NILES - Spring seemed to be just around the corner, even as snowflakes fell outside during this weekend's indoor home and garden event.
"We come just about every year. We just like to see what's new, and the people are friendly," said Donna Lott of Howland, who was attending the Mahoning Valley Home and Garden Show with her husband, Robert. "And we always see somebody we know."
Residents have been looking forward to the annual event ever since it began 23 years ago by promoter Dominic Baragona. This was the second year the show offered free admission.
Tribune Chronicle / Bonnie Hazen
Dawn Hull of Canfield, right, builds a birdhouse with her daughter, Gianna Komyati, 4, Saturday at the Home Depot table during the Mahoning Valley Home and Garden Show at the Eastwood Expo Center in Niles.
This year's event also was billed as the largest show of its kind between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, and features more than 150 exhibitors, including kitchen displays, gutter covers, roofers, bath remodelers - even credit unions, professional cleaners and kitchenware.
Customers were able to sample roasted cinnamon flavored nuts and other treats, while representatives of Firebirds Wood Fired Grill displayed their cooking skills.
"It's just enjoyable. You come here and you see all the new things that are going on, and it's good for the community," Lott said.
Five landscaping displays full of blossoms, greenery and stone seemed to draw most of the crowds.
"We just to come see the flowers and landscaping," said Patty Jaskiewicz of Warren. "All the flowers and stuff, it kind of lifts your spirits a little bit."
Her husband, Ray, agreed.
"Probably the landscaping, that's mainly what it's about," he said, adding that coming to the show also helps to alleviate cabin fever.
"I think a lot of people that are walking around here have that," quipped Anna Marie Shargo of Masury, who was also admiring the bathroom displays to see what kind of products are available.
"It's nice to see the tulips and everything planted here," said her sister, Virginia "Ginger" Letourneau of Masury.
Letourneau said this was her first time attending the show in more than 10 years. Her favorite displays included the landscaping, outdoor patios and fire pits.
"The weather was great to just get out," she said.
Another resident, Richard Grimm of Bazetta, said most people attending the show likely were there for the same reason: to satisfy their curiosity.
"I'm doing some remodeling and I'm trying to get some ideas. I usually go through every year," he said.
Does Grimm suffer from cabin fever?
"Who hasn't?" he said with a smile, adding that he hopes spring is not far behind. "I'm tired of four walls.''
Dawn Hull of Canfield was busy building birdhouses with her children while her husband explored options for their deck.
"This is our first year here. I love it," she said. "It's great for the children."
Hull said she wasn't expecting there to be things for her kids to do, but the Home Depot table offered free projects for children to complete, including a planter basket, goal post game, picture frame, birdhouse, coaster set, bulletin board and pencil box.
Hull's 4-year-old daughter, Gianna Komyati, said she was having fun building a birdhouse with her mom.
Melina Tefakis, 7, who was also building a birdhouse, said she planned to keep her project despite the fact that her grandfather has a lot of birdhouses.
Amy Shafer, supervisor of plumbing for the Home Depot in Niles, said the store offers free projects for children to make with their parents from 9 a.m. to noon the first Saturday of every month.
"We get lots of kids every month,'' she said. ''We have different projects every month.''
The Mahoning Valley Home and Garden Show concludes today, with several demonstrations and free antique and collectible appraisals taking place throughout the day. The show is being held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"It's something to do, to get out, look around till the weather breaks," Grimm said.