The 10th Annual Dazzling Dahlia Festival was held outdoors this year with over 30 dahlia vignettes on display throughout Highlands over the weekend. Traditionally held in the Civic Center to benefit the Highlands Historical Society, the format was changed in response to COVID-19.
Festival Chairwoman and HHS Board Member Kim Daugherty came up with the idea and was the driving force that put this event together in just over 60 days.
“The possibility to do a socially distanced outdoor dahlia festival, with emphasis on Highlands history and locations was an exciting one,” she said. “The goal was to give our town a hug, some joy, a smile; and to share the history and beauty of this magical place. History doesn’t take a break, so the historical society decided that we would bravely write a positive chapter for 2020.”
Visitors were guided to historic sites throughout town as they walked the “Dahlia Trail” and voted online for their favorites.
“Many, many have shared their thoughts that Dazzling Dahlia should always have this fun and entertaining format,” said Dougherty. “It appealed to a very wide range of people, and both locals and visitors alike were enjoying the vignettes. In the end about 550 votes were cast online with the winners selected by those votes.”
Best of Show: Dahlias at the Bascom
First place: Steal Dahlias, Mountain Garden Club
Second place: Kirkin’ & Barefootin,’ by Helen Steward, and gang
Third place: Nature’s Beauty Cannot be Caged, Vineyard at 37 High Holly
Ruthie Edwards, Bascom Board Member and one of the designers of Dahlias at The Bascom, said this year’s format was a big success.
“This format reaches more people,” said Edwards. “It’s spread out all over town and it’s engaged shopkeepers, grocery stores, restaurants, churches, all kinds of people in the community. For those participating, it’s a more relaxed way to arrange flowers and you’re not worried about breaking the rules.”
Carol Miller, designer of Delightful Dahlias and Furry Friends, one of several displays located at Kelsey Hutchinson Founders Park, said this was her first time participating in the Dahlia Festival and she can’t wait to do it again.
“This is my first year participating and I loved it,” said Miller. “It was a professional show, but I think this way is better because it brings in more people, more interest. People can come to town and shop and see dahlias. And from a participant’s perspective it’s a lot more fun because you can use other flowers from North Carolina.”
In this year’s Festival, participants were allowed to use flowers native to N.C. along with dahlias. Each vignette also included a story pertaining to the history of Highlands.
Daugherty said it takes a special community to pull off an event like this in such a short amount of time and it couldn’t have been possible without the support of the Town of Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor and Town Manager Josh Ward.
“Thanks to Highlands Police for keeping us all safe, and thanks to everyone who exhibited as well as everyone who attended for being safe and respectful of each other and Highlands,” said Daugherty. “We want to sincerely thank everybody who entered this different new Dahlia format; your creativity and efforts exceeded expectations!”
Daugherty added that she especially thanked Lisa Dailey, Dahlia Festival Co-chair, for all her hard work and talent.
“Lastly, thanks to Mr. Evil COVID for making us think beyond what we usually do,” she said. “Stay tuned next year for the new and more entertaining Dazzling Dahlia Festival. Hopefully COVID will not be the ruling force and we can dazzle everyone with the talent and beauty of the Highlands plateau.”
To donate to Highlands Historical Society and to see a complete list of dahlia displays, participants, and stories, click HERE.
Stealing Dahlias, Mountain Garden Club
High Hampton Stay True – 2020 and the Year of COVID-19
Framing Nature, Village Square
X Marked the Spot, Laurel Garden Club
Kirkin’ & Barefootin at First Presbyterian Church
Sunday Church Hats, Episcopal Church of the Incarnation
High Style, Tugs Proper. Photos by Maggie Burd
Highlands Lawn & Garden, in honor of those who have served, do serve, and will serve our great country on the front lines here and all over the world!
Rotary Club of Highlands, 75 Years