By JOSHUA THOMAS
FONDA — The Canajoharie-Fort Plain Garden Club took home two sweepstakes awards during the 171st Fonda Fair, winning the most first prize ribbons in both the design and horticulture categories.
The local club annually competes against the Kingsboro Garden Club, with both clubs displaying their work starting at 7 a.m. Monday. Judging began this year at 1 p.m., with a panel of six federated judges — four certified judges and two in training — handing out prizes in horticulture, design, education and youth categories.
The Canajoharie-Fort Plain Garden Club were presented three first place ribbons in the design category, to Kingsboro Garden Club’s two, and 21 first place ribbons in the horticulture category, compared to Kingsboro’s 17, entitling them to both sweepstakes awards.
Although the Canajoharie-Fort Plain Garden Club has been displaying their work at the Fonda Fair for over 50 years, they were unable to participate last year because of the delayed fair opening, due to flooding. They had judges scheduled to arrive Monday, and couldn’t get them to reschedule on such short notice, and the club was forced to withdraw from the show.
There was a silver lining, however, as the club kept the same schedule and presented the same themes this year, meaning that they were afforded a full year of practice in perfecting their 2012 displays.
Zoller Floral Hall Superinten-dent Shirley Bouck said that the clubs were missed last year. “Open class has lovely things, but I can’t compare to the design and education section, and the work they put into it.” She noted that the people who display in open class are often inspired by what the two clubs do each year, and the inspiration shows in the work done in bouquet and arrangement classes, for which attendance numbers have gone up in the last couple of years.
The clubs’ design work is focused on balance and symmetry, and it “gets the average person interested” in bringing those techniques to their work, Bouck explained.
“The design and education parts really add a lot to the building,” added Andrea Bouck, who explained, “We didn’t have them last year, so we took our stuff and tried to spread it out to fill the building. We all said we thought it looked pretty good last year, but to come back and see what it’s like with them here, there’s really no comparison.”
Shirley noted that she’s proud to be superintendent of a building containing such lovely displays each year, and annually looks forward to keeping her family’s legacy alive at the Zoller Floral Hall (named for her family). Shirley’s grandfather was president of the fair association for about 30 years before he passed away, she said, and her grandmother looked after the building as superintendent — not an easy task, as the superintendent must be present for 12 hours each day that the fair is open. When her grandmother was no longer able to look after the building, she passed the responsibility on to her mother, who then passed it on to her. “My family has been involved with this building for a long time,” Shirley concluded.