Before diving into a summary of the 2023 Crawford County Fair flower show, there was an event that really impacted me. It was the showmen of showmen contest. Oh, my, talk about pressure and sweat, this was definitely all that.

First off, 10 young contestants, who had already won the top award in their respective animal showmanship class, came to the arena. They were required to show nine critters “strutting their stuff,” never their own animal. That would have sent me into a ballistic fit. Not these young ones.

Chicken champs strutted in with horses, alpacas, goats, dairy beef cattle and all the rest. Compare some of the horses and beef cattle to the youth and there is a gigantic advantage for throwing your weight around. They were eyeball to eyeball with llamas, horses and beef cattle.

The goats needed to eat first (my thought) so they would behave. The pigs would not travel clockwise, though prodded, but went every which way including between legs. Frightful. The participants held up so well.

In the second Crawford County Fair flower show, Ohio Association of Garden Clubs' judge Lea Ewing goes over the first place daylilies in an effort to find the "Best of Show" winner. It was a miniature from Carissa Chester.

In the second Crawford County Fair flower show, Ohio Association of Garden Clubs’ judge Lea Ewing goes over the first place daylilies in an effort to find the “Best of Show” winner. It was a miniature from Carissa Chester.

And now for a gentler sport — flower growing and arranging.

“Mythology and Legends” was the overall two-day theme. The first show asked the question “Do you believe?” and had titles like goblins, gnomes, Big Foot and mermaids. The second show posed “Do you know the story?” and offered Phoenix, Medusa, fairies, ogre, cyclops and leprechaun. Toss in “Griffin” and “Zombie” and you have a wild flower show.

Our educational unit shared how the cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome paid tribute to their gods. These people loved flowers, grew them and even had florists — yes — designers who made flowers, collars, wreaths and garlands all day long. Folks wanted to be “in” with their gods for a lovely afterlife.

Judy Widman wins two Artistic Excellence awards

We thank Sue Stander of Norton’s and The Ohio Flower Girls Hannah Stuckey and Haley Fannin for tributes to “Flora, the Goddess of Flowers.”

Artistic Excellence award winner in both shows was Judy Widman with a unique 3-D framed spatial design. Katering Kountry Style and Norton’s donated awards.

Judge’s Choice awards went to June Gebhardt in the first show from Laipply Lawns; in the second show, Mary Lee Minor won the award from Flowers and Fancies.

Sweepstakes award in artistic arranging went to Judy Widman, and she was tied with Minor in the second show. Norton’s and Pickwick Place gave awards.

In horticulture the best potted plant by Melinda Hoffman won the Family, Farm and Home gift.

The best rose from Sandra Long was recognized by Ohio Flower Girls. The best annual flower from Sarah Laipply, a marigold, took the award from TSC; the best perennial, Mary Lee Minor, with a gift from fellow club member Susan Monroe Kalb. The best daylily entered by Carissa Chester was gifted by Center Street Meat Company. Sarah Laipply won the best herb with a gift from The Amish Vault while Witter Produce recognized Julie Rexroad’s collection of natives in bloom.

Mary Lee Minor won the horticulture sweepstakes with the most points in both shows, with Carmar Gardens and Oberlanders providing awards.

Visitors asked to pick the best design

Glenda Leuthold won both days as novice designer with awards from Amy Vaughn and Blossoms and Gifts from Galion.

Visitors were asked to choose the best design. Helen Guinther’s reflective and Julie Rexroad’s illuminary garnered gifts from Lulu’s Kitchen and Crossroads/Cooper’s Mill.

Flowers, potted annuals and fairy gardens done by Nuts About Nature Junior Gardeners had these results: Horticulture — Lucy Kocher, first show, Clady’s award and Lily Laipply, gifted by Julie Rexroad. Best designer, Jenna Filliator won an award from Scapes By Sarah.

This may not compare with the showmen of showmen contest which calls forth a whole different type of energy and bravery. For me there is a new respect for another aspect of the fair.

Mary Lee Minor is a member of the Earth, Wind and Flowers Garden Club, an accredited master gardener, a flower show judge for the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs and a former sixth grade teacher.

This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: A salute to the winners of the Crawford County Fair flower show

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