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SHOW: Limiting Entries

From: Sharon McAllister <73372.1745@compuserve.com>

LInda Doffek wrote:

>  I am going to my local iris club meeting tomorrow night and we are going
to be
>  discussing shows.  Specifically, limiting entries. 

It depends on the circumstances of the club, but limiting entries worked
well for us.  The year was 1981.  The Show Chairman was our now-well-known
Tom Tadfor Little, and I wrote the schedule.  This is the short version of
the story....

First, WHY we did it:

1.      We had passed the limits of growth for our exhibition space.  In
our previous show, we'd had to place the vases so closely together on the
table that it was difficult to clearly examine each specimen.

2.      We were in a relatively remote area.  It had sometimes been
difficult to get even three panels of judges -- so adding a fourth appeared
to be out of the question.

We realized that expansion was no longer feasible, so it wasn't hard to
agree that the time had come to focus more on quality than quantity -- the
question was simply "How?".  

The answer:

1.      We limited the total number of horticultural entires per exhibitor
to 20.

2.      We limited an individual's entries in a single class to 10.

We chose these numbers by analyzing our records of past shows.  Only a
handful of people had entered more than these limits in a single show over
the past few years, so these particular choices would clearly affect
relatively few members.  Most of the smaller growers liked the idea because
it it would improve their competitive positions -- but the key to smooth
passage was that the idea originated with one of the club's largest growers
AND we'd lined up the support of the biggest four BEFORE we formally
presented the plan.  The club's growth rate at the time helped us sell the
idea as temporary.   We expected to expand to two shows -- an early and
mid-season show one year, a mid-season and late show the next.   [I do
firmly believe that 2 or 3 shows provide the ideal solution for larger

To emphasize quality, we even added a new category,  "Cream of the Crop",
that recognized the entrant who won the highest percentage of blue ribbons.
 The result was a more diverse, better balanced show.   Staging was easier
for the judges, more attractive for the public to view.   I count the
venture a success.

Our plans for the future were rosy -- but you know what happens to the
best-laid plans.....   Our growth pattern reversed.   The remaining
founding members passed away.  Many formerly active members moved away.   
New members joined.   I dropped out to help my mother in her fight with
cancer -- by the time I returned, the emphasis had turned to TBs and the
largest gardens were gone.  

Today, the club holds a single show, later in the season when TB bloom
peaks in the latest gardens.  There are very few median, aril, or arilbred
entries -- they're long gone.  There are very few LA & Spuria entries,
because their season has just begun.   But a primarily TB show does fit
into the available time and space, so the limit on # of entries has been
dropped.  My point is that this solution DOES work for this same club under
current conditions.  

A bit long-winded, I admit, but I hope this explains my opening comment
about the answer depending on the circumstances.  The question is not just
"do we want to limit the number of entries?"  but "is there a better

Sharon McAllister

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