Courier Staff Writer
Plenty of booths told visitors how to get rid of bugs. Only one booth brought bugs with them.
“She’s just waiting for her turn to pet the tarantula,” said Elissa Davis of Ottumwa.
She and daughter Jolie Grothe, 9, were at the 2013 Ottumwa Home and Garden Show at Bridge View Center. Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce director Terry McNitt was one of the organizers, and he said there were some really interesting things going on this year.
And yes, he said, that included the ISU Insect Zoo from the entomology department of Iowa State University.
The mom watching her daughter pet the plate-sized tarantula smiled.
“Her name is Rosie,” Mom said, meaning the spider, not her daughter.
“There were tree scorpions,” said Jolie, who was a bit surprised by how small — and big — the different insects were.
The pair were able to pick up various pearls of wisdom from the staff at the insect zoo. For example, viewing a stink bug, visitors learned the almost philosophical lesson in natural defenses that “when you’re stinky, nothing eats you.”
Kristi Argueta of Ottumwa was taking pictures of sons Ethan, 7, and Andrew, 10. They were examining — cautiously — a large hissing cockroach, a centipede that appeared to be half a foot long, and a walking stick which was even longer.
McNitt said adults liked the exhibit, too. And Ethan and Andrew’s mom, who’d gone to get them after seeing the zoo, agreed. When asked what booths she liked at the expo, she said she was just getting ready to go see the first vendor.
“We’ve been kind of stuck at this booth — because it’s awesome!” Argueta said.
But she also enjoyed seeing the star of the expo, Jerry Kluver, the Iowa TV personality from the “Get Growing” series. He was sponsored by and works as a garden manager for Hy-Vee. McNitt was almost in awe of the expert.
“He had that theater in there packed,” McNitt said. “And he answered every question. Every one of them — nobody could trip him up. He met all expectations.”
Argueta had been in attendance there.
“He was very knowledgeable,” she said while her kids observed the insects, alternating between looking thrilled and horrified. “He had such a ... he was a very entertaining man, and that made it more interesting.”
So what brought her to the show in the first place?
“I’ve always had ‘a brown thumb.’ I’m trying to develop a green thumb,” she said.
Davis had started with the vendor booths before she and Jolie made it to the insect area.
“We even got some seeds for our garden this year,” Mom said.
Her daughter, she said, enjoyed both the handmade jewelry displays and a large sewing area.
“I’m very pleased,” said McNitt while crowds moved past him. “Normally, we get some good exhibitors, but this year we got a couple of great ones. The [attendance] numbers are good, the vendors are pleased; I’m very happy.”