More than 300 people attended the Beechmont Festival of Flowers to purchase flowers, bedding plants, herbs and yard art. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

More than 300 people attended the 37th Beechmont Festival of Flowers on Saturday, May 12. In addition to flowers, bedding plants and herbs, the annual benefit for the Beechmont Neighborhood Association featured a paint-a-flower-pot booth, yard art, music and food vendors.

BNA board member Nancy Bowman-Denton said the event has become a major part of the south Louisville neighborhood’s identity.

“The festival is one of the few opportunities people have to come together face to face with their neighbors. We have a lot of local vendors this year, too. The festival really showcases the pride and talent we have in this community,” she said.

The Festival of Flowers usually takes place near Mother’s Day in the Beechmont Gazebo Park at Woodlawn Avenue and Southern Parkway, next the L&N Credit Union. No one seems to know how the festival got started, but Laura Hosbach has organized it for last 27 years.

Laura Hosbach has helped organize the Festival of Flowers for 27 years. | Photo by Michael L. Jones

Hosbach said the event, which takes place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., already was a cherished tradition when she when she took over nearly three decades ago.

“I joined the neighborhood association as soon as I moved to Beechmont. Before I knew what was happening, the other members nominated me to the board of directors and told me I was in charge of the Festival of Flowers,” she explained. “I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. That first year, I just had a picnic table with some flowers for sale. People were disappointed because they were used to it being more elaborate.”

The 2018 Festival of Flowers included 40 booths, the most so far. Hosbach said the neighborhood association is wary about letting the festival get too large. It is afraid residents might not feel the same sense of ownership of the festival if it attracted too many people outside the community.

This is the second year Beechmont resident Ned Steinke, who lives on Woodlawn Avenue, has been a vendor at the festival with his business Sculpture by Jay in Kentucky. Steinke and his wife, Kim, sell whimsical original sculptures made by Ohio artist Jay Risner.

The elaborate yard art is sculpted in clay cast in concrete using Portland cement and cement color. The Steinkes started off as collectors of Risner’s work but began selling it in 2014 because the artist does not like to do shows outside of his home state.

Beechmont resident Ned Steinke in his booth | Photo by Michael L. Jones

“The Festival of Flowers had tried to get us to come for years, but we were always traveling,” Steinke said. “We made time last year, and now the festival is going to be a regular part of our schedule. Not only is it the perfect audience for what we do, but it is literally half a block from our house. You can’t beat that.”

Mark Martin grew up near the Beechmont neighborhood, but he now lives in Pleasure Ridge Park. He doesn’t remember ever attending the festival as a child, but he and his wife, Kimberly, have become regulars over the last few years.

Martin regrets not finding out about the Festival of Flowers sooner.

“This is just a nice way to spend a beautiful day,” he said. “My wife and I always keep an eye out for when it’s coming up. We like seeing the flowers and enjoying the entertainment. It’s gotten bigger over the years, but it still feels a community event.”

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Michael L. Jones
Michael L. Jones, a freelance journalist and author, covers communities for Insider Louisville. His latest book "Louisville Jug Music: From Earl McDonald to the National Jubilee" (History Press) received the 2014 Samuel Thomas Book Award from the Louisville Historical League. In addition to his contributions to Insider, his writing appears regularly in LEO Weekly, Louisville Magazine, Food & Dining – Louisville Edition, and Who’s Who Louisville: African American Profiles. He also sits on the board of directors of the National Jug Band Jubilee. Jones and his wife, Melissa Amos-Jones, a physical therapist, live in the Kenwood Hills neighborhood near Iroquois Park.