The deadline for the 2004 America in Bloom (AIB) contest is March 31. AIB, the independent, non-profit organization that encourages nationwide beautification programs through the promotion of personal and community involvement and educational programs, will hold its awards ceremony at the 2003 AIB champion city, Indianapolis, Ind., October 7-9.
The AIB program was modeled after Canada’s Communities in Bloom, which has been thriving since 1995 and has expanded to over 500 communities. AIB strives to improve visual appeal of America’s neighborhoods through the imaginative use of flowers, plants and trees. It emphasizes environmental awareness and preservation of heritage and culture as key parts of the program. Last year’s winners included:
5,000 or less — Lewes, Del.
5,001-10,000 — Warwick, N.Y.
10,001-15,000 — Brecksville, Ohio
15,001-20,000 — Berea, Ohio
20,001-25,000 — Batavia, Ill.
25,001-50,000 — Lake Oswego, Ore.
50,001-100,000 — Reston, Va.
100,001-300,000 — Akron, Ohio
500,000-1,000,000 — Indianapolis, Ind.
1,000,001 or greater — Columbus, Ohio
There were also four special awards presented to communities that received high scores in all population categories:
Ball Horticultural Floral Displays Award — Lake Oswego, Ore.
Proven Winners Landscaped Areas Award — Brecksville, Ohio
Comminities in Bloom Community Involvement Award — Indianapolis, Ind.
The Scotts Co. Turf & Groundcover Areas Award — Glen Ellyn, Ill.
AIB brings together participants from all over the country. Communities throughout the United States register by population category and pay a fee based on that population size. Every participant receives a package containing: an evaluation grid explaining what the judges will be looking for; information on how to organize an effective working committee; ideas and suggestion for a local contest; and examples of successful efforts from other communities.
"It is a great vehicle for raising the awareness for plants and their role in enhancing livability and sustainability and beauty of our communities," says Nancy Buley, chair for the ANLA marketing and PR committee. "It is a great vehicle for raising the perceived value of the plants we grow."
Professionally trained judges travel to each community, evaluating participants in eight categories: floral displays, landscapes, trees, turf and open spaces, tidiness, heritage, environmental awareness and community involvement. Communities that score the most points out of 1,000 will be the winners of that population category.