Garden Show Exhibits – How can we encourage children to take part?

Changing Trends at our Local Horticultural Garden Show

I am privileged to be a member of our local horticultural society committee and the last meeting included a line on the agenda saying ‘review the autumn show.’ So, we did just that.

It would be interesting to see how the following stark figures compare to your own show. At our autumn show, held on the day the Tour of Britain raced through the village, the actual numbers of exhibits were up but the number of exhibitors was down.


Less people doing more.

We had less people baking the cakes for refreshments but they took more money for the society. We had less people visiting the show but the ones who did spent more on raffle tickets. Worrying? Or an increase in efficiency and economy?

And this a trend over the last few years.

Now, I did my bit this year. I think. My 70 exhibits certainly helped to fill the benches and even caused the steward a few headaches when my begonias needed to be staged elsewhere - not in the metre-wide space left on the table (a table that would have collapsed under the weight of my beauties). The number of tomatoes compensated for the lack of jam and chutney exhibits. Things were moved around. The hall looked full.


Where were the children's exhibits?

However, the alarming stat from the post show figures is that we had, for the first time, no children's exhibits. Nothing.

The trend has been a downward spiral but “nothing” is certainly alarming. Over the years we have tried everything. Local schools have been contacted and spoken with. Sugary treats were offered as prizes. But nothing this year. Perhaps it was because this year the show fell on the first weekend after the schools went back - maybe our little five-year olds were shattered after their first week at big school.

Or maybe we are missing something.


We need your help!

So, I need your help. At the meeting it was suggested to simply scrub the classes from next year's schedule and accept that children are not interested in growing a cress head in an egg shell or creating a mini allotment using things from the kitchen. But giving up feels defeatist. OK, it’s been a long decline but surely to goodness we can come up with something to reinvent, rejuvenate and inject some interest back into the children’s classes.


My question to you is simple. How do we engage children to become involved at a horticultural show?

Please send me your comments as I have one month to produce a persuasive argument for the rest of the committee to ratify. Forget about Brexit negotiations for the moment as this is much more important. Well, it is for our horticultural society’s survival.