If you’ve been to the Alaska State Fair, then you’ve seen the beautiful flowers on display.

Every year local gardeners hand select their brightest, most impressive plants to submit for the annual flower contest. The judges await the flowers in the agricultural building, where each flower will be inspected for perfection. You’ll find everything from dahlias and forget-me-nots to flower arrangements and succulents.

“You’ll see a lot of mathematicians. A lot of economists, a lot of business types because it changes every day. The constant is changed in the flower, the weather, in what’s going to happen. That’s what makes it interesting,” says David Morgan.

Morgan is a Rosarian, certified by the American Rose Association as an expert on the flower. He and his wife Connie have been helping judge the rose division for the last 10 years.

”On a 10-point scale, this is probably an eight, eight and a half. This would be a nine. Within two-tenths of one point,” says Morgan, as he inspects a red rose. “Close. They’re always close.”

You might be surprised at just how strict the judging criteria are. Flowers have to be the perfect size, length, and shape. They need to have the right number of petals — not too many or too few. In addition, those petals have to be arranged in just the right shape. A rose for example, needs to be open enough to look inside, but not so open that the petals become loose and fall off. Discoloration is discouraged, as well as any marks or areas of mildew on the flower.

That’s not all.

“I disqualify any flowers that have any bugs, critters in it. Why do you do that? Because this is a rose show, not an ant show,” says Morgan.

If a flower meets the sufficient standards, it may be awarded a prize. First, second, third, and honorable mentions ribbons are awarded in each category. Every first place ribbon goes on to compete for a purple ribbon, making it the division winner. One of the most coveted awards — best in show — is chosen out of all the purple ribbon winners.

Judging for round two of the competition happened Thursday morning. You can see these newest flowers on display through the end of the fair on Monday, Sept. 5.

KTVA’s Rachael Penton can be reached by email, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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