America In Bloom Announces 2011 Award Winners

It was only fitting that America In Bloom (AIB) would return to our nations’ capital to celebrate 10 years of planting pride and prosperity in local communities. The 2011 America In Bloom Symposium and Awards Program is a national conference that was held in the Washington, D.C., area, Thursday through Saturday.
A number of growers and garden retailers entered their cities in the national contest and have been instrumental in their planting efforts. Over the summer, AIB judges visited towns of similar populations and evaluated them on eight criteria: floral displays, urban forestry, landscaped areas, turf and groundcovers, tidiness, environmental awareness, heritage and community involvement.

“We are excited these cities are participating in America In Bloom’s national award program,” says AIB’s President Marvin Miller. “With this commitment, they join with nearly 200 other cities across the United States and many more around the world, which have recognized the importance of flowers, trees and other plants to the economic, environmental, psychological and sociological well-being of their residents.”

The towns with the highest evaluation scores were honored as population category winners:
Sackets Harbor, N.Y. – under 4,000 population category
Gallipolis, Ohio – 4,001-10,000 population category
Bexley, Ohio – 10,001-15,000 population category
Arroyo Grande, Calif. – 15,001-25,000 population category
Holland, Mich. – 25,001-50,000 population category
Fayetteville, Ark. – 50,001-100,000 population category

The following criteria awards were presented based on feedback from the team of judges on outstanding efforts they witnessed.
Tidiness – Holland, Mich. (sponsored by OFA)
Environmental Effort – McCall, Idaho (sponsored by Ellepot)
Community Involvement – Washington, Mo. (sponsored by American Horticultural Society)
Heritage Preservation – Arroyo Grande, Calif. (sponsored by Meister Media Worldwide)
Urban Forestry – Bexley, Ohio (sponsored by the J. Frank Schmidt Family Charitable Foundation)
Landscaped Areas – Sackets Harbor, Mich. (sponsored by Proven Winners)
Floral Displays – Springfield, Ohio (sponsored by Ball Horticultural Co.)
Turf & Groundcover Areas – Fayetteville, Ark.

Ten special awards were presented as part of AIB’s 10th anniversary celebration:
Best Hanging Baskets – Demopolis, Ala.
Most Whimsical Feature – frog sculptures in North East, Pa.
Best Adaptive Reuse Project – Ariel Theater/Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Center in Gallipolis, Ohio
Most Beautiful Town Entrance – Rising Sun, Ind.
Greatest Number of Years in AIB – Fayetteville, Ark. (all 10 years!)
Best Community Garden Program – Coshocton, Ohio
Best Feature for Young People – Eco-Sports Corridor in Springfield, Ohio
Most Creative Ideas for Fundraising—Hollandia Botanica Garden sells butterflies to be released in the name of a loved one in Springfield, Ohio
Most Creative Idea in the Past 10 Years – AIB’s “Ten Years of Best Ideas” book by Evelyn Alemanni, which presents nearly 2,000 best practices and accomplishments by AIB towns.

Coshocton, Ohio, also won the $500 cash prize for the best YouTube Video Award capturing the benefits of participating in AIB. Vivian Lund of Warrenville, Ill., received the John R. Holmes III Community Champion Award.

The educational conference and awards symposium was held at the Doubletree Hotel Crystal City in Arlington, Va., and chaired by AIB Judge Katy Moss Warner and Tom Underwood, president of American Horticultural Society (AHS). The program featured the best in the field of public horticulture in the Washington, D.C., metro area – Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, U.S. Botanic Garden, Smithsonian Gardens, the 275-acre Capitol Grounds and AHS’s headquarters at George Washington’s River Farm in Alexandria, Va. Inspirational keynote speakers included author and television personality Joe Lamp’l of “Growing A Greener World,” Disney veteran Dennis Snow on committing to service excellence and the White House’s Chief Florist Laura Dowling. Growing healthy communities by planting vegetable gardens was another focus as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move Cities & Towns Initiative.”

Next year’s AIB symposium and awards program will be Fayetteville, Ark., Sept. 20-22 and nestled in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Now is the time to engage your communities to participate in the 2012 AIB competition. For those who don’t feel quite ready to compete, there is a noncompete option to test-drive the grassroots community revitalization program funded by the green industry.
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