Saturday 26 May 2018

The logistics of transforming a 70-acre site and feeding over 100,000 visitors are complex...

Gary Graham and friends at the launch of Bloom.
Gary Graham and friends at the launch of Bloom.
Back in Bloom: Budding Bloomers Chloe Walsh, age 6 and Eabha Scully, age 6 (right) look forward to Bloom. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

Gary Graham

Often referred to as Mr Bloom, Gary Graham from Bord Bia has managed the festival since its inception in 2007. In his spare time, Gary is also one of the judges on RTE One's Super Garden show. Here, Gary gives us a taste of what is involved behind the scenes.

Gary, it's the ninth year of Bloom, what aspects of planning this fabulous event are you most excited about this year?

No matter how many new features we have it is always the show gardens that excite me. The designers have limited time and budget and everyone, including me, has high expectations. Thankfully, no matter what the weather, they have never let us down.

Can you tell us a bit about the scale of the project - what is involved in terms of its all-year round organisation and logistics?

In Bord Bia we work on Bloom every day throughout the year. Typically we have a small team of six people, however, as the show approaches the team grows in line with the intensity of activities and list of jobs. When the show opens we will have more than 3,000 people working on site. The logistics of taking over a 70-acre site and entertaining and feeding more than 100,000 visitors are complex. Suffice to say that it takes a lot of planning and expertise and every year we learn how to do it better.

The public are beginning to really see Bloom as a much wider kind of festival - it's not only about horticulture but food, fun and a great family day out. How important is that?

This is hugely important as Bloom is not aimed solely at the gardenistas or food lovers. Bloom is Bord Bia's opportunity to convert the reluctant gardeners to the joys and benefits of gardening. I believe that it is nearly impossible to come to Bloom and not be inspired to do some gardening. The Food Village is increasingly popular with both foodies and non-foodies; again I believe that once the senses have been engaged, visitors will try something new.

This key Bord Bia calendar event will celebrate an amazing milestone next year. Did you ever think you would be getting ready to mark 10 years?

When we started Bloom it was with a commitment to run it for three years. It had to prove its value before we could commit to doing it every year. That said, I was confident that if we could get the food and horticulture industries on board, the public would be impressed and we could create a show that could run for decades.

What are you most proud about in terms of your involvement in managing Bloom?

I am proud of the level of commitment my work colleagues give to Bloom, beyond the call of duty. And I am proud of how the Irish public have claimed Bloom as their own show - they are proud of it and very protective of it, and never shy about telling us how to make improvements. They are always full of positive suggestions and compliments for our efforts.

Gary Graham is the Bloom show manager

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