Winter,   Fall,   Summer,   Spring

Winter 2014

Many state chapters of the American Gourd Society held Gourd Shows/Festivals in 2014, and many of them included competitions to select their state's best manipulated gourd, a.k.a Jim Story Award winner. These winning gourds are each eligible for the national Jim Story Award. We hope the state chapters remind the winners to follow through and submit the photos and documents for consideration. As a reminder, the entry directions are described below. But first we'd like to report on some of the things the JSA Committee has been working on since the summer of 2013.

Accomplishments to date
1. Revised the cash award policy to provide a cash incentive to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners beginning with the 2014 competition.
2. Revised submission date for state winners competing for the AGS Jim Story award to November 30th. This change allows our judges to select that year's national Award winners in time to announce the results in the Spring edition of The Gourd Magazine.
3. Revised and further clarified the Jim Story Award application, rules and questionnaire.
4. Produced and presented Jim Story Award certificates to previous Award participants.
5. Produced and published a set of Manipulated Gourd Judging Guidelines in the Summer 2014 issue of The Gourd Magazine (and also available on the Jim Story page of the AGS web site) whereby a point system will be used by experienced National judges for determining future Award winners. These judging guidelines may be adopted by any state chapter where desired.
6. Working with The Gourd Magazine editorial staff, we have helped produce several "I Remember Jim story" type articles to help educate the general AGS membership as to a few of the MAJOR contributions Jim made to the development of the AGS.

More To Be Done
There is still much work to be done and we need your help with.
~ Encourage your members to consider planting a backyard gourd garden

  • Celebrate and praise the small growers in your patch & chapter
  • Swap local raw gourds at patch and chapter gatherings
  • Have a local master gardener write a quarterly gourd growing column for your newsletter
  • Feature a different member who grows his or her own gourds in each newsletter

  • ~ Encourage your members to try their hand at gourd manipulation - manipulation is not limited to tying knots.
  • Refer to some of the several "how to" articles on this subject that have been published in The Gourd Magazine.
  • Make copies of these how to articles and share them with interested members
  • Publish photos of your local member's manipulated gourds ... their successes and the lessons learned when something goes wrong.

  • ~ Even if your chapter does not have a gourd art competition you can still have a Manipulated Gourd! Jim Story Award competition in your state gourd show. If you have a gourd art competition that does not include raw gourd categories, you can still have a Manipulated Gourd/Jim Story Award category.
  • Making the JSA competition available at your local gourd show will encourage some of your members to try their hand at gourd manipulation. It only takes a couple of growers who are willing to accept the challenge to make it a viable category.
  • Encourage your members to try!

  • Calling All State JSA Winners
    Your state chapter selected a Jim Story Award winner. Congratulations. Maybe that winner will also be the National Jim Story Award winner. We hope that all state winners have already completed the steps to be considered. Obviously the ideal time to do so is while all the excitement and adrenaline is flowing from the state show ... but even ifthere has been weeks or months since receiving the state award these entrants have until November 30th to enter the AGS 2014 Jim Story Award competition. Entry forms and details can be found on the Jim Story page of the AGS website.
    ~ Obtain the Award Application form at www. americangourdsociety.org/award.html
    ~ Review the Rules, Award Questionnaire, Judging Guidelines, and Frequently Asked Questions documents which are also located at the URL listed above One rule I should mention is the entrant must also be a member of AGS ... but that person can join easily!
    ~ Submit the Application form and required documentation, which includes good photos of the award winning gourd no later than November 30th to:

    P.O. BOX 2186
    KOKOMO, IN 46904-2186
    Thank you Terry Noxel, for your continued behind-the-scenes help to the JSA Committee. We hope that AGS Chapters and members will also continue to help us PROMOTE, PROMOTE, PROMOTE the Jim Story Award.
    Thank you,
    Glenn Burkhalter, Chairman Jim Story Award Committee

    Fall 2014


    AGS National Guidelines
    Below are the guidelines that the Jim Story Committee has developed for use by judges when examining entries in dried manipulated gourd and/or the Jim Story category. For consistency at competitions (state and the national) Jim Story Judges, AGS Judges, and Show Chairpersons are encouraged to apply this point system. Questions arising from reading these guidelines should be directed to Glenn Burkhalter, Jim Story Committee Chairperson, algourds@aol.com.

    Point System For Judging
    Judges have discretion in determining whether or not a gourd is considered perfect and to apportion points within each criterion according to their best professional judgment. Within each category, a "perfect" gourd could be awarded the maximum number of points. A lesser number of points reflects the degree to which the gourd did not meet the criteria despite being a good entry (perfection in nature is elusive).

    Maximum Points Criteria 
    10 points Cleanliness
    10 points Cultural Perfection 
    75 points
          0-35 points

          0-45 points

         - Innovation, Uniqueness,     
         -Degree of Difficulty, Skill level 
    5 points  Green Cleaning 

    Cleanliness: "Made clean." All visible exterior skin and dirt should be removed from the gourd from the tip of the stem (if present) to the blossom end; including the inside surface of tight knots, spirals, coils, curves and bends.You should not be able to see any skin or dirt remaining on the gourd.
    Cultural Perfection: "Free of blemishes or damage." Manipulation: "To manage or control artfully."
    A) Innovation/Uniqueness/Originality: When all else is equal the most unique manipulation should score higher.
    B) Degree of Difficulty/Skill level: A successfully completed difficult manipulation will score higher than an easier manipulation. For example, a double knot would score higher than an overhand single knot.
    i) Molds or Other Devices: Purchased or individually crafted by applicant? A homemade mold is more difficult and more unique. If it does not enhance the appearance of the gourd, leaving a manipulation device on the gourd should result in fewer points being awarded.
    ii) Other Manipulation Techniques:
    (1) Coils: Number and tightness of coils: How many times was the gourd wrapped around a pole or other device? The more wraps the higher the degree of difficulty. A tight coil (coils touching or close together) is more difficult than a loose coil.
    (2) Knots:
    (a) An overhand single knot is the least difficult to tie.
    (b) A figure eight knot is more difficult that an overhand single.
    (c) A square knot is more difficult than a single or an eight.
    (d) Two knots in one gourd are more difficult than any single knot.
    (e) Two knots straightened out (one above the other in the neck) is more difficult than two knots that are in the neck but not aligned one above the other.
    (f)Three knots would probably be a world record.
    (3) Etching: Involves scratching the surface of the shell deep enough to cause scarring that forms a pattern still visible after the skin has been removed. The finished gourd should be attractive with attention paid to the execution.
    (4) Anything Else: Could include twisting with a rope, stocking or other device.

    Green Cleaning: Intentionally separated from cleanliness. Jim Story green cleaned most of his gourds (scraped the outer skin off the gourd while it was still green) but that is difficult to do without the risk of the gourd drying too fast, shrinking and cracking. BE CAREFUL! (But Jim would want you to try).

    Summer 2014

     Bruce Barber recently stepped-down as Chairperson of the Jim Story Award Committee and Glenn Burkhalter has graciously agreed to accept the chairmanship on an interim basis. Glenn has several projects that he would like to see accomplished, among them are, 1) written guidelines for judging manipulated gourds (in progress), 2) clarification of the Award Rules (in progress), 3) additions and improvements to the Award page on the AGS website, and recognition certificates for past and present contestants and winners.

    The current committee members include Betty Finch and CeCe Thomas with Jane Story as an advisor. We are looking for new committee members and a potential permanent chairman. If you want to volunteer or have any suggestions, please contact Glenn by email algourds@aol.com. phone 256-883-0064 or by mail Jim Story Award Committee, c/o American Gourd Society, PO Box 2186, Kokomo, IN 46904

    Fund Raising
    Chapter presidents and treasurers: if you haven't made a contribution for 2014, please consider doing so soon. We count on the
    modest $20 donation from each chapter to fund the award each year.

    Larger donations are welcome and individuals are also encouraged to make donations as well. Make your check payable to American Gourd Society with "Jim Story Award Donation" written on the memo line and send to the AGS Treasurer Cheryl Trotter at 5135 Meadowlark Ln., Katy, TX 77493-2125

    2014 Contest
    A single, raw (undecorated) manipulated gourd grown in 2013 may be entered into any AGS Chapter's Judged competition in 2014 in a manipulated gourd category. The 1st place winners at every show should then be entered into the 2014 Jim Story Award ompetition for national recognition.

    How It Works:
    The show competition chairperson or president should notify the AGS Jim Story Award committee chairperson after the show of the number of contestants and the names of that year's winner. The winning entrant at the state level must fill out the application for the AGS competition (available on the AGS website) and send it in with two quality photos: one of the gourd and ribbon at your state competition (this one will be used for judging) and one with you and your winning gourd - to be printed in the Gourd Magazine.

    Key Dates:
    All applications and photos must be received by December 1, 2014 (which is more than a month after the last 2014 show with competition). Applications and photos must be sent to the Jim Story Award Chairperson, Glenn Burkhalter (see above). Judging will take place in December and winners will be announced in the Spring issue of The Gourd Magazine and awards will be delivered in person at the show of their choice.

    Spring 2014

    Two years ago (the spring of 2012 to be exact), a few hardy "gourdheads" vowed to plant a gourd seed, fertilize and water the plant, train the vine onto an arbor, fence or trellis, defend it against all insect and animal pests, wait impatiently for that first blossom, and then care for that little gourd as though it was their baby! Then, they began to manipulate it into something a man named Jim Story would have been awfully proud of! And who are these brave souls? These pioneers of the Jim Story Award competition for 2013? Well, just hold on a minute and I'll tell you. But first I want to tell you what it takes to be a winner.

    1. You have to decide to do it!
    2. You have to think about how you will do!
    3. Then, you just do it!

    Of course there is a little more to it that that. Our 2013 winner designed and constructed a stainless steel cage that would not rust during the growing and drying process. He took photos of the little gourd as it grew and matured into a fine specimen. Then he carefully cleaned the outer skin off leaving a beautifully manipulated gourd resting forever within its cage!

    Second and third place winners were more traditional and produced a couple of beautiful knotted gourds. I'm sure Jim Story would have been equally proud of their efforts as well.

    The 2013 Jim Story Contest Results Are In
    First let me congratulate all State Chapter entrants and winners of Manipulated Gourds. It is a challenge to grow and cure a manipulated gourd and in the spirit of Jim Story and we heartily congratulate all of you. Now to answer your question, "Who are the three hardy souls selected as winners in the 2013 competition?"

    Well, the third place winner is Terry Hemmer from Findlay, Ohio who won the first place honor at the Ohio Show. I'm not sure if Terry has entered the competition before, but I do know that he entered a beautiful gourd in 2013. The second place winner is Bruce Barber from the city of Galena, Ohio. Bruce has entered the competition several times in several states. His 2013 gourd won 1st place in Indiana. Bruce is always a strong competitor. And the first place winner is ..... Alan Sweeney. Alan hales from Caldwell, Idaho and his gourd was the 1st place winner at the 2013 Idaho show. I believe this is Alan's first entry in the competition and I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future. The Jim Story Award trophy and cash award will be presented to Alan at the 2014 Idaho gourd show or show of his choice.

    Beginning with the 2014 competition, the cash award will be distributed among the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners according to the recommendations of the Award committee and the AGS Board of Directors in July 2013. The State Chapters voluntarily contribute $20 annually to fund this award. In addition, there are individual donors who wish to ensure the award continues well into the future. The AGS Board and the Jim Story Committee thank all who support this award.

    Now let me say just a word about our judges. While it is the policy of the Jim Story Award committee that all judges remain anonymous, let me assure you that they were well qualified for the job they were asked to do. All have experience in gourd manipulation and they worked hard on short notice to select our winners in a fair and impartial manner.

    One judge was appointed chairman and he developed a system where each judge would independently rank all the entries, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. and send their rankings to him. He recorded them on a form where he could get a sum total of the rankings and produce a master rank showing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. This master ranking was then sent to all judges for their final approval. When all judges agreed, the final results were sent to me and forwarded to Mrs. Jane Story for her review and approval. I would like to add my thanks to the judges for a job well done!

    Thank you!
    The Jim Story Award Committee: Bruce Barber, Chairman; Glenn Burkhalter, Member; Betty Finch, Member; CeCe Thomas, Member Bruce Barber; Galena, Ohio and Miss Jane Story