyboards into a pond below. Smaller fountains, created from brass horns, surrounded them.
One of the societys members noted that they got both pianos for free from Craigslist, and that one of them dates to about 1908.
The group wanted to show that you dont have to buy expensive fountains but instead can create unique water features with repurposed materials.
The Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City had a similar eco-friendly approach to growing plants. Potted flowers sprouted from purses and childrens rain boots that were hung from a white picket fence, while a nearby vintage Radio Flyer wagon held a succulent garden.
Happy Ever After, a First Friday vendor at Hello Sailor in the West Bottoms, was selling succulents growing from every type of small container imaginable: tea cups, sangria glasses, Pyrex beakers, oil cans, vintage wineglasses, votives, even old glass Bunn coffee pots.
Christy Allen, a representative with Juice Plus, was showing off her companys latest product: a vertical aeroponic micro farm system called the Tower Garden. Its a chest-high tower with small pockets for growing seedlings. The roots poke through to a hollow interior where water pumped up from a basin below mixes with a special plant food and mists the roots.
According to Allen, herbs and vegetables grow two to three times faster in the Garden Tower than in soil. As proof, Allen had pictures of her own tower sitting on her porch last summer, lush with plant life. The system costs about $500, Allen said.
Its great for people who dont want to dig and get dirty, she said. And its like having a farmers market in your backyard.