I had the honor of chairing the Texas Cup competition at the 100 Year Celebration of the Texas State Florists’ Association‘s annual convention in Austin, Texas on July 18th, 2014. I came straight from my computer and finding out that I passed my PFDE Exam in Chicago and was asked to be a member of the American Institute of Floral Designers so there was no stopping this girl, so I knew the weekend was going to ROCK!
Upon arriving in Austin I had found that my flowers, generously sponsored by American Agro in Dallas, Texas, had arrived and were waiting for me, and oh how beautiful they were! The flowers I chose were lime green cymbidiums, orange and yellow roses, bells of Ireland, yellow lilies, much more fresh along with a large beautiful succulent plant and a variety of awesome greens, mosses and cool wire from Smithers-Oasis.
The contestants were aware that they would be bringing a prop to fit in the theme of the event, “The Spectrum of Design.. Treasured Memories – Future Vision”, they had $50.00 that they could spend on their prop and could do no advanced design work on it. They also knew they would be doing a wedding design and a surprise situation design.
We had a 5pm pre-competition meeting to inspect props, tools and where the designers could ask any questions they may have had and then were dismissed for 15 minutes before the dinner program started. The show featured Kevin Ylvisaker AIFD, CAFA, he put on an awesome program of how designs have changed over the decades, I unfortunately was busy with the Texas Cup preparations and was unable to see the show but I heard it was amazing. Kevin has a huge personality and shines when he is on stage, so I’m sure it was amazing!
Directly after Kevin’s show we had 15 minutes to set up and the competition began as the audience from Kevin’s show, 167 people in attendance, were served coffee and dessert as they watched the competitors. The first design was the interpretive design and the designers were allotted 45 minutes to complete this design. As I walked around the room I saw some of the first time contestants using ALL of their flowers in their first design, so being a first-timer at chairing I walked around the room nervously and loudly saying, “These are all the flowers you will be receiving”. LOL I truly didn’t know what else to do to give them some sort of chance to remove some of the flowers.
The second design was a wedding bouquet that the designers were given 40 minutes to complete and it went off without a hitch.
Now for the Surprise Package…. the contestants were asked to leave the room and step outside for 10 minutes while we set up for the surprise portion, at this time we brought in 20 easels and 20 Smither-Oasis 18″ square and round funeral wreaths. Under their desk I had placed a manila envelope that included the surprise package situation and a photograph of a deceased past president of the Texas State Florists’ Association, the designers were instructed to use the oasis wreath and they had to incorporate the frame into the design to honor the presidents of the past that have paved the way for our floral association to be what it is today, one of the strongest and innovative in the country.
With many groans and dirty looks being directed at me I knew the posted allotted time of 20 minutes was unreasonable so I added another 10 minutes to the time and they were off and designing. At this time it was 8:30pm approaching 9pm and the judging was underway. That 30 minutes went by extremely fast and some of the contestants are only just now forgiving me for the surprise situation and some may never forgive me, but it was a surprise design. The designers did honor the past and came through as the true designers that they are and made it happen in 30 minutes, I am so proud of all the designers.
Now it’s 9pm and the judges are working hard behind the curtains, the judges worked from 8:30pm to 1:30am before emerging with a winner of the competition. My judges were Debbie Gordy AIFD, Susan Tate AIFD and Dov E. Kupfer AIFD who is also a certified American Institute of Floral Designers judge so all of my judges were extremely qualified to do the job and it was not an easy task with 20 contestants and 60 designs to judge before they emerged with a winner.
In the end Sheri Jentsch TMF of Blumen Meisters Flower Shop in New Braunsfels, Texas was the first place winner, Nora Cisneros of Flowers of Kingwood in Kingwood, Texas was the 2nd runner-up with Josh Anderson of James Madison High School in San Antonio, Texas receiving third place. Honorable mention went to Debbie Lyon of Hubble and Hudson Bistro in The Woodlands, Texas and Luke Harwell of Baack Flowers in Abilene, Texas.
I want to thank all of those that helped me get through this experience, being my first chairing experience I had a few Uh Oh’s but we all got through it and I have learned a few valuable lessons for next year. This was one of the most successful Texas Cup Competitions in many years and I am very proud of all the contestants that stepped up and put their hearts and designs on the line to be judged by others. It’s never an easy thing to do, but when you win it is life changing and the most awesome feeling in the world. The sense of accomplishment for all your hard work is acknowledged and you can’t take that away!
Congratulations to all the contestants, you are all winner’s in my eyes! Hope to see you next year! Nicola Parker CFD, TMFA