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Enter the Yuma County Fair's flower show
Before you know it, the “grand ol' fair” will be here. Mark April 2-7 on your calendar as Yuma County Fair week and begin thinking about what you can enter in the fair.
It's always fun to walk around and see the fair's exhibits, but it is even more fun when you have entries that are being judged. Participating in the fair kicks the excitement factor up several notches.
Although adults have many opportunities to participate in fair events, the fair also focuses on the children of Yuma. Whether it is sewing an apron, raising a lamb or creating a flower arrangement, projects in 4-H, FFA and in the open divisions of the fair offer many opportunities for children to shine. These fair projects teach children skills that will be helpful throughout their lives.
Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma encourages children in grades K-12 to enter home-grown plants, cut specimens and floral arrangements in the junior division of the flower show at the fair. The flower show's theme this year is “Cowboy Serenade,” and there are some great titles to spur the imaginations of young floral designers.
Superintendent Dalene Kelly described the junior titles. “We have three titles for regular-size arrangements: Silver Spurs, Roping on the Range and Bandanas and Cowboys. There are also three miniature arrangement titles. The maximum height of two of the mini arrangements is eight inches in all directions, and their titles are Branding Irons and Don't Fence Me In. The last miniature title, Bring in the Clowns, can only be five inches in any direction. We hope to see lots of cute floral designs from our Yuma kids.”
Juniors are divided into four groups: Group A — Grades K-2, Group B — Grades 2-5, Group C — Grades 6-8 and Group D — Grades 9-12. Each group is judged separately. All horticulture entries may be entered Monday, April 1, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Tuesday, April 2, from 7 to 9 a.m. All entries will be picked up on Sunday, April 7, 8 to 9 p.m. or Monday, April 8, 8 to 9 a.m.
Recently, local Girl Scout and Brownie members had a fun evening creating floral designs for the fair. With the help of their leaders and volunteers from Pecan Grove Garden Club and Yuma Garden Club, over 25 enthusiastic Scouts chose dried material supplied by The Farm and an interesting assortment of feathers and seed pods to create some outstanding flower arrangements. Unlike adults, who are often intimidated by the design process, these young ladies got to work and had two arrangements done in no time.
“I just love making something pretty,” one young Scout told me as she deftly placed dried flowers here and there in her vase. “My mommy says she will keep my arrangement forever,” she proudly stated, “once I get it back from the fair.”
For some of the Scouts, this event was their first attempt at arranging, while others were old hands and had participated in the event for several years. They all arranged with zeal as they merrily chatted with each other, showing off their multi-tasking skills.
Willene Calvert, president of Pecan Grove Garden Club and junior horticulture chairman of the fair's flower show, remarked, “I am so proud of the way these girls took on the new task of flower arranging with such enthusiasm. We taught them the basics of making a good arrangement, and they got to work and created the most precious arrangements. The best part about it was that they were not afraid to try something new.”
For those who may not be young but are still young-at-heart, the fair's flower show offers the same opportunity to try something new by creating a flower arrangement. There are many interesting design titles to choose from.
“Desert Surprise” is the title open to any adult who wishes to create a flower arrangement. For those who have never won a blue ribbon at a flower show, a second title, “Home on the Range,” is open to novice arrangers. For adults who enjoy creating miniature designs, three titles are offered: “You are my Sunshine” — 5 inches tall, “Running Free” — 8 inches and “Desert Sunrise” — 8 inches. You don't have to be a garden club member to enter. Whether you are a novice or a veteran arranger, creating floral designs for the fair is great fun. Give it a try!
When asked about creating a flower arrangement for the fair, Mary Lou Milstead, Yuma Garden Club member, explained, “Conditioning is very important. Cut your plant material the evening before you will be arranging. Place the plants in a deep bucket full of water and let them stand in a cool place overnight. When you are ready to arrange, re-cut the stems to allow more water to be absorbed. Remember that the arrangement will be on display for a week at the fair, and the tin building where the flower show is held gets pretty warm. Conditioning helps your arrangement stay fresh-looking longer.”
“Be sure you don't use softened water to soak your plant material. It is too salty. Also, add a packet of plant preservative to the water which will help keep the flowers fresh longer,” Jane Buck, chairman of Yuma Garden Club's floral design group, added.
Juniors and adults can also enter their favorite potted plants and cut specimens in the horticulture division.
“When you fill out your horticulture entry tags, it's good to have the plant's common name and botanical name written on the tag. If two plants or cut specimens are tied for a ribbon, the one with both names will earn a higher score. Tags can be picked up at the fair office early and filled out at home, or you can fill the tags out when you enter your plants at the flower show. Just be sure to bring a paper with the common and botanical names for each entry so you can write them on your tags. If you have a lot of entries, you might want to use address labels so you don't have to write your name and address on each tag,” Willene Calvert, junior horticulture chairman, said.
For a look at the complete horticulture division, visit the fair office at the fairgrounds and pick up a copy of this year's fair schedule. Pages 47-48 describe all horticulture entries.
The opportunity to create a floral design that has never been seen before is an exciting prospect and one that keeps designers entering flower arrangements year after year. Whether you are young or young-at-heart, Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma invites you to enter their flower show and experience the great fun that comes from participating in the Yuma County Fair.
Karen Bowen is a master gardener and member of Yuma Garden Club. This column is sponsored by the Federated Garden Clubs of Yuma.