Flower Mart welcomes summer to DC


Courtesy of Emily Mulderig

Emily Mulderig

On May 4th and 5th, the National Cathedral celebrated its 76th annual Flower Mart. From great food to a variety of vendors, kids’ rides, live music, performances, and of course plenty of flowers, Flower Mart’s got everything you could want in a spring festival.

I’ve been going to the Flower Mart since I was three, but when I arrived at this year’s, the first different thing I noticed was the theme: pollinator power. With the growing need to make environmentally sustainable decisions, gardeners are coming to rely on pollinators, such as bees and butterflies who allow for plant reproduction by transferring pollen.

The event featured an information tent hosted by the Department of Agriculture where people could learn about pollinators as well as listen to talks on pollinators every other hour. “We’re finding out that pollinators are really good for our environment. Good for our gardens and good for us,” said Chair of Premier Plants, Vickie Longosz, who works with All Hallow’s Guild, the group of stewards who run the Cathedral’s gardens.

The Guild also runs Flower Mart, which began in 1939. “It all started on the Cathedral steps. We used to [sell] flowers just on the steps as a little fundraiser,” said Longosz, who has been involved with the Cathedral since her kids attended the Cathedral’s schools. Flower Mart has surely expanded since then, now offering over 100 varieties of perennials and over 70 varieties of herbs. The festival is a major fundraiser for the Cathedral. In fact, by 2 p.m. on the first day, enough money was raised by All Hallow’s Guild to break even. The rest was profit, used by the Guild for tending to the Cathedral’s expansive grounds.

The vendors at Flower Mart didn’t disappoint; from pottery to candles, clothing, potpourri, jewelry, and baked goods, just walking through the dozens of vendors was worth my while. The booths ranged from the front of the Cathedral and down the side towards the back, where there was a kids fair including games, rides, and bouncy houses. Some of the more unique attractions included rides on the antique carousel (dating back to around 1890!) and the 300-step tower climb for an aerial view of DC.

The Flower Mart offers both traditional fair food like hot dogs, funnel cake and soft-serve ice cream, as well as tacos and barbeque. I feasted on a fish taco from the food truck of Glover Park’s Surfside, just in time to learn that Surfside is coming to Tenleytown soon!

Last, but certainly not least, volunteers are the heart and soul of the Flower Mart. It requires almost 500 volunteers to make all of the elements of the festival possible. Many are affiliated with the Cathedral’s schools. “That’s what the Flower Mart does for us. It sort of keeps us together. My kids are all graduated. And I still have this little network, which is nice,” said Longosz. After learning more about the original Flower Mart, it’s incredible to see how this event had evolved to be so important to the community.