The Maine Flower Show included many display gardens, like the edge of the tulip, daffodil and hyacinth bed here. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer, file

Organizers of the Maine Flower Show say the popular event that gave winter-weary Mainers an early taste of spring will probably never return.

“It is with great sadness that the Maine Landscape and Nursery Association (MELNA) announces the end of the Maine Flower Show. There are no plans to have any more flower shows in the future,” MELNA said in a news release. “MELNA hopes the roughly 60,000 visitors to our March shows over the past few years had a great experience and found some inspiration for their gardens throughout Maine.”

Executive Director Donald Sproul said in an interview Tuesday night that substantial financial losses sustained after the pandemic forced MELNA to cancel the 2020 Maine Flower Show, combined with no assurance of a suitable venue for future shows, convinced association members to end the annual event that was always held over a weekend near the end of March.

Sproul said organizers were just seven days from setting up garden displays at the Thompson’s Point venue in March 2020 when Gov. Janet Mills shut down public gatherings because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sproul said the cancellation forced MELNA to repay $130,000 to vendors, sponsors and ticket holders. The financial hit was so great that MELNA was forced to take out a $50,000 loan from the Small Business Administration to cover the refunds, Sproul said.

In 2022, MELNA held a much smaller flower show at Thompson’s Point called the Maine Garden and Marketplace. It was held in the Brick South building without the connecting tents that in the past provided extra space for display gardens, and was geared toward consumers and gardening products.


Sproul said MELNA was unable to find a venue in 2023. The Thompson’s Point venue was booked by another party.

“We weren’t able to rebound from the shutdown in 2020,” added Lee Skillin of Skillins Greenhouses. Skillin is president of MELNA’s Executive Committee.

Skillin said that committee members and others concluded that there were too many financial uncertainties around hosting another flower show, especially one with a large crowd, given that COVID is still circulating.

“It (COVID) is certainly something people are still worried about and we just couldn’t risk it,” Skillin said Tuesday.

The decision to shut down the flower show spells the end of a spring tradition that began on Portland’s waterfront years ago. In March 2013, the Portland Flower Show, then located in the Portland Company Complex at 58 Fore St., opened for its 16th consecutive year. The complex was owned by Phineas Sprague.

Sproul said the last Portland Flower Show at the complex was held in 2015. In 2016, MELNA announced it was planning to stage a similar event, called the Maine Flower Show, at Thompson’s Point on outer Congress Street. The inaugural show was held in March 2017.

The Maine Flower Show continued in 2018 and in 2019 before the pandemic shut down the state and country.

Sproul would not entirely rule out the possibility of a flower show return, but said the public should not get its hopes up.

“I wouldn’t say it would be impossible, but we’re not looking to restart it,” Sproul said. “If the circumstances were right, you never say never.”

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