Look the Judge in the Eye
A simple guide to growing and showing for beginners by Ian Penney

Your First Show - First Stages

You want to enter a show but you don't quite know how to go about it. The first thing to do is get a schedule that all show organisers produce. This will contain a complete list of all the classes of the show, an entry form, the date when the entry forms have to be submitted, and to whom they have to be submitted.

The best advice I can give you to start your showing career is to decide to enter something. Look at the schedule carefully, look at what is growing in your garden and enter at least one class but not more than three. From that moment look after your exhibits. You will need to water them, perhaps feed them, stake them, keep the green fly off them; in other words they are your babies, molly coddle them!

Preparing Your Exhibit

I will go into more detail later about preparing your entry for show. For your first show try to make your flower fruit or veg as attractive as possible, put them in a suitable container and transport them carefully to the show.

At The Show

On arrival at the show tent/hall go first to the secretary's table where you will receive your place cards that will have your exhibitor's number and class number. Go to the table designated for your class and set up your exhibit. Make it look as presentable as possible, place your card beside your entry and then leave it. Go and speak to some of your friends. Go home! Above all leave your exhibit alone. I have seen many entries spoiled by over elaborate grooming. I have even seen an exhibitor screwing the head off a daffodil as he tried to clock the petals.

The Great Moment

Your 'career' as an exhibitor starts the moment you enter the show tent and look at your entry. Congratulations if you have got a prize card. If as is more likely, I regret to say, you have not won anything, do not despair as your education starts at that moment. Look at the entries that have got a prize card, in what way are they are better than yours? Are they bigger, cleaner, fresher and so on?

 You will be far more aware of the good points of an exhibit when you are comparing it with your own. This is the reason I advise you to enter something and having made your comparisons decide there and then that next year you will be among the winners.