Waikato Home & Garden Show marks 35th year

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One of the best-known events on the Waikato calendar reaches a milestone this week. Waikato Business News talks to Exhibition Director Rebecca Hannah

Thirty-five years is a remarkable achievement, how does that feel?
To be involved in an event with a history of over 35 years is an awe inspiring feeling. Knowing a lot of our exhibitors have been at the show for more than 15 -20 years and some for even 30 years (or more) shows that the Waikato Home & Garden Show is a proven success for all involved.

What is it about Hamilton and Waikato that has made the Home and Garden Show work so well here?
In terms of the organisation of the show the key factors that attribute to the success of the Waikato Home & Garden Show over the last 35 years have been attention to detail, great staff, excellent organisation and listening to exhibitors’ needs. The event has become something of a barometer, an indicator of both business and public mood.

What does it take to put together a show?
Organising an event is like a steamroller tearing down a track, it stops for nobody so you must be ready to jump at all times. The detailed planning and the 12-hour plus days put in by our dedicated staff are just some of the things that ensure the ongoing success of the Waikato Home & Garden Show.

We must be ready for all situations at all times because the show must go on. A lot of time is spent working closely with exhibitors to ensure they get the most out of the show. For many exhibitors this show represents a significant part of their annual marketing spend so I feel personally responsible for them achieving the best possible return on their investment.

To ensure longevity of the show we must be aware we are constantly pushing the boundaries to ensure the visitors have something different to look at each year and there is something new to entertain them.

What have been a couple of your highlights along the way?
One year we had a house suspended from the country’s biggest crane, we generated the story there was no space left in the show so we had to display the house in the air. This was a show stopper as visitors entered the show and there was a massive media frenzy.

Another year we adopted a Japanese theme to wow our show visitors. We designed and created expansive landscaped designs which were incorporated into mature cherry trees in full blossom along with a zen garden which had an authentic wooden footbridge over a lake. A huge amount of work for only four days, but it was truly amazing to see the reactions of visitors as they entered this stunning area which is usually an empty tarseal area.

 And what about the challenges? Were there times when you thought the show may not go on?
Of course with an event the size of the Waikato Home & Garden Show there are always challenges, especially as we get closer to the opening date. From a very young age I learnt the importance of not fretting over worries and stresses and to remember every negative has a positive. I have my father Graham to thank for all he taught me in business and in life “What the mind can see and believe it can achieve” was a very powerful mantra he lived by every day.

There’s a really nice father-daughter element to the show, after your father Graham started them: what was it like working with him and then continuing the work yourself?
Working with Dad over the years never felt like work – no matter how busy and stressed we were we always had fun and managed to have a laugh. Dad and I had a very special unique relationship both at work and at play. He was my mentor and best friend. We put in countless hours together creating and organising the Waikato Home & Garden Show year after year.

I am so very proud of what he achieved and I felt privileged to have learnt the ins and outs of the exhibition industry from him. Nationally and internationally, he was a recognised innovator and leader in the field and known throughout the country as the ‘King of Home Shows’.

From a young age, Dad instilled on me how important it is to know every aspect of your business. From a young age I’ve lived and breathed the Waikato Home & Garden Show, learning all aspects of it from Dad. It’s literally in my blood.

To be able to create an event from nothing and then share with others who have helped make it happen is a great feeling of accomplishment. It’s a total adrenalin rush.

I am fuelled with a huge amount of passion and drive to continue Dad’s legacy and I look forward to the next 35 years of Waikato Home & Garden Shows.

What trends have you seen come and go – or come and stick around – during your time?
A trend I’ve seen grow over recent years is outdoor living spaces. Every year there are more options available to create amazing landscape and entertainment options. People are now placing more importance on creating a quality outdoor living space to entertain and relax.

Small home living and small storage options are also becoming more and more popular, especially over the last few years as people start looking at ways to maximise their living spaces and create a minimalist look without disposing of all of their possessions.

Tiny Homes are also becoming more common. In fact, we’ve even built some on our popular Street of Homes feature at the show – 15 years ago large homes were being built at the Waikato Home & Garden Show, but now tiny homes are taking over.

Sustainable living options are no longer a trend and are now becoming mainstream. We are also seeing more eco-conscious landscaping and outdoor furnishings like living walls which are perfect to make a design statement and bring the outdoors inside.

  • The Waikato Home & Garden Show runs from October 3-6 at Claudelands Events Centre.
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