Great Darke County Fair has 65th Celebration of Flower Shows


GREENVILLE — Every five years is a milestone, according to Darke County Association of Garden Clubs President Charlene Thornhill, who is also the Butterflies Junior Garden Club leader over the Junior Division.

She is referring to the 65th Celebration of Flower Shows, that took place Wednesday at the Great Darke County Fair, in Greenville. Previous celebrations took place at 50 and 65 years.

“It’s just a great honor to be a part of the Great Darke County Fair, and to stage flower shows, not only for garden club members to enjoy but for the public to enjoy,” Thornhill said.

According to the Darke County Agricultural Society, the first garden club involvement in a fair flower show, as listed in the Darke County Fair Premium Books, was in 1952. The next year, a theme was chosen with a chairman from the garden clubs in charge. Artistic flower arrangements were added to the schedule with a growing list of horticulture in 1953.

The flower department has seen seven Darke County Fairboard superintendents in sixty five years, including: Harold Snider, Gilbert Lease, Ed Buchy, Doyle Greenhoff, Darryl Mehaffie, Bill Rhoades, Dave Niley and now Ed Erisman. The Flower Show of 1954, earned the prestigious honor from The Ohio Association of Garden Clubs, Inc. as Best County Fair Flower Show in the state of Ohio, according to the history. The garden club members over the years have worked hard to keep this honor and have obtained it numerous times. One of those members is Judy Burns, a 41-year member and the only remaining original charter member of the Wildflower Garden Club, she said.

“We have a lot of good flower arrangers in our club,” Burns said.

One of those is 98-year-old Virginia O’Dell, of Greenville, who won this year’s Louise Sheffer Award at the Great Darke County Fair. The Sheffer family gives an award each year to someone who does an artistic design Sheffer would have designed, or would have really liked. Among other contributions to the art of gardening and flower arranging, Sheffer served as Flower Show Chairperson for the Darke County Fair Flower Show numerous times and served every committee for the flower show.

“Virginia was chosen for the Sheffer award because it contained components in her design that my mother would have used,” Thornhill said.

Sheffer was Thornhill’s mother. Thornhill’s daughter Kim Cromwell, is the Flower Show chairperson for going on 20 years. She is also the co-leader with Thornhill for the Butterflies Junior Garden Club. According to Cromwell, time has brought some change to the shows over the years.

“There are a lot more Colias, Caladiums and succulents,” she said. “And not so many marigolds anymore. We have seen trends come and go in waves.”

There have been five generations of their family in the Great Darke County Fair’s Flower Show, Cromwell said. Her granddaughter Audrey Allread is the youngest member.

“The Flower Department is important for inspiring creativity,” Thornhill said. “For example, the thought process that goes into the theme. We assign a particular theme each year for each class, that participants think about. They arrange to interpret that particular theme. Beginning in September, we plan for the different arrangements, and we like to use the most up-to-date arrangements that the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs promote. And as far as horticulture, we like to bring in the newest variety of plant material that the public likes to see.”

“If you are brought up around it, it is just what you know,” Cromwell said. “It is important to carry that on.”

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From left to right: Darke County Association of Garden Clubs President Charlene Thornhill; Judy Burns, a 41-year member and the only remaining original charter member of the Wildflower Garden Club; and Kim Cromwell, Thornhill’s daughter and the Great Darke County Fair Flower Show chairperson for going on 20 years. She is also the co-leader with Thornhill for the Butterflies Junior Garden Club.
http://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2017/08/web1_anniversary1.jpgFrom left to right: Darke County Association of Garden Clubs President Charlene Thornhill; Judy Burns, a 41-year member and the only remaining original charter member of the Wildflower Garden Club; and Kim Cromwell, Thornhill’s daughter and the Great Darke County Fair Flower Show chairperson for going on 20 years. She is also the co-leader with Thornhill for the Butterflies Junior Garden Club.

The Sheffer Award at the Great Darke County Fair went to 98-year-old Virginia O’Dell, of Greenville. Pictured is O’Dell’s flower arrangement. It won because her designed contained components that Louise Sheffer would have used.
http://www.dailyadvocate.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/34/2017/08/web1_anniverary2.jpgThe Sheffer Award at the Great Darke County Fair went to 98-year-old Virginia O’Dell, of Greenville. Pictured is O’Dell’s flower arrangement. It won because her designed contained components that Louise Sheffer would have used.
Flower show reaches milestone

By Carolyn Harmon

charmon@dailyadvocate.com

The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.