Mark your calendars for the 2024 symposium, September 26-28 in Columbus and Logan, Ohio.
Below is information from the 2023 conference in South Carolina.  

Watch this page for the 2023 America in Bloom Award Winners. Awards announced throughout the symposium, September 28-30.

Community Champion Award: Tim France, Coshocton, Ohio
Youth Involvement Award: Castle Rock, Washington
Best Community Garden Program: Brewton, Alabama
Best Mural Program: Portsmouth, Ohio
Better Together – Best Example of Public/Private Partnership: Mundelein, Illinois
Eye-Popping Pots – Best Use of Containers in the Landscape: Coshocton, Ohio
Coolest Downtown: Tavares, Florida
Innovation in Action – Most Impressive New Project or Program: Carthage, Missouri
Coolest Place for Kids: Orion Township, Michigan
Best Volunteer Recognition Program: Logan, Ohio
Best Youth Gardening Program: Howard, Wisconsin
What’s Old is New Again – Best Adaptive Reuse Project: Logan, Ohio
Catching Community Spirit – Digital & Social Media Communications: Castle Rock, Washington
The Sunbeam Award: Worcester, Massachusetts
YouTube Award: Orion Township, Michigan
YouTube People’s Choice Award: Orion Township, Michigan
Community Vitality Outstanding Achievement Award: Madison, Mississippi
Environmental Initiatives Outstanding Achievement Award: Edmonston, Maryland
Floral Impact Outstanding Achievement Award: Lewisburg, West Virginia
Celebrating Heritage Outstanding Achievement Award: Orion Township, Michigan
Landscaped Areas Outstanding Achievement Award: Groveland, Florida
Overall Impression Outstanding Achievement Award: Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania
Urban Forestry Outstanding Achievement Award: Washington, Missouri
Community Involvement Outstanding Achievement Award: Howard, Wisconsin
Under 3,500 Population Category Award: Castle Rock, Washington
3,5000 – 6,000 Population Category Award: Lakeside, Ohio
6,000 – 10,000 Population Category Award: Hawthorn Woods, Illinois
10,000 – 15,000 Population Category Award: Washington, Missouri
15,000 – 20,000 Population Category Award: Portsmouth, Ohio
20,000 – 25,000 Population Category Award: Tavares, Florida
25,000 – 33,000 Population Category Award: Mundelein, Illinois
33,000 – 65,000 Population Category Award: Buffalo Grove, Illinois
Over 65,000 Population Category Award: Cicero, Illinois

Welcome to Spartanburg!

And a Special Greeting from Greenwood, South Carolina, this year’s host community

On behalf of our Mayor and City Council, it is our great pleasure to welcome you to Greenwood, South Carolina! Beautiful Greenwood is in the Lower Piedmont region of Upstate South Carolina, and provides a friendly, small-town setting along with the progressive and active environment of a larger city. Greenwood’s collaborative community spirit, mild climate, excellent healthcare, exciting cultural arts programs, and affordable cost of living are just a few of the amenities which make the area a prime location for those searching for the perfect new home. Greenwood serves as the regional hub for six surrounding counties in education, lodging, retail, healthcare, and much more! Our picturesque lakes and gently rolling landscapes provide a beautiful rural setting for residents. Greenwood is also only a few hours’ drive from both the mountains and the coast, as well as several major metropolitan areas. Our community is truly a hidden gem among many of South Carolina’s wonderful landmarks!

Greenwood has been named one of Southern Living’s Great Small Towns, and our vibrant downtown has been recognized as one of the American Planning Association’s Great Places in America. You’ll find natural beauty, outdoor fun, boutique shopping, and thriving local restaurants. A small community with a big story to tell, friendly Greenwood, South Carolina is alive with fun and Southern charm!

On Friday of the symposium, we will host you for the afternoon and evening in Greenwood. You will hear the stories of collaboration firsthand by touring numerous pollinator and native gardens, a legendary Railroad Historical Center, and of course, all things topiaries.  You will see many of them on display in the city center and learn all about the process as you tour the Topiary Greenhouse. You will have an opportunity to visit some of Uptown Greenwood’s chic boutiques and shops and end the evening with a Taste of the South dinner at our Uptown Farmers’ Market.

Greenwood’s participation in America in Bloom has brought not only recognition to our community, but increased exposure to the SC Festival of Flowers and its Signature Topiary Display. The improvements Greenwood has seen from its involvement in America in Bloom are now proving to be key, as the city is seeing major successes in both residential and commercial development.

We look forward to hosting you in South Carolina, where you will soon be “Buzzing with Beauty”!

Register now for the 2023 AIB Symposium & Awards Celebration, September 28-30. 

Thursday, Sept 28
7:30 AM – 4 PM Biltmore Estate & Gardens (SOLD OUT)
Afternoon Silent Auction Opens
4:30 – 5:30 PM Elected Leaders and City Administrators Roundtable
5:30 – 6:30 PM Opening Night Reception
6:30 – 10 PM Community Connections Celebration & Silent Auction
 
Friday, Sept 29
7:15 – 8 AM Morning Jolt: Caffeine & Conversation 
8 – 8:45 AM Welcome & Keynote Presentation: Protecting the Life that Sustains Us – Conserving Pollinators
8:45 – 9:30 AM Engaging with County Extension and Utilizing Other Partners
9:30 – 9:45 AM Showcase of Innovation & Conversation
9:45 – 10:45 AM Best Ideas Community Forum
10:45 – 11:15 AM Best Ideas Talk Back: The Doctor Will See You Now
11:15 – 11:30 AM Showcase of Innovation & Conversation
11:30 AM – 12 PM Networking Lunch
12:15 PM Buses depart for Greenwood, South  Carolina Adventure
 
Saturday, Sept 30
7:45 – 8:15 AM Morning Jolt: Caffeine & Conversation
8:15 – 8:30 AM State of the Organization
8:30 – 9:15 AM Problem Solving America in Bloom Style
9:15 – 11:15 AM Meet with the Advisors
11:15 – 11:30 AM Showcase of Innovation & Conversation
11:30 AM – 12: 15 PM Hot Topics Deep Dive Breakout Sessions
Afternoon Lunch on your own with self-guided walking tour of downtown Spartanburg and bus loop to Hatcher Gardens
5:30 – 6:30 PM Closing Night Reception
6:30 – 9:30 PM Evening in Bloom: America in Bloom Awards Banquet
 

Registration Option 
Full conference registration – $415
Thursday AIB dinner and celebration ONLY – $175
Saturday AIB dinner and awards ONLY – $175

Pre-Tours: Enhance Your Experience
Biltmore Estate & Gardens (Thursday) – $149 (SOLD OUT)

Register online HERE.

Save money by registering by September 4.

Cancellations made on our before September 4 will be refunded in full, minus a $25 processing fee.
Cancellations made after September 4 are non-refundable.
Cancellations for Biltmore Tour are non-refundable after August 27.

Download the full conference brochure

Hotel Reservations

Make your hotel reservations at the Spartanburg Marriott by calling 864-596-1211. To receive the special AIB rate of $169/night plus tax for single or double occupancy, you must tell them you are with the America in Bloom group. Or you may reserve your room online at the AIB rate by going HERE.  Reservations must be made by September 4. 

The hotel, located at 299 N Church Street in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is approximately 25 minutes from the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. Taxis, rental cars, limousines, and other transportation options are available from the airport. Visit HERE for more information.

Download the full conference brochure.

Thursday, September 28

7:30 AM – 4 PM         Biltmore Estate & Gardens (SOLD OUT)
Nestled within 8,000 acres of pristine Blue Ridge Mountain beauty, the Biltmore Estate is a one-of-a-kind destination. You will discover the estate’s origin and its evolution from the country home of the Vanderbilt family to beloved national treasure. This audio-guided tour spans three floors and the basement of the luxurious home, and then you can explore the historic gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the father of American landscape design. You will be in horticultural paradise experiencing the indoor and outdoor gardens! This tour includes transportation and admission to the house and gardens. Lunch options are available at the Biltmore for all budgets and styles. This tour requires walking. The cost is $149. Seating is limited so register early. SOLD OUT

4:30 PM                                     Elected Leaders and City Administrators Roundtable
America in Bloom is pleased to present an idea sharing and networking program designed exclusively for elected leaders and municipal administrators. Through peer-to-peer discussion, learn about the solutions communities are using to solve some of today’s challenges facing municipalities of all sizes. This roundtable is a must for all elected officials and municipal leaders. Refreshments will be served. 

5:30 PM                                     Opening Night Reception
Catch up with old friends and make new ones during this informal cash bar event. Participate in the silent auction and help kick off the conference.

6:30 PM                                     Community Connections Dinner Celebration & Silent Auction
Now it’s time to celebrate your achievements. This is a time for food, fun, and awards! Each AIB community will be recognized for their efforts. All Dwight Lund Community Champion nominees will be honored and the winner announced. This is where we celebrate YOU and what YOUR community is doing to make America bloom! At the end of the festivities, enjoy dessert while networking with your peers and making your final bids on silent auction items.

 

Friday, September 29

7:15 AM                               Morning Jolt: Caffeine & Conversation
Caffeine + conversation = great start to the day. Breakfast, coffee, and conversation will be avaialble in the ballroom to start your morning. Visit with other AIB attendees and the Showcase of Innovation companies. These companies feature innovative products and services relevant to your community.

8 AM                                     Let’s Get Started!
AIB Symposium Chair Pam Newton and Greenwood, South Carolina representatives will kick things off and prepare you for the days ahead.

8:15 AM                               Keynote Presentation: Protecting the Life that Sustains Us – Conserving Pollinators
Ann Barklow, Clemson University Master Gardener
Research has shown significant global declines in native pollinator population sizes and ranges. Fortunately, correct landscape practices can help to build thriving, diverse native pollinator populations. In this presentation, you will learn how to galvanize your community to sustain pollinators by increasing the abundance of native plants, providing nest sites, and more. Ann will show how volunteers can be involved, mosquito prevention programs and pest control practices to implement, how to educate the residents, and more.

8:45 AM                               Engaging with County Extension and Utilizing Other Partners
Stephanie Ann Turner, Clemson University Extension
What does “right plant, right place” mean? Why is integrated pest management important? What is a mulch volcano, and why is that bad? Across every state and territory, Cooperative Extension is engaged in providing resources and education. Stephanie will highlight how your local Extension office can be a great partner in your efforts to improve the economy, environment, and well-being of residents through the delivery of unbiased research-based information and education. Learn more about Extension programming like South Carolina Master Gardener, Carolina Yards, 4-H, School and Community Garden Programs, and the Home Garden Information Center. Hear inspirational stories of other community partnerships that align with Extension activities and how they can be partners in your In Bloom success.

9:30 AM                               Showcase of Innovation & Conversation
This networking break allows you to continue sharing ideas and meeting Showcase of Innovation companies. 

9:45 AM                               Best Ideas Community Forum
Facilitator: Sue Amatangelo, AIB Advisor
This popular hour-long interactive session will be packed with ideas you take home and implement. Through roundtable discussions you will hear about solutions – big and small – that can help to transform your community. Come with your own best ideas to share!

10:45 AM                            Best Ideas Talk Back: The Doctor Will See You Now
Dr. Charlie Hall, Texas A&M University
Your favorite speaker is back! And this time, we’re putting Dr. Charlie Hall on the spot. Dr. Hall will listen in on your Best Ideas roundtable conversations from the previous session and then use this fast-paced program to react to what he heard. This session showcases Charlie’s unique ability to connect your best ideas to the economic, environmental, and human health benefits of beautification. The doctor is in! 

11:15 AM                               Showcase of Innovation & Conversation
This networking break allows you to continue sharing ideas and meeting Showcase of Innovation companies. 

11:30 AM                            Networking Lunch
This relaxing lunch allows you to connect with other attendees, continue the conversations and idea sharing you’ve had today, and get ready for an exciting afternoon and evening in our host community of Greenwood, South Carolina.

12:15 PM                             Buses Depart for Greenwood, South Carolina Adventure
You get to experience the beauty of Greenwood, South Carolina, a community that mixes hometown hospitality, heritage celebration, and beautiful landscapes.

2 PM                                     Community Tour of Greenwood, South Carolina
Today’s community tour will present a look at Greenwood’s rich history with tours of the Railroad Historical Center and the Benjamin E. Mays Historic Preservation Site. Your learning tour will continue as you walk through the city center and explore pollinator gardens, recent commercial and residential development, and the vibrant Arts and Cultural District. You will learn about Greenwood’s renowned SC Festival of Flowers’ Signature Topiary Display, including where they live and how they are created. The showstopping of topiaries will be displayed throughout the walking tour, so make sure you’re prepared for numerous photo opportunities!

5:30 PM                               Reception
The Community Tour ends with a hosted reception and time for relaxation and conversation in Greenwood’s renovated Arts Center, the perfect venue for networking and socializing while taking in award-winning art exhibits. Refreshments will be provided by the talented Culinary Arts Students from the G. Frank Russell Career Center.

6:30 PM                               “A Taste of the South” Dinner Hosted by the City of Greenwood
Dinner will be served in the City’s Uptown Farmers’ Market that architecturally continues the rich railroad tradition in its “depot” design.  Enjoy an ultimate Southern buffet complete with all the “fixins.” Dessert will be provided by the Career Center’s Culinary Arts Department, all in a true Southern setting complete with Southern flora and fauna. The fun won’t stop there, as the Greenwood in Bloom Committee has prepared a special and fun end to the evening. Everyone will have the opportunity to learn South Carolina’s State Dance, the Shag! So, bring your appetites and dancing shoes to Greenwood. We look forward to hosting y’all!

8 PM                                     Buses Depart for Return to Spartanburg

 

Saturday, September 30

7:45 AM                               Morning Jolt: Caffeine & Conversation
Caffeine + conversation = great start to the day. Breakfast, coffee, and conversation will be avaialble in the ballroom to start your morning. Visit with other AIB attendees and the Showcase of Innovation companies. These companies feature innovative products and services relevant to your community.

8:15 AM                               America in Bloom’s State of the Organization
Jack Clasen, AIB President and Laura Kunkle, AIB Executive Director
In this session you will hear about the organization’s current status, including its achievements, challenges, and plans for the future. Jack and Laura will share how AIB is striving to make even more of an impact in communities.

8:30 AM                               Problem Solving America in Bloom Style
Facilitator: Pam Newton, AIB Symposium Chair
Put your thinking cap on for this problem-solving session. Together, we will explore creative ideas to help solve common issues facing communities.

9:15 AM                               Meet with the Advisors
These sessions are set up so that each community can meet with Advisors and delegates from other AIB communities. Get excellent insight into the ordinary and extraordinary things towns and cities are doing across America. AIB Advisors will share what they saw during their visits to communities and how to enhance your town’s participation in AIB.

11:15 AM                            Showcase of Innovation & Conversation
This networking break allows you to continue sharing ideas and meeting Showcase of Innovation companies.

11:30 AM                            Hot Topics Deep Dive Breakout Sessions
We pick the topics, you pick where to go! Each breakout session will focus on a hot topic impacting communities. This is the perfect opportunity to share your ideas, ask questions, and learn from your peers. We’ll provide plenty of space for discussion, so be prepared to take lots of notes as you explore innovative solutions and best practices for tackling these issues.

Afternoon                          Lunch on Your Own, Self-Guided Historic Tour of Spartanburg, and Shuttle to Hatcher Gardens
You asked for more free time, so here it is! This afternoon is yours to explore. The hotel is just a few blocks from Spartanburg’s thriving downtown. There you can enjoy lunch on your own and learn more about the historic downtown through a self-guided walking tour (maps provided). Then, hop on the shuttle to go Hatcher Gardens and Woodland Preserve. This 10-acre public garden is a place where nature’s charm meets the thrill of learning and stunning scenery provides a sanctuary for wildlife. A shuttle will continually loop from the hotel to downtown to Hatcher Gardens and back to the hotel. So come and go as you wish and explore the beautiful area.  

5:30 PM                               Closing Night Reception
This final night cash bar reception allows you to mingle with old and new friends, swap contact information, and make plans to stay in touch.

6:30 PM                               Evening in Bloom: 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 by AIB communities.

2024: September 26-28. Columbus, Ohio and Logan, Ohio.

Interested in hosting a future symposium? Contact the America in Bloom office.

Sustained through Sponsorships

Through financial and in-kind sponsors, we can share the joy and importance of horticulture, community involvement, heritage preservation, and environmental efforts. Contributions support the annual National Awards Program, maintain our website, facilitate outreach activities, develop educational resources, host the Annual Educational Symposium and Awards, and send Advisors to all participating communities.