It was almost showtime, and Chris McCormick was sweating.
“We’re going to need to move this rock and it’s going to take everybody,” he said, indicating an orange, oval boulder about the size of a golden retriever.
The rock was among almost 5 tons of gravel and stone he had hauled into James Brown Arena on Friday – ranging from mere pebbles to a 900-pound behemoth artistically placed by a forklift – to produce a garden pond display for his business, Paradise Water Features.
“We only got about 35 minutes to get this done,” McCormick said, scrambling to reposition rocks and shovel gravel while the minutes ticked away.
McCormick and his crew of four had been working all day Friday to meet a 1 p.m. deadline for vendors to complete setting up their displays at the seventh annual Augusta Home and Garden Show. About 150 vendors in all were setting up Thursday and Friday, said show manager Bonnie Myers, whose job it was to enforce the deadline.
Friday’s sudden storms created a few last-minute complications, but Myers wasn’t worried about being ready for the public when the doors opened at 2 p.m.
“Whenever we have inclement weather, it gets a little flexy,” she said. “I just had one vendor call to say they were sitting in the middle of a tornado, so they were going to be a little late.”
Vendor booths covered a wide array of products and services, from granite countertops, windows and kitchen cabinets to playground sets, grills, wine, knives and exercise equipment.
Most vendors were just cleaning or attending to last-minute touches. However, Steve Bear of Georgia Door and Gate had already put in more than 10 hours of work by noon and still had a way to go on his display, which featured a combination roll-up door and window system.
“I hope I’m going to make it,” said Bear, of Midville, Ga., who was at the show for his second year. “I just found out I’m missing some screws.”
Back at the Paradise Water Features display, McCormick had rounded up some beefy help to reposition his rock, and water was beginning to fill the pool. But his work wasn’t finished.
“I’m going to make it, but I need to put in a pump over here,” he said.
McCormick’s brother finished his own water feature that morning. The two brothers have dueling displays and different businesses.
Jay McCormick, of McCormick Landscaping, said he had hauled in 8 tons of materials for his pond, which featured a couple of giant urn-shaped fountains.
“I loaned him some of my guys to help,” said Jay McCormick, observing his sibling’s 11th-hour efforts to finish. “Chris is running a little behind.”