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At the Home Garden Flower Show held in Fryeburg last weekend, attendees visit a booth sponsored by North Country Angler, Trout Unlimited and Orvis. About 5,000 people attended the two-day event that included 170 exhibitors. (MARK GUERRINGUE PHOTO)

FRYEBURG, Maine — Cannabis-related products and services were introduced for the first time at the Home Garden Flower Show held at the Fryeburg Fairgrounds last weekend, and by most accounts, it was hit.

Under the new ownership of The Conway Daily Sun, the show attracted more than 5,000 people over two days, Publisher Mark Guerringue said, adding that introducing a cannabis building was risky but it paid off.

“When we first announced it, people were a bit taken aback, to say the least,” said Guerringue, ”but it turns out with the legalization of cannabis and the growing popularity of its medicinal uses, particularly as a substitute for opiates, the timing was right.

“Not only did the cannabis exhibitors do well,” Guerringue added, “but non-cannabis vendors want to be in the cannabis building next year because it got so much traffic.”

Guerringue said his favorite story related to cannabis was how a few older show attendees were there on the recommendation of their doctors.

“Cannabis products work wonders for relief from arthritis pain,” he said.

Of the 170 exhibitors in the show, about 25 were cannabis-related. Guerringue predicted there may be 50-75 next year.

Another big hit (and new addition to the show) were oysters. Sandra from 302 Smokehouse & Tavern in Fryeburg shucked some 500 oysters each day, selling them at a dollar apiece. The proceeds, 50 percent from 302 and 50 percent from the Home Show, were donated to Camden Bailey, a boy in Jackson who is battling serious health issues.

Guerringue said all of the oysters were consumed in about 90 minutes each day. Next year there will be a lot more oysters.

“We’re not sure how we’re going to structure it, but we’ll be definitely offering a food event built around oysters and beer,” he said.

For the fourth year, local chef Steffani Adaska ran cooking classes, always a show favorite.

This year, the show ran two days, Saturday and Sunday, instead of the usual three days.

Guerringue said it is likely the show will return to a Friday-Sunday format. “We made a lot of good changes to the show, but that wasn’t one of them,” he said. “The exhibitors like the third day.”

The founder of show, Karla Ficker, ran it for 17 years and this year sold it to the Sun. She continues to be involved but on a limited basis.

“Putting on a show like this is a huge project, which we found out right away,” said Guerringue. “It was a lot for us, and we’ve got a big staff. Incredible that she did it by herself.”

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