2017 Steveston Salmon Festival: Green thumbs compete in 'oasis'

A bit of old-school competition comes to the Steveston Salmon Festival every year that attracts those with major “green thumbs.”

The annual Horticulture Show will present the best garden-grown examples of flowers and produce in the Net Shed building (indoor tennis courts) that becomes a veritable “oasis,” said Beverly Percival Smith, who has been the show’s coordinator of the past four years.

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“It’s the gardeners themselves,” Percival Smith said. “They are people who love what they do and are enthusiastic about what they bring.”

Each year, about 50 or so keen growers enter the contest that can have up to as many as 132 categories, depending on what is entered.

“People don’t always bring in everything to fill up each category,” she said. “There used to be a lot more, before people started to move out of their houses with yards and into apartments in towers.

“So, it is becoming a smaller and smaller pool of people taking part. But I’ve been trying to grow things by giving people information this year about next year’s competition.”

However, this year is expected to create more excitement than usual because the Richmond Gardening Club is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

“They are going to have special table to promote themselves...,” Percival Smith said.

The fact the horticulture show offers an out-of-the-way calming break from the rest of the festivities make it an almost hidden gem on July 1.

“People kind of wander in from the Salmon Festival which is loud and exciting and come into our little oasis and ask, ‘What is this?’ because they don’t really know what it is,” Percival Smith said. “Mainly, they want to know if things are for sale. And none of it is.”

But most remain intrigued about the competition, which is professionally judged.

“Two judges are hired who are anonymous. One specializes in roses, only. So that person knows exactly what they are looking at.” Judging takes place on July 1 from 10 a.m. until noon. Then the show is open to the public until 5 p.m.

“The gardeners wake up very early in the morning and have to get their entries in by 8 a.m. They come in with their raw flowers, vegetables and fruit, then start creating their displays. Then no one is allowed to touch anything once done.

“Some people have trouble resisting, because if they see something fluffy, they want to touch it, or smell it.  And many times we don’t get the entries until the day before because they want to bring the very best at the very best of its life.”

festival map
2017 Salmon Festival map

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