"It is the oldest flower show in Georgia and one of the oldest chrysanthemum shows in the United States," said Mascia, a member of the Stilesboro Improvement Club, which will sponsor the event. "Also it's unique because of the fact that almost no flower shows do what we do, which is decorate and stage around the show. Most garden clubs who do flower shows just display the specimens in bottles and they don't do any kind of decorating other than make arrangements, and we decorate the whole building. ... [Stilesboro Academy] never looks better than when it's all dressed up for chrysanthemums. It's beautiful inside and out.
"It smells wonderful, when you combine that smell of chrysanthemums with the smell of the evergreens that we bring in. We bring in a lot of pines and cedars to decorate with," she said, referring to items used to illustrate the show's theme, The Four Seasons. "And the building is just a remarkable piece of architecture that Bartow County is lucky to have. [It is] something that every citizen ought to get a chance to see because there are very few of these academies left in the South. At one point before the Civil War they were all over the area. A lot of them were burned by federal troops when they came through in May of 1864 and then the rest just have been neglected and fallen in. People did not see the wisdom of preserving them and they were torn down to make room for something new."
Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the Chrysanthemum Show is expected to draw hundreds of people to the Stilesboro Academy at 2639 Highway 113, eight miles west of Cartersville. During the event, the public will be able to view the annual contest in which club members will enter chrysanthemums in various competition categories.
Hoping to compete in her third show will be Leanne Smith, who currently is growing her chrysanthemums in buckets at her Rockmart residence.
"My mother's in the club. My aunt's in the club and everybody that's in there I've known since I was a little kid," Smith said. "So it's a challenge for me to compete against all of the ones that's been in it for a long, long time. I have [won before]. [In the] niche [contest], the first year I was in it, I got first and last year second. Then in the different categories that they classify the flowers as, like a spider, I've come in first, second or third.
"It's cool to see how big [the blooms] can really get because mine hasn't [gotten] as big as everybody else's has. I'm still learning. I had one -- my spider [bloom] was probably as big around as a saucer one time."
Implemented in 1912, the flower show is the largest fundraiser for the Stilesboro Improvement Club, which is charged with maintaining Stilesboro Academy. The three-room building that Union Gen. William T. Sherman spared on his march to Atlanta served as a school for children in the first through 12th grades from 1859 through the late 1930s. When the Bartow County School System wanted to close the academy, the club paid what the lumber was worth and in turn received the deed for the school in 1939.
For more information about the flower show, call Mascia at 770-382-7773. Admission to the event will be $2. For a minimal cost, the public also will be able to partake in an a la carte lunch in the Tea Room, featuring homemade Brunswick stew, chicken salad and desserts.