Apr. 6—After a one-year absence from the local calendar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dalton Flower Show will return later this month, and everyone — from neophytes to veterans — is invited to showcase their creativity.
"It's free to enter, and anyone in the North Georgia area is welcome," said Brelinda Bolles, an organizer for the flower show. "We invite everyone to enter, or even just to view (this) really artistic work."
"We have a novice division for first-timers and a youth division, because we want to encourage whole families to do this together," said Julie Dyer, another of the show's organizers. "It's necessary to the human psyche to be creative, and this is creative art (on which) people work really hard."
During this pandemic, many Americans devoted more attention to home and gardening, and this show is an opportunity to "share that with (others)," said Dyer, senior program supervisor for the Dalton-Whitfield Senior Center, which has been a co-sponsor of the flower show since its inception nearly a decade ago. "People have invested a lot of time, money, and effort, (so) why not capitalize on that?"
This area "has a lot of good gardeners, and they like to show off their horticulture specimens," Bolles said. "There are always so many creative designs, too, and this is another way to show them off."
The show will open to the public for viewing at the Mack Gaston Community Center from 1 to 6 p.m. on Friday, April 23, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 24. Those entering horticulture are asked to bring those specimens from 3 to 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 22, while design arrangements are due 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Friday, April 23, before judging begins at 10 a.m.
Same-day registration will be accepted, but those planning to enter are asked to contact Bolles at (706) 226-2154 or BrelindaBolles@gmail.com or Dyer at (706) 277-5178 or Jdyer@daltonga.gov as soon as possible so they can begin planning the setup and arrangement of the show.
The horticulture entries, for example, "can (be) really large sometimes," Dyer said. "It takes more time to physically set those up."
The show has two divisions, design and horticulture. The former includes various centerpieces, buffet arrangements, the novice category for those who have never won a blue ribbon, and the youth category for those ages 6-18, among others, while the latter encompasses blooming and non-blooming potted plants, dish gardens, annuals and perennials, cut flowers, herbs, vines and shrubs, trees and "any worthy specimen."
Those categories are divided into classes, with ribbons awarded by judges. More details can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/DaltonFlowerShow/, and fresh vegetable seeds will be given to participants and visitors.
The flower show "is always unique and really beautiful," Dyer said. "I have such an appreciation for it."
During this year's show, Bolles will turn her thoughts to a pair of longtime participants, Barbara McCoy and Nancy Strain, both of whom died in recent years but were regular award winners at the show, she said. This year's effort is "in memory of them."
Originally held at the senior center, "we outgrew that," and the show moved to the Mack Gaston Community Center after a few years at the Creative Arts Guild, Dyer said. "It's always been a neighborhood kind of show, but we have accredited judges, and they provide helpful notes, so it can be a learning experience."
Organizers plan to sell raffle tickets at the show, as well, for those who "want to support us," she said. "You won't need to be present to win" prizes from several local sponsors.
Due to the pandemic, temperatures of visitors will be taken, "we're asking everyone to wear a mask, and you'll go in one end and out the other," Dyer said. "It's like going to a museum."
"We are using all safety precautions to make it safe," Bolles said. "We're doing everything we can, and I think it will be all right."
For Dyer, the flower show provides a valuable life lesson.
"It's a chance to live in the moment and catch everything at its best," she said. "It teaches about the cycle of life and to appreciate the moment, because the blooms don't last, do they?"