In 2009, Karina Motes went to the Tamiami Orchid Festival with her mother, a longtime orchid hobbyist. Motes came across the Motes Orchid table and asked Bartholomew Motes about one of the orchids.
“There was this one really beautiful orchid, so I approached the Motes Orchid table and asked the gentleman behind the counter what the name of the orchid was. It turned out that the orchid was named Bartholomew Motes, and the person who I was asking was also Bartholomew Motes,” Karina Motes said.
Bartholomew and Karina Motes ended up exchanging vows — and orchids — at their wedding. Their story is similar to that of many “orchid couples” and “orchid friends” who bond over their dedication to the orchid world and their passion for the intricacies of the flowers and the care it takes to keep them alive.
The annual Tamiami Orchid Festival is a place for orchid lovers, like the Motes family, to unite to see displays, sit in on lectures and buy and trade orchids from around the world. About 6,000 guests are expected at this year’s event, which will be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 23 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds Expo Center, 10900 Coral Way.
Justin Lowe, who has attended multiple orchid events, said that he enjoys the Tamiami festival because it’s about more than just the flowers — it’s also a social event. Lowe and his partner, Jamie McCarter, spend time gardening together and look forward to the orchid festival every year.
“The first big thing we really went to was the Tamiami orchid show and we tailgated before the show,” Lowe said. “[Growing orchids] is something that’s best when you can get together with large groups of people.”
But guests don’t have to be orchid experts to enjoy the festival. During the event, there will be growing classes for both amateurs and advanced orchid owners presented in English and Spanish.
“It’s intended for the general public, and also intended for sophisticated orchid people. It really is wide-ranging. There will be something there for everyone,” said Martin Motes, president of Motes Orchids and member of the Miami-Dade County Agricultural Advisory Board.
Orchid growers are invited to bring their plants for exhibit and judging between noon and 5 p.m. Jan. 22. Multiple cash prizes for experienced and amateur growers will be available.
The 13th annual Tamiami International Orchid Festival will feature orchids from multiple countries, including China, Japan, Malaysia, Peru, Venezuela and the Philippines.
Unique hybrids that have never been exhibited in South Florida will be available for purchase. Local orchid societies will be on hand to recruit members and answer questions, and will prepare orchid exhibits.
“This is such a great opportunity for someone in South Florida who likes orchids, but doesn’t have the means to travel, to find all these different types of orchids under one roof,” Karina Motes said.