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Orchids! Orchids! Orchids! The Super Bowl of orchids is bringing fans to Santa Barbara

The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show features orchids from around the world.
The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show features orchids from around the world.

The 76th annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show is taking place March 8-10 at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

They are beautiful flowers found almost everywhere in the world, except on glaciers. In fact, there are about 28,000 species of orchids. This weekend, orchid fans are flocking to Santa Barbara for one of the nation's biggest orchid events.

Two judges are walking through a sea of orchids at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, marking down comments about the plants on clipboards. There are tens of thousands of orchids here. It's the 76th annual Santa Barbara International Orchid Show.

Heidi Kirkpatrick is the show’s Plant Registrar. She said it’s an interesting year for the show, with the cold weather, and rain impacting the types of orchids we’re seeing this year.

"We have some of them from as far away as Japan, and then some from down the road in Carpinteria." said Kirkpatrick. "Then, when you see all the things you are familiar with, you get to see all of the unusual things, the weird things."

The show started as a celebration of the region’s orchid industry. It’s become one of the oldest, and most prestigious orchid shows in the nation.

Orchid Show judge Arthur Pinkers talks about what makes a good orchid. "What we look for is the form of the orchid, the flower, the way it looks, the fullness, the roundness," said Pinkers. He said they look at things like the colors, and and characteristics like the number of blooms.

In addition to looking at the orchids, Kirkpatrick said you can actually take one home. "We have a vendors area, and they brought things from around the world."

But, what happens when you get that orchid home?

Arthur Pinkers said the key is not overdoing orchid care. He said many people love them to death, with overwatering a common problem.

"They don't need to have sopping wet media," said Pinkers. "They need to dry out around their roots. If you think you want to water it today, wait two more days."

The Santa Barbara International Orchid Show opened Friday, and runs through Sunday at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. It’s open from 9-5 daily. This year, the show is adding a new “Orchids After Dark” event, with a DJ, mood lighting, and a bar. That’s from 6-9 Saturday night.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.