GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis in Bloom is preparing for another year of dirt, flowers and sunshine as 2019 makes its way towards the spring season.
Karen Smith has taken over as the organization’s president and she said GIB is looking forward to getting back to roots and future growth.
“We had some issues last year because the weather was so bad and with watering, so the flowers did not look as good as we would have liked for them to,” said Smith. “As we were regrouping and deciding what we were going to do without Kim and Bev at the helm, we decided we weren’t going to participate in the America in Bloom competition. Last year was the first year since we had gotten involved that we decided to not participate. It can be an expensive venture…Probably thankfully we did because we had so many issues with the weather and everything.”
Bev Dunkle served as the previous president of the organization before retiring and Kim Canaday has served as its volunteer coordinator.
Smith said GIB has “gleaned” a lot from the competition but that the organization wanted to regroup.
“We want to refocus and get back to what we do best and that’s our floral displays,” said Smith. “We’ll go back to the colors people have requested, which would be pink, pink and pink.”
America in Bloom is a nationwide beautifying contest. For several years, Gallipolis in Bloom has brought back awards for its displays, historical heritage and small town pride celebrations. It was named winner of America in Bloom’s Circle of Champions for small communities twice, once in 2016 and again in 2017.
“We always focus on being something that people can be proud of,” said the president. “We’ve gotten good support throughout the years from the public and Bob’s Market. I think we first started putting flowers up and started with maybe 12 baskets. I’m thinking it was 2003 and 2004.”
Smith said since the early 2000s the beautification effort had grown from those first roughly dozen baskets into around 180 hanging pots and 30 interior pots for Gallipolis City Park.
“We’re proud of that and want to keep at it for the public,” said Smith. “We certainly appreciate donations because as we’ve (expanded) so has the cost.”
GIB members in the past have said that the summer beautification effort is important for the community’s culture and heritage because it celebrates the past, present and future of Gallipolis. Planning floral displays, integrating area history with them and maintaining a summer’s growth can give a community pride in itself.
“We don’t want our momentum to stop,” said Smith. “We appreciate all the help we can get. Planting Day should be around the last weekend in April, sometimes the first week in May. We can’t do it too early because of the cold, but we don’t want to run into Mother’s Day.”
Smith said the organization is strongly considering returning to the AIB competition in the future.
“It’s a good thing and a wonderful thing,” she said. “We have gained a lot of information. By having judges come in, they look at everything, including our infrastructure. That’s worth it to small towns because in some cases they might pay ($25,000) or $35,000 for a consultant to come in and say what can we do to improve our community. That’s a big deal. It’s worth the time and energy to do the competition.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.