2017 Flowers from the Garden Stamp Ceremony in South Dakota

 By Pete McClure

Two days after driving home to Iowa from Americover 2017 in Independence, OH, I made another road trip to Sioux Falls, SD for a first day ceremony.

The Flowers from the Garden Forever stamps were issued on Wednesday August 16, 2017 at the Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum in Sioux Falls. Since the ceremony was set for 4 pm, it was an easy day trip of 250 miles each way to get there and back.

Flower gardening is my other hobby, and since I'd never been to a ceremony in South Dakota, it was a "must do".

After crossing the Iowa - South Dakota border on I-29, the speed limit increased to 80 mph which, of course, meant traffic was now moving at over 90 mph. My old Honda Civic was challenged to keep up. As I approached Sioux Falls, I ran into very heavy rain which persisted throughout the stamp ceremony.

At the ceremony site, the event was outdoors in a tent. With umbrella in hand, I made my way out to the tent in a pouring rain. There were a few people already there. I chatted up a man who looked to be as old as me. He turned out to be Jeff Bigalke, father of Jay.

The ceremony started on time and had an audience of about 100 people. Most of the attendees were associated with the arboretum. My guess is that there were only about a dozen stamp collectors there. USPS Vice President Simon Storey dedicated the stamp. Artist Elizabeth Brandon, whose paintings were used for the stamps, spoke. South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard was also a speaker.

An autograph table was set up in the arboretum basement. All of the speakers signed. I think the governor and the stamp artist had the best time during the signing. My estimate of signed programs for this event that are in the "FDC world" is between 20 and 30. Most of the collectors only had one program. Jeff Bigalke, a collector from Sioux Falls, and I were the only ones who went through the line more than once. I could only get 5 programs as they did not have many extras.

So, if you have a signed program for this event it's rare.