They came armed with totes, trash bags, empty strollers and collapsible nylon wagons. They came with wish lists and whispers of their “unicorns,” whose Latin names sounded like incantations: adansonii, patriciae, obliqua. Some of them traveled by airplane to get here. Others, in moving trucks. Because one does not walk into the 42nd Annual International Aroid Society Show and Sale simply to browse.
Several years ago, the Aroid Society, like some of its rarest specimens, appeared to be dwindling. The hobby had an arcane, almost Victorian dustiness to it, akin to collecting stamps or coins.
But in the past two or three years, said Alex Bello, 33, the president of the International Aroid Society and the chairman of the event, attendance has spiked from around 500 people in a weekend to a few thousand. “It has been exorbitant, the amount of people we’ve been getting,” he said. “We’ve been pummeled.”