Dazzling Dahlias Festival wows attendees

The 8th Annual Dazzling Dahlia Festival was held at the Highlands Recreation Center on Sept. 8. Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor signed a proclamation declaring the week of September 3-9 Dahlia week. The festival was the culmination of summer activities for the Highlands Historical Society. The funds raised support the Highlands Historical Society, the Prince House and Kelsey Kids Summer Camp.

“Last year we had 41 flowers or less because of Irma,” said Kim Daugherty, Dahlia Festival Chairman referring to the “best” and “worst” of Irma last year.

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Visitors to this year’s Dazzling Dahlia Festival in Highlands, N.C.

Festivities began with a Patron’s Party at Highlands Country Club on Sept. 5 with Highlands & Hollywood as the theme. Attendees walked the red carpet, and Ray McPhail regaled them with the story of Highlands and its part in the filming of “The Four Seasons,” in 1981. The scene with the Mercedes sinking was filmed on Lake Sequoyah. The movie crew was staying at the Rainwater estate, left a space heater on and the heater caught fire. The fire destroyed the old Rainwater estate.

The event raised approximately $12,000 last year. This year, exhibitors entered 277 flowers into the Dahlia Festival; producing an explosion of color and shape that delighted around 200 people. Dinner plate size Dahlias in stunning reds and yellows, Pom Poms, Water Lily’s, balls and Orchids, in every shade under the sun, were just some of the types of Dahlias that local growers proudly shared with the community. Judges awarded Best in Show to Clyde Howell for his singularly stunning Pom Pom. 48 blue ribbons were awarded and many more second place, third place, and honorable mention ribbons were also given.

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Clyde Howell was awarded Best in Show for his “Pom Pom” dahlia.

“It was a surprise to win,” said Howell. “I had one I thought would win and it got iced out this season so when I first walked in I thought ‘oh man, this is not my day.’”

Jodie Zahner gave a demonstration and talk on using native plants in arrangements. She shared some great ideas for making the best use of the flowers and foliage that grow all around us.  There were also 45 dahlia arrangements that were sold to those who do not grow dahlias.

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Best in Show at the Dazzling Dahlia Festival competition.

Sue Heath traveled from LaVonia, Ga., and visitied the show for the first time this year.

“It’s absolutely incredible here,” said Heath. “I’m a painter and I just want to paint all of them. They’re beautiful.”

Daugherty said the dahlias were incredibly beautiful this year, in spite of heavy rains early in the growing season. Many were late blooming, but quite prolific. The blooms entered in the show were absolutely inspiring; their colors ranged from bright whites to deep crimsons, gorgeous purples, oranges, and multi-color blooms that cannot help but make you smile. Each bloom is unique, and a room full of dahlias becomes a festive, joyful, expression of summer bounty on our wonderful plateau.

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Ralph Swingholm of Sapphire Valley visited the Dazzling Dahlias Festival at the Highlands Rec Park.

Ralph Swingholm of Sapphire Valley visited the show fir the first time and said he think shows like Dazzling Dahlias are great.

“I love dahlias,” said Swingholm. “There’s such a variety and the colors are so beautiful. The range of hues is fantastic.”

Daugherty thanked the many volunteers who worked hard all weekend setting up, arranging flowers, categorizing, judging, and generously donating their time and talents to Dazzling Dahlia. She also thanked the many people who spend countless hours planting, nurturing, and beautifying our lives with their beautiful flowers. Growing dahlias is a science and an art that requires patience and proper weather conditions.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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BEST OF SHOW:   Clyde Howell’s Pompom


1st:   Brightman Logan

2nd: James Keeble, Wesleyan Church, Laura

Plush,Cullasaja Dahlia Club (2), Brightman


3rd:  Carol Taylor, Jennifer Schmitt, Laura Plush

H.M.:  Helen Steward


1st:    Clyde Howell

2nd:   Cullasaja Dahlia Club, Dena Williams,

3rd:   Drew English

H.M.: Dede Austin


1st:   Helen & Natalie, Ann Maxwell, Carol Taylor,

Wesleyan Church Glenville

2nd:  Mary Berry, Sarah Benz, Helen Steward,

Leslie Jeffrey, Dede Austin, James Letson (3)

3rd:  Drew English, Dede Austin, Margo Kessler,

Peggy Annette, James Letson,

Wesleyan Church Glenville

H.M.:  Mike Kaiser, Helen & Natalie


1st:  Clyde Howell, Susie Day, Dena Williams,

John Laulletta, Helen & Natalie

2nd:  Margaret Laulletta, Clement Dennis,

Carol Taylor, Helen & Natalie, Dena Williams,

Natalie Laulletta, Jennifer Schmitt, Susie Day (2)

Pixie Killebrew, Peggy Arnette, Mary Berry,

Helen Steward

3rd:   Mary Berry, Laura Plush, Marlene Viers,

Cullasaja Dahlia Club, Carol Taylor, Dede Austin,

Helen & Natalie

H.M.:  Carol Keller, Tee Davis, Mary Berry, Linda David,

Margo Keesler, Tee Davis, Drew English


1st: Clyde Howell


1st:  Drew English

2nd: Peggy Arnette (2)


1st:  Margaret Laulletta

2nd: Peggy Arnette

3rd:  Peggy Arnette


1st:  Ann Maxwell

2nd:  John Laulletta

3rd:  Peggy Arnette


1st: Ann Maxwell

2nd: Peggy Arnette, Sandie Trevathan

3rd: Jennifer Schmitt


1st:  Cullasaja Dahlia Club, John Laulletta,

Ann Maxwell, Clyde Howell

2nd: Cullasaja Dahlia Club (2) Sarah Benz, Clement Dennis,

John Laulletta (2), Jane Youmans, Peggy Arnette,

Ann Maxwell, Margo Keesler

3rd: Kathy Ward, Dede Austin, Nina Burke, Clement Dennis,

Dena Williams

H.M.:  Mike Kaiser, Mary Berry, Linda David, Debby Jamison

Cullasaja Dahlia Club (2)


1st:  Debby Jamison, Clyde Howell

2nd: Susie Day, Margaret Laulletta, Cullasaja Dahlia Club

3rd: John Laulletta, Tee Davis

H.M.: Leslie Jeffrey, Mike Kaiser

CACTUS (A):     

1st:  Wesleyan Church Glenville

2nd: Lee Havron for Sherry Cooper, Carol Keller

3rd: James Letson

H.M.: Tee Davis

CACTUS (B):     

1st: Clyde Howell

2nd: Margo Keesler


1st: Helen & Natalie

2nd: Jane Youmans


1st: Laura & John Bell

2nd: Carol Keller

3rd: Melanie Mauldin


1st: Helen & Natalie

2nd: Helen Steward

3rd: Ann Maxwell


1st:  Carol Kellett

2nd: Wesleyan Church Glenville

3rd: Helen & Natalie

H.M.: Peggy Arnette


1st: Ann Maxwell, Dena Williams, Clyde Howell


1st:  Clement Dennis

2nd:  Natalie Laulletta, Laura & John Bell

3rd: Debby Jamison, Carol Kellett


1st: Margaret Laulletta

2nd: Margo Keesler

3rd: James Letson


1st:  Natalie Laulletta

2nd: Wesleyan Church Glenville

3rd: Sarah Benz


1st: Jennifer Schmitt

2nd: Mike Kaiser

3rd:  Clement Dennis, Carol Kellett

H.M.: Debby Jamison


1st: Marlene Viers

2nd:  Carol Taylor

3rd: Helen & Natalie, Dede Austin,

Carol Taylor

H.M.: James Keeble


1st: John Laulletta

2nd: Ann Maxwell

3rd: Marlene Viers (2), Clyde Howell


1st: Jane Youmans, Susie Day, Ann Maxwell


1st: Nina Burke

2nd: Laura & John Bell, Margaret Laulletta

3rd: Clyde Howell


1st: Clyde Howell

2nd: Carol Taylor, Helen & Natalie, James  Keeble

3rd: Jane Youmans, Dena Williams, James Keeble


1st: Clyde Howell

2nd: Laura & John Bell

3rd: Debby Jamison, Helen Steward,

John & Laura Bell


1st: Helen & Natalie

2nd: Laura & John Bell, Mary Berry, Carol Kellett (2)

3rd: Jane Youmans


1st: Dena Williams

2nd: Dede Austin, Dena Williams, Margo Keesler, John Laulletta,

Clyde Howell, Carol Kellett (2)

3rd: Jane Youmans


2nd: James Letson

H.M.: Nina Burke


1st: Lee Havron for Sherry Cooper

2nd: Pixie Killabrew

3rd: Lee Havron for Sherry Cooper


1st: Jennifer Schmitt

2nd: Margaret Laulletta, Clement Dennis, Sandie Trevathan

3rd: Hellen & Natalie, Sandie Trevathan (2), Margo Keesler


1st: Clyde Howell

2nd: Susie Day

3rd: John Laulletta

H.M.: Mike Kaiser, Margaret Laulletta


3rd:  Tee Davis


2nd: Cullasaja Dahlia Club

3rd: Nina Burke

H.M.: Leslie Jeffrey


1st: Diane Warren

2nd: Ruth Claiborne

H.M. Betty Fisher


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