Dazzling Dahlias Festival brightens up town

Highlands was draped in dahlias for the 12th Dazzling Dahlias Festival in mid-September to help raise funds for the Highlands Historical Society.

This year’s theme was “The Gilded Age,” and included 37 vignettes from a variety of groups set up throughout town. Each vignette was an interpretation of the theme and included using dahlias as paintings, dahlia trees, and dahlia brides.

The Center for Life Enrichment’s vignette at Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park during the 12th annual Dazzling Dahlias Festival.

Light rain was an inconvenience throughout the weekend, but flowers in most cases were not affected. People didn’t seem phased by the rain as most vignettes, especially The Bascom’s judged bloom competition, received steady traffic.

The single bloom judged competition at The Bascom.

Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park was another popular stop and was loaded with displays created by local nonprofits that acquainted folks with the important work done throughout the Plateau.

Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust vignette at Founders Park.

Highlands Historical Society hosted a dahlia tennis match, had storytelling, bluegrass, clogging; and a book talk from Brent Martin on his new book about George Masa, “Wild Visions.”

Highlands Historical Society’s tennis match.

There was a scavenger hunt for children that took kids around town to learn about the animals and history of the Plateau.

The single bloom competition at The Bascom was judged by Garden Club of America judges and included 261 dahlia entries.

A bloom from the judged competition at The Bascom.

Competition was fierce, but Peggy Arnette, Drew English, and newcomer to the show, Tim Wheatley, each racked up several ribbons.

Judged bloom entry.

English won the coveted Best of Show with his Cactus bloom that was described as a vision of singular perfection.

The Bascom and Historical Society hosted a reception on Sept. 8 to unveil the inaugural dahlia festival poster; a beautiful rendering of a dahlia bouquet as a female face, done by budding local artist Trish Foor.

Judged bloom entry.

The image is available to purchase as a poster or notecard at the Historical Village between Thurs.-Sat., and at the Bascom during regular hours.

Judge bloom entry.

Next year’s Dazzling Dahlia Festival theme will be “The Seasons of Highlands,” and will be held Sept. 9-10.

Judged bloom entry.

Festival Chair Kim Daugherty said the Historical Society wants to thank everybody who participated in the dahlia festival.

Winners of the 12th annual Dazzling Dahlia Festival receive their ribbons at Founders Park from Kim Daugherty (2nd from left).

“With 37 vignettes, a huge single bloom show, activities and entertainment; many people worked very hard to create a vignette,” said Daugherty. “So many people volunteered their time for months to plan and execute a community wide event. We had such support from the chamber of commerce/visit Highlands, the Bascom, Mountaintop Rotary, Highlands Rotary and so many businesses, Garden clubs and others it just makes you proud to call Highlands your town.”

Mountain Findings

She added that support for the Historical Society throughout the event was incredible.

“People shared their tents with other vignettes because of rain, people donated enough flowers to make and sell 75 mason jar arrangements, people helped each other with their vignettes, and people made all those arrangements,” she said. “The dahlia festival is truly a unique festival, as everything is donated, all the flowers, most vignettes, and all of the labor.”

The Park on Main

Judges Winners:

Best of show:  BASCOM: “Gilded Frame”

Second Place: Crown Heritage Flower Design Studio: “A Still Life, Animated”

Third Place: Episcopal Church of the Incarnation: “God’s Gilded Age”

People’s Choice winners:

Best of Show: Highlands Historical Society: “Tennis”

Second Place: Lulu-Bleu: “Lulu Belle Roars in the ‘20s”

Third Place: BASCOM: “Gilded Frame”

Honorable Mentions:

Highlands Rotary

Mountaintop Rotary

Laurel Garden Club

From left are Timmy McDowell and Chance Wilson checking out Wild Azalea Garden Club’s vignette after church.

J. McLaughlin

Sotheby’s International Realty

Highlands Performing Arts Center

Highlands Mountaintop Rotary

Rotary Club of Highlands

Boys & Girls Club of the Plateau

Peggy Crosby Center

Highlands Wine Shoppe

Mountain Theatre Company

Highlands Biological Foundation

Highlands Tavern

Episcopal Church of the Incarnation

Mountain Garden Club

The Vineyard at High Holly


The Bascom. Also Pictured at the top of the article.

Judged bloom competition at The Bascom.

Judged bloom entries

Judged bloom entry

Judged bloom entry

Judged bloom entry

Silly Ridge Roundup performs at Highlands Historical Society during the 12th annual Dazzling Dahlia Festival.

See all vignettes HERE.

Photos by Brian O’Shea, Plateau Daily News

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