Patches of blackened snow outside created a stark contrast against the Blair County Home and Garden Show's decor at the Jaffa Shrine Center, featuring two landscaping installations by Burchfield & Son Landscaping Inc. greeting showgoers inside the main doors.
One featured a garden and waterfall, the other a concrete patio with fire pit.
Jimmy Burchfield said the idea behind the displays was to get people to "think spring" as they headed into the show.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
Alex Plowman, 3, of Gallitzin receives some basic carpentry instruction at a Home Depot display for kids at the Blair County Home and Garden Show on Friday. Please see stories on pages A6 and D1.
A worker at Comfort One Heating and Cooling said although business peaks in summer, people are thinking ahead to warmer months and the show is a way to jump-start sales.
Contractor Dennis L. Olewine said his business is year-round, but bad weather makes it inconvenient.
"People are still upgrading and making necessary changes to their homes," he said of the winter months, mainly in their kitchens and bathrooms.
Those two areas add significantly to a home's resale value, but Olewine said people aren't looking to flip their houses for profit; rather, they want newer appliances and a look to match.
While snow doesn't stop him, he said, working is easier when homeowners can open windows and clear the air when moving appliances or installing new cabinets.
Mixed in with contractors, landscapers and vinyl businesses bending potential customers' ears is American Family Chiropractic's Dr. Bryan Tilghman.
Tilghman said he always checks to see who is in the booths around him, because no matter what people are doing with their homes, "there's always something that causes an injury."
He pointed to seasonal dangers like snow shoveling but said people hunched over tending to their gardens also can leave some with pains that need a chiropractor's touch - not to mention injuries associated with the beginning of schools' spring sports season.
Stacy Hoover, events and technology vice president for the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, said she expects the show will draw close to 6,000 visitors during the weekend.
"This is the longest-running home show in central Pennsylvania," she said, and some exhibitors "have been here since the first show."
Linda Stotler, the chamber's communication and marketing vice president, said the best part about the show is the diversity of vendors and attendees.
Vendors come from across the state, she said, and people of all ages can find something to do at the show - especially with crafts and a treasure hunt geared toward younger audiences.
Hoover said some vendors receive so much business from the three-day show that it keeps them going for the rest of the year.
One business sector sees its biggest boost between March and April: home and commercial cleaners.
Ralph Cornelius of Corny's Cleaning Service Inc. said the urge to tackle spring cleaning will keep his phones ringing for the next two months.
He said people want to clean the salt and dirt from winter out of their carpets and lives.
"[They] are looking for professional cleaning services," he said. He said he is glad he made a last-minute decision to set up a booth.