EXHIBITING GOURDS -- Getting it right!
by John Stevens

At gourd shows you can exhibit fresh gourds from this year's crop and gourd craft from the previous year's crop. Also many county, regional and state fairs have classes for exhibits of both fresh gourds and gourd craft. Many people display their gourds at home in   attractive table centerpieces and in many other ways for family and friends.

There is more to exhibiting gourds than just picking some gourds and taking them to the show. One of the first things to do is to obtain and read the schedule orentry list to see the kinds of exhibition classes that are available for fresh gourds, past season gourds or gourd craft. For example, the Mt. Gilead show has a large number of classes so you need to understand what is expected for each class. Most fairs and gourd shows have a deadline date for entries so they can plan the spaces for the show and make entry tags for each exhibit. Be sure your entry is mailed before the deadline as some shows, especially faris will not accept entries mailed after thedeadline. Enter as many classes as you can, one entry per class, but don't take poor or inferior gourds to the show. It is better to skip a class even after sending for a tag than toexhibit inferior gourds which will detract from your exhibit and the show.

Enter your gourds as they are specified in the schedule or entry list. If ten ornamentals, excluding warties, are specified, try to have ten different, non-wartyornamentals which are true to type. If ten warties are specified, have ten warties and nothing else. When the class call for a specific number on gourds be sure to exhibit just that many, no more no less. Watch for the particular description for each class or entry and do exactly what it call for.

When selecting fresh gourds for exhibit, select well matures gourds with the stem still attached. The stem adds much to the appearance and is considered an esthetic part of the gourd. The stem also aids in the curing of the gourd later on. Do not leave a part of the gourd vineattached to the stem.

The gourds you select for exhibit should be free from blemishes and discoloration due to lying on the ground or against the trellis. The best gourds to select are those that have hung on the trellis and have not touched anything that causes blemishes. Also guard against selecting gourds that have defective spots or markings. Mainly the lines are not straight or have swirls in them.However, some gourds with small amounts of discoloration or ones with small swirls can be used in large gourd displays such as three feet by three feet display. Use gourds that are as near perfect and true to type as possible in all calsses or gourd displays.

When selecting gourds for exhibit, always gather them as matured as you can find with the stems still attached. Clean the gourds thoroughly to remove all dirt, dust, spray or insect residue. Clean gourds slways look  nicer than dirty ones. Clean carefully near the stem as they break off easily. Do not put an artificial or glossy finish on your fresh gourds. A natural finish looks better  than an artificial one. For a natural sheen, polish the gourds by buffing with a soft cloth.

The individual displays such as spoons, crown of thorns or warties look nicer when they are displayed in a neutral colored basket or tray, or an appropriate piece of cured gourd or a gourd bowl. A bright colored container sometimes distracts from the natural beauty of the gourds. Do not display your gourds in too small a container as they look crowded and cannot be seen to the best advantage by either the judge or by individuals that come to view the show.

Large displays such as three feet by three feet should contain some of every variety of gourd available, and show as many sizes and shapes as possible. Be sure to have only gourds in the display unless the schedule states that other natural material is permitted. Above all, arrange all exhibits attractively. Stand back away from the display to get the full effect of your design. Sometimes obvious design faults will pop right out and you cancorrect them before the entry is judged. If you're not sure about something, ask someone. Gourd people are always glad to help.