By Barbara Ott, Butte County Master Gardener, May 20, 2016.
Gridley hosts the Butte Country Fair each August. The dates for this coming Fair are August 25 to August 28, 2016.
The Butte County Fair provides both individuals and organizations throughout Butte County with a venue in which to show off their unique products and skills. We can see the many facets of Butte County expressed through the various exhibits at the Fair, where agriculture, livestock, cooking, and gardening are primary categories of competition. Ribbons, plaques, and premiums are awarded in these categories.
The Flower Bowl building on the fairgrounds is a good example of friendly competition among gardeners. Each year the Adult Floriculture Department of the Fair presents one of the largest cut flower exhibits in the North Valley. In 2015, for example, this department featured more than 600 exhibits of cut flowers. And this number does not even include the other plant divisions represented at the Flower Bowl: in addition to Cut Flowers, the divisions include Flower Design; Container-Grown Flowering Plants; Container-Grown Foliage Plants; Hanging Plants; Cactus and Succulents; Herbs; Fairy Gardens; and Terrariums.
While individual gardeners and plant breeders are the primary contributors to many of these divisions, there are two specific areas where organizations compete. Local garden clubs and other organizations contribute displays to the Flower Bowl Booths, keyed to a distinct theme each year. For 2016 there will be entry fees for the plant divisions and booth division. Premiums will be paid to the top three winners in every division. In addition, there will be a new area outside of the Flower Bowl building comprised of four-foot by four-foot plots. Here, local garden clubs will be able to show off their own unique contributions and skills. There will be no fee attached to these new plots this year.
Amateur gardeners and floral designers are encouraged to enter in all of these divisions. Think about entering your most successful plants: maybe a favorite rose bloom or a wonderful outdoor container you have planted with an eye-catching combination of flowers and grasses. Have you made a fairy garden or a terrarium lately? Come show off at the fair. Let others see your accomplishments, and you might even place as a winner and get a premium.
More information about the specific Butte County Fair divisions and their requirements are outlined on the Fair's website, at Butte County Fair. This year the Fair Entry Book will be entirely online, simplifying the process of entering and paying entry fees.
Even if you don't enter an exhibit, come and experience the joys of horticulture at the Butte County Fair this summer!