Marysville dahlia grower Dick Westfall shows one of his flowers last week. Westfall has a pair of fields on his property where he grows his flowers, which he takes to various competitions in Ohio and occasionally the east coast.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Will Channell)
This is an exciting time of year for local dahlia grower Dick Westfall.
The 84-year-old Marysville resident is gearing up for the The Greater Columbus Dahlia Society’s 52nd annual Dahlia Showcase at the Marysville YMCA this weekend. It will run Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Dahlia growing has been a lifelong hobby for Westfall. His house on Lakewood Lane is home to two large gardens devoted to growing the vibrant flower. It was his passion for the hobby that brought the event to Marysville.
This will only be the fifth year the show has been hosted in Marysville. Previously, it was based in Columbus.
Westfall was the one who convinced the Dahlia Society to bring the show to Marysville. The show was typically held in a mall, but they didn’t want to sponsor the show and they didn’t have much room for it. Westfall asked for the show to move to Marysville.
He said having it in Marysville was more expensive, but he was prepared to offset the costs by finding sponsors himself.
“A lot of people don’t like to do that kind of thing,” he said. “But it doesn’t bother me.”
He has help now, but for the first few years of the show’s operation in Marysville, Westfall would go from business to business himself, trying to attract sponsors. Armed with only a packet of information about the show, he’d go in, ask for a manager or owner and explain the show.
“I’ve had very few people turn me down,” he said. “I started out with people that I knew, and that I’d dealt with in the past.”
“It’s been a real success for us, too,” he said.
Westfall said the show’s sponsors have “done a great job” for the show.
“We got so many sponsors, we ran out of room for logos,” he said with a smile.
According to Westfall, the event is a tightly run ship. Exhibitors arrive the Friday before and, on Saturday morning, the flowers are judged before the public is allowed in.
Westfall said the exhibitors themselves do the judging.
“I know that sounds kind of screwy,” he said.
Only exhibitors who are accredited judges can fill that role, and must recuse themselves when judging their own flower, or one owned by a friend.
The show is judged in about three hours. After that, the doors open to the public at 1 p.m. The show floor is divided up based on size, form and color, and the best dahlias go onto the “honor table.”
The public is free to come and look at the flowers that had been judged.
According to Westfall, Ohio has a particularly vibrant Dahlia-growing scene. He said he can’t speak for the west coast, but in the east, it doesn’t get much better than the buckeye state.
“The best exhibitors and growers I’d say anywhere east of the Mississippi River… are located right here in Ohio, for some reason or another,” he said. “We’re good friends with all these people, and most of them show up at our show.”
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