Schedule of Events


Welcome Schedule of Events Registration Hotel & Airport Info Symposium Sponsors

Thursday, September 27
 11:30 AM -   4 PM            
Ashland, The Henry Clay Estate & Lexington Cemetery Tour (Special Registration Required) 
Whether you’re a plant geek or a history buff, this tour is for you. We’ll start by visiting Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate. Known as “The Great Compromiser,” Clay was known for his skills of negotiation which helped hold the country together in the first half of the 19th century. His home, Ashland, is a jewel in the heart of Lexington. On this tour, you will experience the estate that Henry Clay called his “Promised Land” by touring the 18-room mansion filled with family artifacts and the expansive 17 acres of grounds. Ashland boasts over 400 trees, some dating back hundreds of years. Your tour of Ashland won’t be complete until you stroll through the estate’s six parterre English formal gardens, maintained by the Garden Club of Lexington. After touring the mansion and grounds at Ashland, we’ll head to the Lexington Cemetery. This is your chance to see why in 2017 Lexington won the AIB award for most beautiful cemetery. The Lexington Cemetery, a private, non-profit 170-acre cemetery and arboretum, was established in the mid-1800s as a place of beauty and a public cemetery, in part to deal with burials from the cholera epidemic in the area at that time. The Lexington Cemetery has more than 180 different types of trees and shrubs. The tour will showcase floral gardens as well as old growth trees and ornamental trees and conifers. Within the cemetery are three places that are listed separately on the National Register of Historic Places. This tour requires extensive walking. The cost is $59. Seating is limited to 50 people so register early. See the registration form for details.

 1 - 4 PM
Gainesway Farm & Arboretum / McConnell Springs Nature Center Tour (Special Registration Required) - SOLD OUT
Gainesway has a long history dating back to the late 1700s. Fast forward 200 years to when John Gaines, who conceived the idea of the Breeders’ Cup, brought his Gainesway operation to the farm. As a premier thoroughbred horse breeding facility, it was designed an arboretum by the American Public Garden Association, which credited Gainesway as one of the most bio-diverse horse farms in the world. During this tour of the historic property, we will see some of the more than 1,500 acres of decorative plants, floral displays, and tree collections. Then it’s on to McConnell Springs Nature Park, the historic site where Lexington was first named in 1775 by a group of pioneer settlers. Stone walls and building foundations are scattered throughout the site and provide a chance to imagine what Lexington would have looked like in years past. Now a nature park managed by Lexington Parks and Recreation, McConnell Springs is a thriving hub of urban wildlife and native landscape. The Kentucky American Water Education Center sits at the front of the park to welcome you and provide information about the plants and animals you will find as you walk the nearly 2 miles of trail that wind through woodland and around the artesian springs that give the park its name. All trails are hard surface or covered with woodchips, but closed toe shoes are recommended. The cost is $49. Seating is limited to 35 people so register early. See the registration form for details.

3:45 - 
4:30 PM
Behind-the-Scenes Landscape Tour of the Griffin Gate Resort - SOLD OUT
Perched in the rolling Bluegrass Country hills of Lexington, Kentucky, the Griffin Gate Resort has beautiful landscapes and an 18-hole championship golf course. On this special tour you will learn how the horticulture team plans, manages, and maintains the landscapes and golf course. You will also be the first to see the AIB Legacy Garden that will be unveiled during the symposium. There is no additional fee for this tour, but registration is limited to 20 participants. See the registration form for details.

 4 - 5:30 PM
Mayor & Elected Leaders Reception (By Invitation Only)
America in Bloom is pleased to present an educational and networking program designed exclusively for mayors and elected officials. Participants will network with their counterparts and hear presentations and testimonials from mayors and elected officials who have witnessed and experienced the many benefits of the AIB program. Hosted by former Arroyo Grande, California Mayor Tony Ferrara and current Lewisburg, West Virginia Mayor John Manchester, this forum is a must for all mayors and elected officials.                

 5 - 6:15 PM
Opening Night Reception & Silent Auction
This is an informal cash bar event for AIB community delegates to meet each other and participate in the AIB Silent Auction. Come early as there will be lots to see and do! Don't worry about buying large items at the auction. The hotel offers shipping service.

6:30 -
9:30   PM
Celebration of America in Bloom Communities
We kick off the Symposium with this dinner and celebration of your achievements. This is a time for food, fun, and awards! Each AIB community will be recognized for their efforts. All John R. Holmes III Community Champion nominees will be honored. This is where we celebrate YOU and what YOUR community is doing to make America bloom!

Friday, September 28
7:45 AM -   12:15 PM
Showcase of Innovation
The symposium is where we share best practices, ideas and solutions that work, and help one another make our communities stronger. The Showcase of Innovation features specially-invited exhibitors with innovative products and services relevant to AIB communities. Make a point to meet with each of them! They will be available until lunch time today.

 8 - 8:30 AM
Welcome to the 17th Annual America in Bloom Symposium
AIB Symposium Chair Linda Hart and Lexington representatives will kick things off and prepare you for the days ahead. 

8:30 - 9 AM
Keynote Presentation: Why Flowers, Plants & Trees Matter
Scott Beuerlein, Horticulturalist at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Our future has never been more uncertain. Big challenges with climate and social issues await us, and never has Horticulture been more important. Conversely, it can be argued that never has Horticulture been less valued. Scott will present a big picture view of all that horticulture does to make our lives, homes, neighborhoods, and communities healthier, economically strong, and environmentally better, and why it needs to be a part of the solution.

 9 - 9:45 AM
Panel Presentation: What's the Character of Your Community?
The character of your community informs and enriches the experience of residents and visitors, even if we do not consciously notice it. In this three-part panel presentation, you will learn ways to recognize, celebrate, and protect your community’s unique character. Susan Speckert of the Fayette Alliance will speak about “Establishing a Growth Boundary.” Ed Hooker, Historic Architect with the National Cemetery Administration, will speak about “Protecting Your Community’s Heritage Assets.” The final session in this panel will be “Defining Your Sense of Place," presented by Brandi Peacher of the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.

 9:45 -
10 AM
Break
10 -
10:45 AM
Panel Presentation: First Impressions are Lasting Impressions
Is your community putting its best foot forward to project an image of a livable community? It is not easy to overcome a bad first impression. In this three-part panel presentation, you’ll learn how the little things make a big difference in forming lasting impressions. AIB Judge Stephen Pategas will speak about “Gateway Features.” AIB Board Member and Judge Linda Cromer will speak on “Clean It Up.” Tony Abruscato of Chicago Gateway Green will share how to “Turn Blight into Right.”

10:45 -
11:45 AM
Pecha Kucha Style Presentation: Volunteers - How to Get 'Em & How to Keep 'Em
Facilitator, Kristin Pategas, AIB Judge
Hear from communities that have developed innovative and easy-to-implement solutions to find, keep, and recognize your In Bloom volunteers. Not only will you hear their story in the unique Pecha Kucha style, you’ll be able to take home strategies to get people more engaged.

 11:45 AM -   12:15 PM Afternoon Sneak Peek
This program will prepare you for what to expect on this afternoon’s offsite events. First, we’ll learn about the University of Kentucky Arboretum that we’ll be visiting. Learn its history, importance to tourism, and its impact on the community. Then we’ll learn about Botherum, a charming historic Lexington estate we’ll be visiting for a unique reception. Botherum has been featured in numerous magazines showcasing the architecture, gardens, and history of the property.

 12:30 PM Lunch
Enjoy a casual picnic-style lunch on the Pavilion as you overlook the resort’s beautiful golf course and landscaped areas.

 1:30 PM Buses Depart for Afternoon & Evening Events
Hop on the bus! We’re heading into downtown Lexington for our afternoon and evening activities. 
 2 - 4:30 PM
University of Kentucky Arboretum Tour
The Arboretum, the State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, is a 100-acre greenspace located on the campus of the University of Kentucky in the heart of Lexington. On this tour you will enjoy three main features: the Walk Across Kentucky, the Home Demonstration Garden, and the Kentucky Children's Garden. The Walk Across Kentucky is a 2-mile paved loop featuring wild-collected native plants from the 7 physiographic regions of Kentucky. The Home Demonstration Garden includes several outdoor “rooms” which model what gardeners can accomplish in their yards. Lastly, the Kentucky Children’s Garden is a place for children and their families to connect with and learn about plants and the environment.

 4:30 - 6 PM
Bourbon Tasting Reception at Historic Botherum
We're in for a treat with a special reception at Historic Botherum, a home built in 1851 but given new life by owners Jon Carloftis and Dale Fisher. Built from Kentucky limestone and situated on a lot nearly an acre in size, Botherum is the largest residential property in downtown Lexington.

 6 - 9 PM
Downtown Dine-Around
Following the bourbon reception at Historic Botherum, transportation will be provided to and from one of four unique Lexington neighborhoods so you can dinner on your own. Make your own arrangements or participate in a dine-around. Dine-Arounds are an opportunity to network, share, and learn over dinner. Dinner reservations are highly suggested. The local Lexington committee has created a webpage to help you make reservations. Scroll through the page to see what’s available and to make your reservation.

Saturday, September 29 
7:45 -
11:30 AM
Showcase of Innovation
The symposium is where we share best practices, ideas and solutions that work, and help one another make our communities stronger. The Showcase of Innovation features specially-invited exhibitors with innovative products and services relevant to AIB communities. Make a point to meet with each of them! They will be available all morning.

 8 - 8:30 AM
America in Bloom: Where We Are & Where We're Going
John Manchester, AIB President & Mayor of Lewisburg, West Virginia
These are exciting times at America in Bloom, as we prepare to launch new initiatives to engage with, inspire, and continue to help communities transform. John will share where AIB is now, but more importantly where we’re going.

 8:30 - 9 AM Keynote Presentation: Monetizing the Value of AIB
Charlie Hall, Texas A&M University
Ever wondered what the dollar value is of what we do as an organization? Ever tried to put that into words that municipal leaders will respond to? Ever tried to make a compelling case for volunteers to step up and participate in your In Bloom efforts? If these questions resonate with you, then you do not want to miss this session. Charlie will provide relevant data that helps quantify the benefits of AIB and the future research that is planned in this area.

9 -
10:30 AM
Community Forum
Facilitator, Leslie Pittenger, AIB Board Member & Judge; Sue Amatangelo, AIB Judge
This is your time to share your great ideas with other AIB community leaders. Each community will have an opportunity to share their best ideas and success stories so that others can learn from you. This session is guaranteed to fill your notebook with great ideas to take home.  

 10:30 -   10:45 AM Break

 10:45 AM -   12:15 PM
Meet the Judges
These sessions are set up so that each 2018 AIB community can meet with their judges and delegates from other AIB communities. Get excellent insight into the ordinary and extraordinary things towns and cities are doing across America. Your judges will share what they saw during their visits to communities and how to enhance your town’s participation in AIB.

 12:30 PM Buses Depart for Lunch & Lexington Community Tour

12:30 -
4:30 PM
Lunch & Lexington Tour
Today you’ll get to experience the magic of Lexington, a unique combination of big city chic and southern hospitality. This “moving classroom” will showcase how Lexington’s business, residential, and municipal sectors work together to create a community steeped in history but pushing to the future. The guided tour will be 2.5 hours with breaks along the way. Bring your walking shoes!

5:30 -
6:30 PM
Reception at Historic Mansion at Griffin Gate
Beautifully situated atop a grass knoll on the resort’s property, this historic two-story antebellum mansion has undergone a succession of distinguished owners and architectural improvements since it was built in the 19th century. During this final-night cash-bar reception you will learn about the mansion’s history, perhaps have a friendly encounter with the rumored ghost, and enjoy networking with other AIB communities. On the short walk to and from the mansion you’ll pass by the first-ever AIB Legacy Garden, created just for us by the horticulture team at the Griffin Gate.

6:45 -
10 PM
America in Bloom Awards Banquet
The anticipation goes into high gear with more food, fun, and awards. This final-night event shines the spotlight on the transformative efforts being done in AIB communities.