• Laurel Contributor

Dahlia Fest. Simply the Best.

by Jenny King

Growers everywhere are anxiously awaiting the Ninth Annual Dahlia Festival, on Saturday, September 7. This spectacular event benefits the Highlands Historical Society. Held from 1:00 to 4:00 P.M. at the Highlands Rec Park, there are practically as many entry categories as there are species and subspecies of this historic flower.

Last year’s festival found 43 exhibitors who entered 277 flowers that delighted around 200 people. Dinner plate-sized dahlias in stunning reds and yellows, Pom Poms, Water Lilys, balls and orchids, in every shade under the sun, were just some of the types of dahlias that local growers proudly shared with the community. Judges awarded Best of Show to Clyde Howell for his singularly stunning Pom Pom. Forty-eight blue ribbons were awarded and many more second place, third place, and honorable mention ribbons were also given.

According to The American Dahlia Society, dahlias are among the most beloved flowers in our gardens. Not only do they come in an astounding range of forms and colors, their blooming period is one of the longest: They start blooming in June and continue in flower until first frost. That longevity, and the dahlia’s ease of care, have given the dahlia the accolades it so richly deserves. What is notable here is the fact that all these hybridized varieties were developed primarily from one or two wild species during the past 200 years.

This is not a professional show, but there is nothing amateurish about what you’ll witness. Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor has proclaimed the week, Dahlia Week, and for this year’s event, keynote speakers will be Canty Worley and Sonya Carpenter, both well known in our area for their vast knowledge of local flora. Judging is done by Garden Club members and the winner will be featured in The Highlands Historical Society literature.

This may not be the most flamboyant fund-raiser in town, but it’s definitely the most colorful. For more information on how to enter your prize-worthy dahlias, contact the festival chair, Kim Daugherty at gatorsinparadise@gmail.com.

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