Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

YEAR-ROUND GARDNER: Consider your best for county fair entry

by Barbara Bates Colorado Master Gardener - Published: June 17, 2013

The 2013 El Paso County Fair is right around the corner! This year the fair is runs from July 20 to July 27. If you grow flowers, fruits, vegetables or herbs in your home garden, consider entering something in the Open Class Horticulture Competition for adults and youth held on July 21.

Why should you enter the El Paso County Fair?

- To keep our agricultural heritage alive in El Paso County.

- To dazzle fair attendees with the beauty and bounty from your garden.

- To share a favorite flower or super-sized vegetable.

- To show off your gardening skills and accomplishments, as well as your artistic talents

- To inspire others to grow!

- To possibly win prize money and ribbons.

You do not have to be an over-the-top gardener or a farmer to enter the competition. Every year there are people who submit one or two entries. It might be a favorite rose, a fragrant bunch of chocolate mint, a perfect summer squash or a striking lily. Any of these might win a ribbon and some bragging rights for you.

What: There are two divisions in the horticulture competition. Division I is floriculture, including cut flowers, potted blooming plants, potted foliage plants, succulents, cacti and bonsai. Cut flowers include annuals, perennials, biennials, roses and plants that grow from bulbs, corms and tubers, such as dahlias and lilies. There are several categories of floral arrangements open to competition, including "Western Heritage," "Fountain of Fireworks" and "Best Things Come in Small Packages."

Division II is vegetables, herbs and fruits. This includes a wide variety of vegetables, monster vegetables and berries, potted and garden grown herbs. Even if your prize vegetable doesn't fit in any of the defined categories, it will fit in the "any other vegetable" class.

There are adult, youth and combined ages competitions. Presentation is a very important aspect of competition, so be sure to read, and then re-read, the Horticulture Premium list to be sure you are displaying the right way.

How to enter: Inspect your garden and your windowsills for the very best flowers, fruits and plants that you have grown. Most flowers, fruits, vegetables, houseplants and herbs are eligible. Refer to the El Paso County Fair Premium List for specific division and classes. The Premium List is available online at www.elpasocountyfair.com/Documents/Horticulture%20Premium%20List.pdf or you can pick one up at the Colorado State University Extension office at 305 S. Union Blvd. Entry forms are included in the Premium List.

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When you have questions, call the Master Gardener Volunteer Help Desk at 520-7684 or email CSUmg2@el pasoco.com. Volunteers are available 9 a.m.-noon Monday through Friday.

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