MARS Rhodo Show celebrates 25 years

This year's show is at the Parksville Curling Rink on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Apr. 21, 2015 4:00 p.m.

For 25 years, residents of Parksville and Qualicum Beach have been drawn to the Rhodo Show and Sale mounted by the Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society.

This year’s show is at the Parksville Curling Rink this Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the club transforms the rink for a six-hour period. Colourful blooms line the judge’s tables and new visitors often gasp at the sight of such a wide range of varied rhododendrons, some familiar, some fragrant, some tender and all those wonderful plants for sale.

Local food stores lend shopping carts for the event and they are well used.

In the early years the show was called a Truss Show, but members finally realized that the general public had no idea what “truss” meant in rhododendron-speak, so the event became the rhodo show.

The first show, 25 years ago, was a brave move by a newly formed chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. Early sales took place at Wembley Mall, but eventually success forced the group to find other quarters. For the past several years, the curling rink in Parksville has been the venue, an ideal location for vendors.

The show has changed a lot since those first days, but one thing has always remained, the pot luck at the end of the day for all the volunteers. To mark this 25th anniversary, there will be a celebratory cake served to customers and vendors around noon.

Anyone in the area can bring a rhododendron bloom to be judged, although usually members are the predominant entrants.

“We have a sheet of rules to be followed and anyone can get those rules for the asking,” said chapter secretary Marilyn Dawson (e-mail dawsom@shaw.ca). “The downside is they have to be at the community rink before 8:30 a.m., prepared properly for the judges table. It’s kind of frantic at that time of day.”

The judges who examine the blooms are from Nanaimo and start at 9 a.m. One of the categories, Popular Choice, gives shoppers a chance to vote for their favourite bloom, which often is not judged Best in Show, even though it is the crowd favourite.

Members also bring bundles of blooms to transform the lobby and decorate the exhibition tables. Proceeds from this sale and the upcoming Mother’s Day weekend garden tour go toward horticulture ventures in the region.

Admission is free. For more information, call 250-752-3694.

— Submitted by the Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society