Holliston in Bloom Sends Spies to Arkansas
by Bobby Blair 9/25/12
On Monday one day after two Holliston in Bloom committee members returned from Arkansas, the town received the America in Bloom judges' report card.
The report card from the America in Bloom (AIB) judges arrived on Monday, a day after this writer Bobby Blair, Manager for the American Legion Downtown Marigold Project, and Mark Ahronian, of Ahronian Landscape & Design, returned from the America in Bloom Symposium in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Fayetteville in Northwest Arkansas is a college town and has participated in the America in Bloom contest for the past 12 years.
The benefits of Fayetteville's participation in AIB is clearly visible. Upon picking me up at the regional airport, Ahronian remarked to me about the quality of the air, and I too noticed that it was lighter and cleaner. The countryside reminded me of Vermont with rolling hills and open fields. While larger highways lead into Fayetteville complete with hotels, industry, and multinational shops and eateries, the city center itself is a mix of new and old Americana. While my overnight stay was too short, even missing a visit with my cousin John Blair from Arkansas, I did get a sense of vision and foresight from the visit. Mark Ahronian was able to tour the city and attend informational sessions provided by AIB over several days.
Everywhere you turned in Fayetteville trees, shrubs, flowers and plantings of all types sprung up from the ground. Completely walkable, the Saturday Farmer's Market was just wrapping up on a street which had been cordoned off in the city center. We saw it before Ahronian and I attended a meeting with the judges and other representatives of towns in our population category from across the country. Hoping to pick up a few pointers and steal a few worthy ideas, I somewhat felt like a spy.
The evening awards ceremony and dinner was held at the "Town Center" which was discreetly hidden off the sidewalk and laid out with a welcoming patio complete with trees and tables and chairs (above). In fact there were tables and chairs throughout the city center and I could only think of Pejamajo's quest this summer to do the same in downtown Holliston. Today, in between writing this story and passing through downtown, I spotted three men sitting on the bench between Fiske's and Pejamajo's eating what appeared to be subs. A table would have been nice I thought. While Holliston didn't take any major awards home, we did receive recognition for our tree programs and this writer did receive a plaque for being nominated for the Community Champion Award.
The above plaque citing Holliston as a four-bloom out of five possible blooms (star) community was accepted by Mark and myself on stage Saturday evening. Holliston's AIB u-tube video although not getting a first place finish is now featured on the AIB website. All in all it was great to be part of something bigger than ourselves. The AIB Contest and program is not just about flowers. The judges' report card which we will feature here on HollistonReporter.com can attest to that fact.