Pat Zweifel compared this time of year to a car chase scene in a movie. I’m comparing this past summer to a vintage Saturday Night Live skit called “The Guest Who Wouldn’t Leave”. As the warm temperatures we didn’t get have in July and August are lingering into September, it seems that the summer which took so long to get here just can’t bear to leave without one more hors d’ouevres. Along with the strange summer came this year’s hurricane season.
    
It’s taking a bite out of our conference planning. The speaker program was completed months ago, greenhouse tours mapped out and confirmed in the spring, the brochure mailed ahead of schedule – all we had to do was sit back and wait for the registrations to pour in.
    
Mostly what’s pouring these days is rain, carried into the Southeast by the winds of Hurricanes Charley, Frances and Ivan (so far). By now you should have learned that our friends at Burdette Coward in Punta Gorda, Florida lost their beautiful facilities to Charley.  Besides the great personal damage, it was clear that the ASCFG tour scheduled for greenhouses in Southeast Florida would have to be rearranged.
    
Conference Chair Jon Landwer is working with Bob Stamps and Lance Osborne to find alternatives. The new schedule will be sent to all members and those already registered as soon as it’s confirmed.
    
The Bonus Tour to Leu Gardens on Saturday, November 6, is still on and will still be led by Allan Armitage. The Tour, limited to 40 attendees is not yet full, so if you’re planning to attend, call today to reserve your spot.  
    
The Educational Sessions and Trade Show will be held as normal. The Doubletree Hotel in Orlando suffered no major damage, and the infrastructure in the surrounding area is in good shape.
    
In fact, the Trade Show will feature several vendors new to our members. Don’t miss your introduction to companies like Rotaris, FarmWorks Software, Stuppy Greenhouse Manufacturing, Floral Consulting Group, and the Love Box Company.
    
In additional to the valuable standbys of new varieties and pest control, educational sessions will include topics like tracking your costs electronically, small business loans, and crop scheduling. You’ve been asking for this kind of information for years – now is your chance to see them in person.
    
Every year the Conference planning committee strives to come up with ways to make the meeting more interesting, more memorable than the year before.
  
I pore over the association management and meeting planners’ magazines I get every month, hoping to glean a few ideas that I can implement at the next ASCFG Conference. Surely the checkin process, or the banquet, or even the sessions portion could be jazzed up a little. I’ve found a few that I think will work. See them on page 25.
    
Please continue your support of the ASCFG – and your own business – by attending the 2004 Conference in Orlando.