Camellias and those who love them turned out Saturday in Modesto for an annual judging and celebration of the blooms.
The 56th annual Modesto Camellia Show continues Sunday at the E.&J. Gallo Winery administration building, offering not just a look at the flowers and their forms but also a chance to walk the grounds there, normally closed to the public.
A pair of peacocks – one male with his bright iridescent plumage – held court outside as people began to flow in shortly after the show opened, keeping an eye on things from the foot of the stairway.
Inside the lobby, the public was able to see hundreds of blooms as well as photography of camellias. The locale has proven popular along the camellia show circuit, thanks to its rainforest-like atmosphere.
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Also a popular draw: the rarely open Gallo grounds with a park-like view and mile-long walk. About 1,000 camellias are planted along a winding pathway around a large lake.
Calvin and Eileen Olson of Modesto were among those making their way along that path. They have attended the Modesto Symphony’s Picnic at the Pops concerts held outdoors there in September. “We thought let’s see what it looks like another time of year,” Calvin Olson said.
The Camellia Society of Modesto held its judging in the morning, using a new and – as it turned out – successful technique that sped along the process, according to society President Marvin Bort.
At the suggestion of judge chairman Peter Warner, they took a cue from a golf tourney process using a “shotgun” style this year. That lead to a sharp decrease in the time it took the show’s 40-plus judges to scrutinize the tables and tables of blooms.
The shotgun technique had a set group of judges start at each table which then moved along to the next, rather than standing in line one-by-one. Judging was completed in about 45 minutes this year, far better than the 2 hours or more it’s taken in the past, Bort said.
Also helping organizers and those carting in hundreds of blooms to show were members of the Downey High School football team, who volunteered in the morning. It was a particular help to the older folks who brought in their displays, Warner said.
The Modesto Camellia Show continues Sunday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the grounds, 600 Yosemite Blvd. in Modesto. Use the Morton Boulevard entrance and follow the signs to the admission-free event.