Only In Alaska…

Alaska's Field To Vase Dinner Was Unlike Any Other

The view from Scenic Place Peonies lives up to its name.

Our most recent stop on the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour was Scenic Place Peonies in Homer, Alaska. This dinner marked our 22nd dinner in the past three years that we’ve been crisscrossing the country, inviting the the public to come and dine in the fields of America’s most beautiful flower farms.

As I was preparing to head up to the dinner we’d been planning for over a year, I was still getting comments from people who were asking me, “you’re going to Alaska?” Immediately followed by, “they grow flowers in Alaska?”

Yep. Peonies. And not just any ol’ peony. Big ones.

Dinner plate sized peonies greeted each guest as they took their seats for dinner.

Which was exactly why it was so important for the dinner tour to head up to Alaska and shine the spotlight on this burgeoning group of flower farmers who are harvesting these massive peonies during the months of July and August, when historically there hasn’t been any available in the lower 48.

And while the opportunity to tell the story of these farms was too great and something we had to do, it would also be the most risky dinner we’d ever planned.

When you consider that the largest city in Alaska’s population is just under 300,000 people and that market is a 4.5 hour drive for our host farm, we knew we would have our marketing hands full. Would people from the lower 48 really fly up to Alaska and then drive or fly down to Homer?

Yep. They did.

There wasn’t an extra seat at the table. The majority of people drove or flew into Homer for this Field to Vase Dinner, many from the lower 48.

The dinner was a sold out crowd of 116 people, many who flew in to Anchorage and made that drive to Homer. We had a number of people from Fairbanks and Anchorage too.

Flower farmers Kurt and Beth of Scenic Place Peonies.

Certified American Grown flower farmers Beth VanSandt and Kurt Weichhand of Scenic Place Peonies were amazing hosts. They had this incredible team of friends and family helping to prepare their farm for all of the guests who would arrive.

Kelly Shore of Petals By the Shore shares her love for Alaskan peonies during the dinner’s reception.

Kelly Shore of Petals By The Shore was our featured floral designers. You’ll remember Kelly from our work on the First Lady’s Luncheon earlier this year. Kelly was one of our lead designers for that event and did an amazing job. It as through that experience that she had met and gotten to know Beth and Kurt while working together in Washington, D.C. for the event. So, it was a fun reunion to have Kelly in Alaska designing for the American Grown Field to Vase Dinner on Beth and Kurt’s peony farm.

Kelly’s beautiful tablescape was a wonderful tribute to the Alaskan culture.

Kelly did an outstanding job. Working with Beth, she created a tablescape and design installations that honored the Alaskan fishing culture, the entrepreneurial spirit of Alaska’s peony farmers, while highlighting how all  growing momentum for American Grown Flowers.

Publisher Travis Rigby and Teresa Salts with Florists Review Magazine joined us in Alaska.

I have to also tip my hat to chef Dave. Dave Thorne of Delicious Dave’s did an outstanding job with the evening’s salmon dinner, especially the King Salmon… Which in full disclosure, I had caught the day before on the Kenai River (a 40-45pd King Salmon!).

Catching this King Salmon on the Kenai River was something I’ll never forget.

Chef Dave Thorne and I before his filet demonstration with the King Salmon I had caught the day before on the Kenai River.

Never before and probably never again will I be able to say that I caught dinner for one of our American Grown Field to Vase Dinners, but chalk this up as just another example of how incredible this dinner turned out to be.

Only in Alaska.

Were you there? Leave a comment, share your experience below. 

After over a year’s worth of planning, Beth, Kelly and I toast to a wonderful evening celebrating Alaskan Grown peonies and the growing momentum for American Grown Flowers.

This dinner would not have been so well organized, thought through and executed if it wasn’t for these three. A big thank you to Beth (her amazing team), Andrea and Rebecca Kopperud of LaBoum Events.

Thank you to Geyser Peak Winery for joining us in Alaska. The wine was a hit and a perfect pairing for the evening’s meal.

We had some awesome volunteers during this dinner who were wearing some pretty awesome shirts!

Thank you to our sponsors, our national and our regional sponsors help make this American Grown Field to Vase Dinner Tour a reality. We could not do it without their support and it certainly wouldn’t be as fun.

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