Fifth annual Syracuse Rose Society Rose Fair emphasizes education

Syracuse Rose Society Rose Fair emphasizes education

Community members learn gardening tips and techniques from experienced rosarians, enjoy informative exhibits and hands-on demos.
Published: April 30, 2018

The Syracuse Rose Society held its most popular Rose Fair yet on Saturday as more than 30 community members attended the event in its fifth year.

Hosted at the Liverpool Public Library on Tulip Street, the fair showcased 16 exhibits in the Carman Community Room. The exhibits — which included rose culture and identification, sustainable gardening, and a look at the E.M. Mills Rose Garden in Thornden Park — were operated by society members with expertise in the respective areas.

The Syracuse Rose Society has operated for 107 years, making it one of the oldest rose societies in the United States. Pam Dooling, president of the organization, said the society has about 185 members, including consulting rosarians that help people address any issues facing their gardens. Many of its members thrive on sharing information about rose gardening at events like the fair.

“The Rose Fair has different stations so people can go and ask questions of the rosarians and members of the Syracuse Rose Society,” Dooling said. “For instance, if someone wants to know about insects and how to control the Japanese beetles, they would go to that table and learn which pesticides to use.”

Dottie White, who was stationed at the rose culture and identification exhibit, taught visitors how to select the right roses for certain spaces and tips for growing in central New York’s weather conditions. White has been growing roses since the late 1960s and joined the society in 1993.


Explore the 5th annual Rose Fair in this 360-degree image.


“Oh, it’s been the most enjoyable thing,” White said of her time in the society. “My friendships have continued on, and the amount of information I have learned — rosarians are very free and congenial about sharing information.”

White said she enjoys working in the E.M. Mills Rose Garden with the society because she has fun while learning and sharing information with her friends. At the rose garden and at her home, what White loves most about gardening is being able to see results.

“One thing about gardening, you can see progress,” White said. “With some things, you can pour everything into them and there seems to be no return. But my rose garden greets me when I go out in the morning, it greets me when I come home, and I love it.”


Event organizer Mary McHale (left) and Syracuse Rose Society president Pam Dooling greet attendees at the Rose Fair.


Dottie White has been part of the society since 1993.

Jim Kahler, who serves as the first vice president of the society, had the idea to host the first Syracuse Rose Society Rose Fair in 2013 at the Thornden Park Field House.

“Do you remember the science fairs that the kids have? You go over and say, ‘This is nice,’ but maybe (one exhibit) catches your interest a little more than the others,” Kahler said. “I said, ‘Why can’t we set this up with roses?’ There are so many things people want to know.”

When Kahler joined the society in 2011, he had two roses. Now, he has 210 in the same quarter-acre of land in Little Falls and wants younger generations to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing what they have the potential to grow.

“The millennials and stuff — everyone is into the technology. Don’t get me wrong. Technology is great. But there are other things in life, too,” Kahler said. “You can’t be couch potatoes all your life. But I think you’re going to find we want to keep this alive and spread it on for generations. We want to see this society continue to grow.”

John Schmitt and his daughter, Kensington, of Liverpool, attended the fair for the second year in a row.

Linda Szmalc teaches attendees how to make rock art.

“Oh, (Kensington) loves this. I grew up with my grandparents spending a lot of time in the garden. So, it’s been a fun experience to pass along to her,” Schmitt said. “She really liked the rocks and loved the arrangement station.”

Kensington was one of the day’s raffle winners and took home a rock painted like a rose.

The Syracuse Rose Society will host its 99th annual rose show on June 23 at Destiny USA.