The first Santa Barbara Orchid Show, organized by the Santa Barbara Horticultural Society under the direction of Bert Kallman, took place in 1945 at the Montecito Grange Hall. As orchid growing in the Santa Barbara area by both commercial growers and hobbyists continued to expand, the premier show was welcomed as an ideal showcase for the area’s top orchids.
The next year, more than $200,000 worth of orchids vied for top honors at the show, which was staged as a “Garden of Eden” at the Carrillo Recreation Center in downtown Santa Barbara.
In 1947, the show moved to the State Armory on Santa Barbara’s Eastside. During the early and formative years of the event, local cymbidium grower Eliot Rogers managed the Santa Barbara Orchid Show. He had strong connections within the local orchid
community, as well as orchid establishments in England, and was able to obtain prized cymbidiums from the U.K. in both pre- and post-WWII times. Known to be a keen judge of cymbidiums, he possessed one of the finest cut-flower collections of his day.
The show moved to its present location, Earl Warren Showgrounds, when the rotunda building opened in the early 1960s. Throughout the years, the rotunda and exhibitor hall have played host to some of the finest orchids in the world
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