By DAVID GREEN
Neree Emmons is an old hand at showing cows, but he’s mostly a rookie when it comes to showing roses.
Nevertheless, he won a pair of blue ribbons plus a trophy at the recent American Rose Society exhibition in Toledo.
“A rose show is different than showing cows, in the way they’re judged,” Neree said.
When dairy cattle are judged, the best specimen is chosen and awarded the top prize. Even if there’s only one animal entered in a class, that one will take the honor.
That’s not the case with roses. Sometimes there just isn’t a winner.
That’s because it just wasn’t good enough.
Roses are judged against the hypothetical perfect rose. Those that fall short don’t make the grade.
“There could be 100 roses in a class and not one is chosen a winner,” Neree explained. “Or there could be 25 winners.”
Suppose there are 25 blue ribbon winners. Once they’re selected, judges start removing the weaker entries one at a time until there’s a single rose remaining. That one might get the trophy and it might not. If it’s exceptional, judges can honor it with a prize. If it’s not, well…better luck next year.
What about in the dairy show ring? No such thing as a perfect cow?
Actually there is, Neree said, but no cow has ever been judged at a perfect 100. The best specimen ever recorded came in at about 97.
Neree said he felt a little like a fish out of water at the competition Sept. 13, or maybe like a farmer in the city.
The Toledo Rose Society served as the host for the show, covering the Ohio and Michigan districts. But since it’s a nationally recognized show sponsored by the American Rose Society, growers come from far beyond the Great Lakes area. Neree remembers seeing entries from Ontario, West Virginia, Georgia, California and other states.
When someone transports a rose from California, they buy three airplane seats and the rose, in a special container, sits between the growers. There are special refrigerated units to keep roses fresh, because there’s an optimum stage of development for showing.
Neree watched one grower coax a rose into bloom by inserting 15 cotton swabs between petals.
Neree isn’t a complete amateur. He brought some swabs along, too, just in case. He’s learned a few things by reading the literature, but this was his first foray into the American Rose Society competition.
He entered five of the 45 classes. His Princess Marianna won a blue ribbon in the Modern Shrub class. His Rose de Rescht took a blue ribbon in the Victorian (old garden rose) class. The Rose de Rescht survived the winnowing by the judges until it was the only specimen remaining, and a crystal dish trophy was awarded.
“I really felt good about getting two ribbons and a trophy for a greenhand,” Neree said. “It was a lot of fun.”
There was one more honor to follow—the award banquet—but Neree didn’t make it to that event. He had to get to a dairy meeting.
-October 1, 2003