“MFA hosts its 99th annual event and makes plans for its centennial celebration.” 

Ninety-nine years and counting! The Michigan Floral Association (MFA) prepared for its 2020 Centennial Celebration, “Empowered, a Century of Strength,” with a rousing 2019 Great Lakes Floral & Event Expo. Held in Grand Rapids, the meeting featured outstanding design sessions, informative business talks and a series of hands-on workshops.

Highlighting the main stage was a show by Hitomi Gilliam, AIFD, EMC, who wowed the audience with her everyday designs presentation. Other outstanding features were Brooke Raulerson, AIFD, FSMD, discussing wedding work; a look at style by Matthew Blind and Garrett Skupinski, CF; wedding designs with Sharon McGukin, AIFD, AAF, PFCI; trends with Jackie Lacey, AIFD, AAF, PFCI; and a look at how to grow event business using the internet and floral artistry with Randy Laipply and Events by Ludema.

Business sessions and workshops covered myriad topics from event management, social media and boho styling to sales, hand-tied bridal bouquets and building your brand.

As always, awards were presented at the annual President’s Banquet. Leading the list were Red and Katie Kennicott, Kennicott Brothers Company, who were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for service to the industry.

This year’s other honorees were:

• DESIGNER OF THE YEAR: Brenda Hankis; Eastern Floral; Grand Rapids, Mich.
• ACADEMY DIVISION WINNER: Jerome Raska, AIFD, AAF, PFCI, CF, CAFA; Blumz … by JRDesigns; Detroit, Ferndale and Holly, Mich.
• CHUCK BANNOW AWARD WINNER: Jason Parent, CFD; Fiddleheads Flowers; South Portland, Maine
• RETAILER OF THE YEAR: Gaudreau the Florist; Saginaw, Mich.
• WHOLESALE SUPPLIER OF THE YEAR: Syndicate Sales; Kokomo, Ind.
• WHOLESALE EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR: Tom Mulder; G. Christians & Son; Grand Rapids, Mich.
• YOUNG PERSON OF THE YEAR: Kiersten Schulte; Eastern Floral; Grand Rapids, Mich.

*At the annual business meeting, members voted to adopt a name change for the association. In order to become more inclusive, it will now be known as the Great Lakes Floral Association. President Jerome Raska noted that the association hopes to include states like Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, where there are no floral associations, and broaden their reach to promote flowers.

Next year’s centennial Expo will be held March 6-8, 2020, at Devos Place in Grand Rapids.