The 13th annual Dazzling Dahlia Festival blanketed downtown Highlands in a wide spectrum of colors showcasing passionate-dahlia growers’ talents and creativity on Sept. 9. This year’s festival theme was “Season in Highlands,” and the single bloom competition included 409 entries, which is over 150 more than last year, said Dazzling Dahlia Festival Organizer and brainchild Kim Daugherty.
“l am overwhelmed, blessed, and so proud of what my little Covid idea has blossomed into,” said Daugherty. “I believe dazzling Dahlia will grow into Highlands’ signature event. It is by us, for us, about us. “It is an entire community event, and it is so much fun to see everybody in town doing something for a common cause.”
The festival raises awareness for the Highlands Historical Society and highlights include dahlia-heavy vignettes set up throughout town and the single-bloom competition at The Bascom. This year’s festival included 52 vignettes, there were 37 last year.
“It is growing exponentially,” said Daugherty. “It appears that the combination of our local floral and fauna, our residents’ creative talents and love of gardening, and the natural environment is a winning combo. Throw in local history, authors, storytelling, bluegrass music and a huge dance party finish and winner winner chicken dinner.”
The festival wrapped up with a concert in Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park with a performance by Steel Toe Stiletto, sponsored by the Dahliabolicals. The Dahliabolicals are a group of people who banded together to help support the festival.
Dazzling Dahlia Festival winners
Daugherty said the judges struggled to make their choices, but in the end the Best of Show judges award went to The Church of the Incarnation and their “Four Seasons of Learning” designed by Stephanie Reeves. They won $500 for their creativity.
2nd place went to Anna Wear, 3rd place to Secret Garden by Christy Curcuru, and 2 Honorable Mentions went to Full House Gallery by Susan Nastasic, Vevie Dimmitt and Maggie Douglas; and Oakleaf by Kirk Moore.
The People’s Choice awards were decided by approx. 1,000 online votes.
“Our voting put so much pressure on town’s internet that we overloaded it,” she said.
Best of Show People’s Choice goes to Fern of Highlands by Justyne Reese of R & R Farms.
2nd place went to Secret Garden by Christy Curcuru, 3rd place The Vineyard at High Holly, by Sharon Duke; and 2 Honorable Mentions include Lulu BLEU by Sally Zangger, and Incarnation by Stephanie Reeves.
Single Bloom competition
There were 43 growers who entered the single bloom competition at The Bascom, including four professional growers.
Daugherty said a total of 409 dahlias were entered into the contest, so many that they ran out of bottles to display them.
“The flowers were just mesmerizing, every color (except blue), sizes from golf ball to dinner plate, there was even a sugar dahlia in the mix.”
Best of Show in the amateur Single Bloom went to Mary Dotson for her perfect Formal Decorative. This is not Dotson’s first win, she also won Best of Show in 2021.
Professional Best of Show went to Tim Wheatley for his Formal Decorative, MD’s Salamander.
Daugherty thanked Visit Highlands NC, The Bascom, the Highlands Historical Society and all the growers, vignette designers, and people who shared their flowers and talents in the festival for making this annual event possible.
“Then special thanks to the people who got no credit, but have been in lock step with me the entire time; Lindy Harrison, Trish Foor, Lisa Dailey, Peggy Arnette, Annette Waldon, Linda Carter, Susan Clarkson, Kim Craig, and Susan Schlapkohl. Then there are the amazing Dahliabolicals who believed in me enough to bring Steel Toe Stiletto to Highlands to give to the town for free.”
Next year’s festival theme is “Flower Power” and is scheduled for Sept. 7. Steel Toe Stiletto has already been secured to perform.
See all vignette entries in the 13th Annual Dazzling Dahlia Festival HERE. Pictured at the top of the article is Mountain Garden Club’s vignette at the Old Jail.
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More vignettes from around town: