Krishna Villar and her mother, Rama Balderas, walked around the display room slowly, taking time to appreciate the detail on the petals of the roses. Then, they carefully selected the burgundy miniature rose bush and the two-tone pink roses they took home.
Villar, a 23-year-old former Gainesville resident now living in Guatemala, attended the event for the first time to enjoy a bonding experience with her mother.
More than 80 people attended the 39th Annual Rose Show on Saturday afternoon at the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. The American Rose Society and the Gainesville Rose Society hosted the rose show to celebrate the official national flower and encourage people to appreciate roses.
For those who participate in the shows, the flowers are more than decorations. They are a way of life.
“When you have been around plants as a kid, it seems you never lose a fascination with it,” said Dan Mills, vice president of the Gainesville Rose Society, who has been participating in the annual rose show for 13 years.
Participants who entered their roses in the exhibition contest presented rose arrangements that ranged from traditional vases topped with long-stemmed pink roses to bright orange roses intricately branching out of a modern, square vase.
Professional judges from Georgia, Alabama and Florida were invited to judge the horticulture and arrangement qualities. Judgement was based on a point system that graded roses based on their bloom, the form of the bloom and the foliage, said John Tucker, president of the Gainesville Rose Society.
Classes and display types were divided into several sections, including a Court of Roses. The judges decided on a single rose to be declared the best of the fair, known as Queen of the Court.
The festival had 52 prizes, and competitors could win more than one prize, Tucker said.
Monica Harrison, 28, attended the show with her daughter and son. Harrison, who grows her own rose garden, bought some of the roses that had marveled her children. For her, the event was a way to keep a family tradition alive.
“My mom has always loved roses, and she got me into it,” Harrison said. “It is something we do together.”
"Jennirene" started out six years ago as a "sport," or an offspring with unusual characteristics, and was named for Steve Felts' daughter. Felts, 54, a plumber from Ocala, had five roses on the winner's table this year. He says growing roses is "a labor of love."