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Debbie Arrington, McClatchy Newspapers, Published January 29 2011

Homeowners can glean ideas at Fargodome Feb. 25-27

Wandering the aisles at a home show, it’s easy to daydream: that new kitchen, new bathroom, new patio.

And when the Red River Valley Home and Garden Show takes over the Fargodome Feb. 25-27, there will certainly be people eyeing all things new.

But with belt-tightening now a way of life, we’ve gotten a lot more practical at home shows. Now, we want to know how.

Show-goers gravitate to the demonstrations, looking for ways to tackle common household problems without spending a lot. Ears perk up at words like “save,” “solve” and “budget.”

Considered California’s largest three-day home-and-garden show, the Northern California Home & Landscape Expo, held annually in January, takes a measurement of the DIY pulse. Last year, more than 37,000 people attended the Sacramento show.

What’s on our to-do list for 2011?

“People are looking to repair, restore or update,” said Stefani Norville of Gary Brown Enterprises, the Sacramento show’s organizer. “It’s not all about new. They want smaller enhancements or repairs that their homes may need so they can stay longer in that home and enjoy it.”

Among this year’s highlights is the landscape showcase. In three 1,000-square-foot displays, local designers explore the theme “Haven at Home.”

The new Karden’s Corner, created by Sacramento landscape designer Michael Glassman and author Lisa Ely, features a kid-friendly display. It includes a “dream school garden” contest with four local finalists. The winner, as voted by show-goers, will see the garden installed at his or her school.

“They’re all quite amazing and different,” Glassman said of the finalists. “All you have to do is look at the designs and you get excited.”

“We wanted to figure out a way to give back to the community and spark interest in how much fun gardening can be,” Ely said. “Since there is a school in every garden, we figured this was a great way to get kids, teachers and families to start thinking about the possibilities.”

The expo’s website – www.homeandlandscapeexpo.com – has a detailed list of presentations, ranging from “All About Fencing” and “Achieving Maximum Value for Remodeling Dollars” to “Solar Makes Cents” and “Vermicomposting and the Virtues of Worm Castings.”

It’s all part of the expo’s appeal.