PEMBERVILLE - This year's fair flower show is literally a fair within a fair.
The "Kiddie Tractor Pull" category caught the imagination of several children. Bryce Miller of Pemberville used an antique metal toy tractor and wagon in International red, with the wagon filled with a wheat mass and three black eyed Susans.
Creativity blossoms throughout the 80th annual event, which invites visitors to "Picture Yourself at the Pemberville Fair."
The entries leap from "Amusement Rides" to "Concessions" and on to "Frog Jumping Contest," a design featuring the color green, and "Produce Exhibit," a design including fruit or vegetables, just to name a few.
There are 456 entries in all, which handily tops the tallies from the last two years - 441 in 2008 and 445 in 2007.
Included in that number are 86 arrangements, 13 of them junior entries.
Area gardeners also submitted 370 specimens for judging, of which 35 are by junior (youth) exhibitors.
Renee Wendt, who admitted to feeling both "nervous and stressed" in her first year as flower show chairperson, was thrilled with the result.
She happily held up a sheet of comments by the judges, who commended the Four Seasons Garden Club-based planning committee for an "excellent show" in which the "titles of classes carried out the show (theme) in a superior manner." They also noted with approval this year's "many junior entries of high quality."
Visitors, who began filing through the American Legion Building at 5 p.m. Wednesday, had to agree.
Winning "junior best of show" was Emma Read of Oregon for a pink and rose arrangement depicting a "Swine Scramble." She paired carnations, mini carnations and Queen Anne's lace with gorgeous evergreen, boxwood and yucca greenery. A small toy pig was perched two-thirds of the way up the arrangement which cleverly depicted swirling, vertical motion.
Pemberville's Megan Hoy opted for a bigger tractor and wagon in Allis Chalmers orange, a showpiece for her marigolds and Rose of Sharon.
Wendt, the chairperson, had nothing but praise for 2009 exhibitors in view of the overall dry summer.
"I didn't have good growing conditions, and I'm hearing that from some others - although not everyone," she said. "We had a dry spell so the flowers dried out, and didn't really take off after that."
"Some flowers like drought heat. I don't think I had any of those flowers," Wendt added with a smile of irony.
Nonetheless, she won the blue ribbon for her invitational door wreath, depicting the "Kiddie Parade" with a showy wreath in colorful orange and purple-blue flowers accented by a filmy lavender fabric bow edged in sparkly gold. The flowers formed a crescent on the wreath, rather than extending all the way around.
Trina Karns, Pember-ville, picked up two big awards. One was for the "Grand Parade" invitational wall niche. It featured a showy arrangement of white fuji mums, red carnations and blue salvia seemingly exploding out of the bell of a gold French horn that served as a vase.
Karns also earned the Indoor Grower Award for best container-grown exhibit for her flowering purple shamrock.
The Green Thumb Award for best cut flower went to Deb Krukemyer for her Knock Out Rose. She also won the judges' award of distinction for best horticultural exhibit for a showy lime green Annabelle hydrangea.
Shirley Poggemeyer's "Tug of War" entry in two containers won "senior best of show" arrangement. It featured rose-tipped cream carnations and lime green mums in double wooden pedestal vases.
The John Moore Award for creative design went to Barb Meyer of Pemberville for her "Amusement Rides," an arrangement showing motion. It featured felicitously named "tutti frutti" dahlias, which are pink-orange in color, and yucca greenery in a modern vase consisting of 11 ceramic tubes.
Teri Hansen, Pemberville, took home the blue ribbon for her invitational table. She met the "Concessions" theme with a fun picnic for two featuring popcorn. The red and white arrangement of Gerbera and Monte Casino daisies and red tulips was held in a red and white striped popcorn box "vase," with a pile of popped corn on a red plate forming its base. The small red checked fabric of the tablecloth and matching napkin rings set off the red plastic place settings.
Shannon Wright is show co-chairperson and Megan Hummel designed the educational exhibit, "Picture Pemberville Green," on the topic of recycling.