The 75th anniversary of the once annual event has returned to Carstairs Curling Rink with a variety of winners named
CAR STAIRS — Talented gardeners, artisans of all persuasions, as well as cooking enthusiasts had the opportunity last week to show off their skills to the community for the first time in more than two years.
After being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to uncertainty over pandemic restrictions, the Carstairs Horticultural and Craft Show has finally made a comeback.
“Our last show was in 2019,” said Cathy Haider, chair of the Carstairs Horticultural and Craft Show Committee, who is also the chief executive of the Carstairs & District Agricultural Society board.
“Honestly, we’re rusty,” Haider candidly told the Albertan in a phone interview when asked how the organization of the event felt again.
“There are so many issues we have to deal with,” she said, citing supplies and expenses as examples. “Volunteers are not really all ready to come out and help. Costs of things; our budget is, you know, amplified. We had our challenges for sure.”
Still, despite the hurdles organizers had to overcome, Haider said there was no shortage of excitement either.
“It’s a wonderful thing that we provide to our community,” she said, adding that some people come from a wide area from Calgary to Olds.
“The enthusiasm we see, it’s extremely gratifying.”
And this year’s return of the event, which began in 1945 as a competitive showcase showcasing floral varieties, offered an all-new week-long format that ran Monday through Saturday at the Carstairs curling rink. Entries were received throughout the week and judged on Friday, while members of the public were invited to view submissions on Saturday, followed by the awards ceremony later in the afternoon.
“For years past, we’ve tried to do the show in one day,” Haider said. “It was just way too much and way too much pressure. And so this year was quite different.
Among the many categories were floral contests ranging from gladioli and dahlias to marigolds, petunias and many more. The fruits and vegetables category included a variety of subcategories ranging from potatoes and carrots to cucumbers, tomatoes and many more.
Baked goods included different types of bread as well as staples such as cinnamon rolls, muffins, and cookies.
Handicrafts were divided into many sub-categories such as knitting, crocheting, dressmaking, tailoring and quilting, while hobby crafts included ceramic and woodworking entries as well as dolls and holiday decorations.
Works included entries in oil and watercolor painting as well as pencil drawings and pastels, among others. Photographic submissions had categories such as action shots, landscapes, wildlife, portraits, architectural and atmospheric effects like sunrises or sunsets, black and white tonal work, and even photos taken with a smart phone.
There were also junior exhibitors showcasing flowers, vegetables, baked goods, crafts and hobbies, artwork as well as photography.
Judging was made courtesy of Alberta Horticultural Association Accredited Show Judges who offered constructive feedback to all entrants.
Origins as a flower show
“Originally, it was just a flower show. Then over the years it expanded to include vegetables and now it’s also arts, crafts and baking,” she said. “Our main goal is to kind of recognize all the horticulturists in our community, the avid gardeners, and there’s so much talent when it comes to the arts. So that’s what we seek to do: recognize those people in our community. »
In the absence of the pandemic, this year would have been the 77th annual show. But because of the two cancellations, the event was celebrated as a milestone 75th anniversary.
This meant including a special 75th anniversary heritage category.
“It’s a tradition,” she says. “On birthdays, they offer special categories.”
The committee also decided to amplify the Canadian Garden Council’s proclamation of 2022 as the Year of the Garden. According to the official website of the Canadian Garden Council, passion for gardening has reached new heights during the pandemic, with nearly 83% of Canadian households maintaining some form of garden in 2021.
“We thought the Year of the Garden was a great thing to promote,” Haider said, adding that the committee had successfully applied to become a Friend of the Garden Year, allowing them to use the digital assets of the latter on promotional material.
“We have created four categories especially for the Year of the Garden,” she added.
Over the past two years, the committee has met and gone through early event planning motions booking judges and facilities, but ended up erring on the side of caution and cancellation, a she declared.
“We didn’t feel comfortable,” she said.
Plans to offer some sort of replacement event for the past two years have also not materialized.
“We thought about doing educational sessions. We were impatient, but we couldn’t find anyone to handle it,” she said. “So there wasn’t much activity for our committee.”
But they weren’t ready to throw in the towel a third time in a row and remain fully committed to keeping the show alive.
“These shows are starting to drop…many have closed over the years,” she said. “We are one of the few remaining.”
And despite the general downward trend in these types of events, interest in the Carstairs Horticulture and Crafts Show seems to remain relatively buoyant.
In 2019, 300 entrants submitted about 1,000 applications, Haider said.
“When I tell other show organizers, they’re just amazed,” she said.
Asked what organizers expected in the days leading up to the public viewing of the show, she replied, “This year, we have no idea. The rumor on the street is through the pandemic, there’s only a limited amount of crafting and all those things they’ve been working on that they could give away. So we could end up with a huge volume – more than we can handle, and we’re trying to plan for that. »
Ultimately, the 2022 Carstairs Horticultural and Craft Show attracted less than 100 adult and junior entrants who submitted a combined total of nearly 600 entries. About 170 people passed through the doors on Saturday August 20 to discover the exhibition.
Although nowhere near the 1,000 entries submitted in 2019, Haider said those in attendance offered positive feedback, with many attendees expressing keen interest in another opportunity to return next year.
- Amelia Warden, 5 and under Best in Show;
- Abbey Lefebvre, High Points Junior Bakery;
- Abbey Leedholm, Junior High Points Hobbycrafts and Artwork Junior High Points in Show;
- Nikolas Roy/Amy Dyer, Junior Highlight Flowers;
- Lincoln Steinart, Junior High Points Vegetables;
- Quinn Stoesser, High Points Flowers Junior Finalist;
- Quinn Stoesser/Abby Stoesser, High Points Vegetables Junior Finalist;
- Scarlett Madore, Junior High Points Handicrafts, Junior Runner-up High Points Hobby Crafts and Artwork, Junior Best in Show Artwork and Junior People’s Choice Award;
- Reece Lefebvre, High Points Baking Junior Vice-Champion and High Points Photography Junior Vice-Champion;
- Marlana Dyer/Avery Madore, High Points Handicrafts Junior Finalist;
- Abbey Stoesser, Junior Best in Show Photography and Junior High Points Photography;
- Amy Dyer, Junior Best in Show Fairy Garden;
- Avery Madore, “Best 75th Birthday Posters – Junior”;
- Hunter Madore, Junior Best in Show Baking;
- James Dyer, Junior Best in Show Arrangement of Sunflowers;
- Nikolas Roy, Junior Best in Show Hobby Crafts;
- Angeleah Couch, Garden Year Celebration Garden Photo.
- Tracy Colosino, High Points in Show, High Points Flowers, High Points Photography, High Points Vegetable and Fruit, runner-up High Points Baking and Preserves, runner-up High Points Hobbycraft and Artwork, Best 75th Anniversary Decorated Cake, Best in Show Baking , Best in Show Fairy Garden, Best in Show Rose and Year Of the Garden Red Flower;
- Stacey Girletz, High Points Baking and Preserves;
- Frances Burnham, High Points Photography finalist;
- Melissa Madore, High Points Handicrafts finalist;
- Tanya Lefebvre, High Points Vegetables and Fruit finalist;
- Lyndon Raugust, Best Exhibition Photography;
- Lynn Bessey, Best in Show Woodworking and People’s Choice;
- Marlene Steinart, High Points Handicrafts, Best in Show Crochet Article and Best in Show Knitted Article;
- Mary Jane Davies, High Points Flowers, Best in Show Dahlia, Best in Show Gladiola and Best in Show Vegetable Collection finalist;
- Pam Montgomery, best artwork of the exhibition;
- Walter Steinart, Best in Show Hobby Crafts and High Points Hobby Crafts and Artwork;
- Yvette Wasyliw, Best in Show Crafts;
- Andrea Suais, best quilt of the exhibition;
- Val Carleton, Year of the Garden Celebration Photo of the garden.