Who’s got the greenest thumb in Baxter County? – Baxter Bulletin
Who’s got the greenest thumb in Baxter County? That question should be answered Wednesday evening when the horticulture exhibits at the Baxter County Fair are judged and the Best in Show awards are handed down.
What leads up to that are home gardeners toiling over their plants throughout the year to produce the best cactus, the best ornamental corn, the prettiest flower and the biggest gourd.
Then, proud plant parents of all ages bring their living masterpieces to the educational building at the Baxter County Fairgrounds, into the educational building and place them before members of the Baxter County Master Gardeners.
The master gardeners have been helping organize and run the horticulture exhibit and competition at the fair for more than 20 years. They know the rules, they know where to look for information to identify plants.
They’re the ones who help exhibitors enter their plants. Everything from tiny peppers to 15-foot sorghum stalks will find a place to be displayed, and then judged. There are so many categories, no one knows for sure exactly how many there are.
“Gardening is a great family activity and we are now really encouraging more children to get involved,” said master gardener Priscilla Jamnicky. “If you pick up an activity as a young child, one that involves your family having fun, you’re more likely to stick with it throughout your life.”
As fair goers wander through the exhibit, master gardeners talk to them, answer questions and do their best to share their passion for growing things to encourage others to do the same.
Don’t be fooled though, there’s more going on than just just education and teaching people to grow their own food. This is a competition and the prize is bragging rights.
“Think about, if you plant something in the ground and tend it, care for it, nurture it over the course of months, you’re going to be invested in it,” Jamnicky said. “So yes, people want to see a blue ribbon next to their entry when the judging is done.”
A blue ribbon doesn’t mean someone’s plant came in “first place” though. It means that the entry met certain judging criteria and is awarded a blue-ribbon prize, meaning the plant met the highest standard applied to its particular category.
To determine, say, who grew the top okra in Baxter County this year, you have to look for the “best in show” award winners. While blue ribbons signify an excellent plant, best in show means yours is the best of the blue-ribbon winners.
“Some people take this pretty seriously. It’s part of their culture and heritage to grow things,” said Jamnicky. “They can be pretty particular about their plants.”
But for others, growing things is a happy hobby that can provide beautiful things to look at or good food to eat.
“The overall message we try get out through this exhibit is that gardening is a fun activity that can be enjoyed by anyone,” Jamnicky said. “We want to encourage people to garden and to grow things.”
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