PORTLAND — Earl Allen of Scarborough studied the solar panel display and listened to Ted Hellier, owner of Hammersaw Solar, make his pitch Saturday.

Allen described himself as a serious shopper for products that would help lower his home energy costs.

“I have a big house and a $2,000-a-winter oil bill,” Allen said.

Allen was one of thousands of people who are expected to show up at the Maine Home, Remodeling and Garden Show, a two-day event that continues today at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. The show, in its 22nd year, has grown steadily in the past few years, which both exhibitors and organizers said reflects an economy on the mend.

Karla Flicker, one of the organizers, said attendance has increased by about 500 people annually during the past two years, reaching 7,500 last year; and the 180-booth exhibit space quickly sells out.

“We max out of everything. Our goal is to find more creative space,” Flicker said.

Vendors said the show affects business positively. John Burdick of Your Kitchen Imagined in Scarborough said last year he reeled in five kitchen remodeling projects from the show. Burdick said he feels even more optimistic this year, based on the overwhelming response to a show he attended in Wilmington, Mass., last weekend.

“I think the economy is making a turn, and this will show itself in Portland,” said Burdick.

The show features a wide mix of exhibitors and demonstrations: lamp shade makers, jewelers, cooking utensil vendors, home remodeling contractors, landscapers, greenhouse operators, hot tub retailers and chiropractors. It draws both serious buyers and Mainers looking for a midwinter change of pace.

“We just wanted to get out with my brother and wife visiting from Madawaska,” said Sue Corbett, of South Portland.

Joan and Laddie Deemer of Falmouth, who ran into three neighbors at the show, were shopping for window replacements. They said they couldn’t pass up The Original One Step Mud Mat demonstrations by Frank Nagy of Dodge City, Kan.

Nagy stepped from a tray of mud onto his special microfiber mat and onto a fresh sheet of white paper, with not a muddy footprint in sight.

The Deemers were sold.

“We have dogs and grandkids and we are messy,” Joan Deemer said.

The show continues from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Tickets cost $8 for adults, $6 for those 65 and older and $5 for children ages 6 to 16, and are free for those under age 6.


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