The Merritt Huntington Memorial Symposium
– History –

The Merritt Huntington Memorial Symposium began in 2005 when some members of the Tidewater Orchid Society (TOS), Peninsula Orchid Society (POS), and Virginia Orchid Society (VOS) formed a committee to explore the possibility of planning a one day orchid symposium in the Mid-Atlantic area. These orchid enthusiasts had worked together to plan the very successful 2000 Eastern Orchid Congress (EOC) in Williamsburg, VA. The committee asked Merritt Huntington to advise them and he was very excited about the endeavor. Sadly, his untimely death came early in 2005, but the committee decided to move forward and name the event in his memory. The Merritt Huntington Memorial Symposium organizing committee began as "an alliance of Merritt's Orchid Friends in Virginia".

The Merritt Huntington Memorial Symposium started as a one day affair with three speakers, a panel discussion, AOS judging, lunch and orchid vendors and was held on November 12th, 2005. It has since grown to a two day affair with a reception, speakers, and vendors on Friday evening and a full day of speakers, panel discussions, AOS judging, vendors, and lunch on Saturday. For the first three years, it was held in Williamsburg, VA. Then in 2008, the symposium was moved to Virginia Beach, VA. The event averages 75 to 100 attendees per day. By keeping the event small and easy to plan, the committee has been able to make the symposium very personal and friendly. The speakers, vendors, and attendees are all able to get to know one another and share their love and knowledge of orchids.

The American Orchid Society (AOS) "discovered" the symposium in 2007 and came on board to sponsor three speakers at our 2008 event in Virginia Beach. In 2009 the symposium moved to the Cavalier Hotel and the AOS again sponsored speakers. Then in 2010, the symposium hosted the AOS Fall Members Meeting, October 27th - 31st, 2010, at the Cavalier Oceanfront Hotel. This was an international event with speakers from France, Germany, and all across the US.

We held our regular 2011, 2012, and 2013 events at the Cavalier Hotel. It was a great location, until they decided to demolish and rebuild. So in 2014, we moved back to Williamsburg to host the 10th annual symposium at the Holiday Inn Patriot. What a wonderful anniversary. We took a hiatus in 2015 and returned to Williamsburg to Host our 11th event in 2016. After taking another year off in 2017, we are hosting the 2018 Event at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center, November 2nd and 3rd. Hope to see you there!

Merritt Huntington


Merritt was first and foremost a friend to all Orchid hobbyists. His accomplishments were many and varied within the Orchid Community. He was a member of at least ten Orchid Societies up and down the East Coast, and he was in great demand as a speaker and as an auctioneer. Merritt loved and excelled at these events due to his vast knowledge of Orchids and his outgoing personality. In addition to his involvement with local societies, Merritt held many national offices within the American Orchid Society, including President. In the 50 years he was affiliated with the AOS he held every office that was available and always served with distinction. He was the "straw hat" auctioneer for the AOS trustees meetings for many years. He earned two Gold Medals from the AOS, and the Huntington Award for the Most Outstanding FCC of the year is named in his honor. Merritt was also a senior judge in the Washington Judging center, and was well respected for his knowledge of Orchids. He was the proprietor of Kensington Orchids for many years until his retirement in 2002. Merritt was a force in the Eastern Orchid Congress and twice received their Silver medal for outstanding service. With the demise of the EOC in 2002, several of Merritt's Virginia friends that had been involved with the last EOC in Williamsburg in 2000, requested his assistance to start a speaker's day or symposium that could be used to fill the void left by the demise of the EOC. As usual, he was very enthusiastic about helping get the event off the ground, but unfortunately his untimely death came before the first Symposium was held in November 2005. It is with heartfelf gratitude for all that he did that our Symposium is named in his memory.

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