Stilesboro Improvement Club members compete to present the best Chrysanthemums
by John DeFoor
Nov 06, 2011 | 1563 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Darlene Sproull Wallace looks at the flowers in the Stilesboro Academy that has been the home of the annual chrysanthemum show since 1912. Wallace had her eighth grade graduation at Stilesboro Academy.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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On Saturday the Stilesboro Improvement Club presented its 99th annual Chrysanthemum show at Stilesboro Academy in Cartersville.

Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., the Chrysanthemum flower show featured historical displays, competitions and lunch.

"I'm sorry to say it is my first time, because [this event] is wonderful," said Carlin Wyatt, from Rome. "They say in Chinese that the Chrysanthemum is not the showiest flower; it waits till the other flowers die before it blooms ... it is a shy flower. These aren't shy!"

One historic display featured an antique buggy that once belonged to Martha Berry, the founder of Berry College. The buggy -- white wheeled, with yellow handles and a green cart -- was surrounded by an array of yellow, white, red, and pink mums in bottles and vases. Another display featured a cotton field that depicted cotton growing, along with a large basket of cotton, a scale used to weigh cotton and more colorful mums.

The show was divided into two competitions: horticulture -- which focused on the plants themselves -- and design.

For design, participants would compete in small groups, working with themes such as 'one room school houses,' 'cotton picking time,' and 'horse and buggy days.' Outside of the small groups, all of the design participants competed against one another for the best design.

For this year's show, 12 people competed.

One of the event's visitor's was 50-year-old Mike Cronin, who joked, "My mom made me come."

His mother -- from Kennesaw -- told him that she was planning on going to see a friend's display. Since Cronin lives close to the academy he said he decided to come too. He found fascination in the building and its antiques, including a bench which Civil War Union Gen. William T. Sherman and his troops used as feed troughs for horses during his march to the sea, and the academy's collection of old books -- towards which Cronin said he was "timid" about getting too close to due to the age of the books.

"The purpose of the show is to raise money for the upkeep of the building," said publicity chairman Nell Buchanan. She said the club hopes to get a new roof for the academy which currently has some leaking problems.

According to Ann Mascia -- a former president of the club and participant for this year -- the event generally has 700 to 1,000 visitors throughout the day. While most visitors are local, Mascia said they even get guests from out of state. "I met a man from Kentucky who comes because his grandparents were students here. [He] comes every year."

"We owe a lot of credit to the people of the community who have continued to support us over the generations," Mascia said, "And the dedication of the members of the club who year after year come and do this work."

According to Wyatt, she was certainly impressed by the show. "I'm going to come back next year and bring my family."