If you go

What: Pennsylvania Herb and Garden Festival

When: Noon to 6 p.m. Friday, April 10 and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 11

Where: Memorial Hall at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave., York

Cost: $5 admission (children 12 and younger free), workshops additional

More information:

Eager gardeners are pulling out their potting soil and getting ready for the 17th annual Pennsylvania Herb and Garden Festival.

More than 3,000 visitors with green thumbs eager to dig in the dirt will gather at Memorial Hall April 10 and 11 to prepare for the upcoming growing season.

"This show is very different from other garden shows in the area," said Susan Eggleston, president of the festival committee. "This show has remained a true herb and garden festival that has knowledgeable speakers, demonstrators and well known experts in the field of gardening."

During the first few years, the show was held in a smaller building at the York Expo Center, where there were fewer vendors and speakers, and no workshops were offered. It also used to only last one day, Eggleston said. The show was moved back two months, from June to April, to accommodate early planting times.

In the past decade, the festival has become a passion for Eggleston, who finds herself planning speakers, researching new techniques and counting down the days as soon as the last one ends.

She helped start the festival's famous workshops, which give people hands-on experience. A popular workshop offered each year is an instructional session on herbal containers.

Eggleston is looking forward to that workshop in particular this year, thanks to the addition of Reed Landscaping. When Eggleston attended the Harrisburg Garden Expo in February, she was impressed with the large garden display that Reed Landscaping had available, and asked the business to attend the event in York County.

While Reed Landscaping will provide a circular garden with a natural stone fountain and pavement, Eggleston will show visitors how to plant herbs and flowers to accentuate the landscape, as well as attract birds and butterflies. Many of the herbs she'll plant also can be used in the kitchen, she said.

Other not-to-miss workshops include a demonstration by Chef Robert Roeuck, who will speak both days about the 25 different culinary herbs that people can use to enhance their meals.

In addition, visitors can learn how to plant herbs in a galvanized tin container. This workshop will show new and experienced gardeners how to plant herbs, when to harvest, how to try the product and various ways to use the herbs as ingredients. Visitors can take the planter home and start using it immediately.

More than 100 vendors, including 30 new for this year, will be selling natural soaps and lotions, essential oils and hard-to-find plants.

"It's an event that has become a great learning tool for gardeners of all levels," Eggleston said. "It's the best way to celebrate spring."

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