If you don’t think gardening is a family activity, just look at some of the “best of show” winners at Friday’s Horticulture and Floriculture Show at the Washington Town & Country Fair.

Colleen Simons and granddaughter Payton Simons, 10, were among the award winners. Colleen took best of show judges’ choice in the specimen show, and Payton received best of show in the junior categories for fruit/vegetable arrangement, specimen and fairy garden.

Contestants were judged in numerous categories, including fruits and vegetables, houseplants and flowers. 

The Simonses live on a family farm near Union.

“She has been gardening with me since she was little,” Colleen Simons said.

Colleen Simons encourages families to get kids involved with activities like the Country Kids 4-H Club, which Payton Simons is in.

But to get involved with gardening, you don’t need a farm. “Start small, and grow from there,” Colleen Simons said. “Just dig it.”

Another family to take home multiple awards were the Unerstalls, of Clover Bottom. Mom Kristina Unerstall received first runner-up in terrarium, and daughter Maggie Unerstall received best of show in jumbo fruit and vegetable, as well as first runner-up in junior fruit/vegetable arrangement and junior fairy garden.

“My parents did it with me,” Kristina Unerstall said. “I’ve been doing it with my girls since they were old enough to walk.”

Kristina Unerstall advises people to take their time with gardening and not get frustrated. “Sometimes it doesn’t go as you want it,” she said.

There were 299 entries in the Horticulture and Floriculture Show this year. Co-Chair Dave Wehmeyer said the flower entries at the 39th annual event, which was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, were likely hurt by the heat.

“The garden produce was great this year,” he said. “We got some great garden produce.”

Wehmeyer also suspects some regular contestants took the year off to enjoy the fair rides and games after missing out last year. “I’m sure it will be up again next year,” he said.

The Washington Garden Club and Franklin County Master Gardeners assist with the event.

Art Winters took best of show for zinnia, as well as first runner-up for arrangement. He spends time gardening at the Brick Inn Bed and Breakfast he owns on Third Street, where he has grown a 10-foot tomato tree. 

“It just took off,” he said. “It likes the heat against the house. The people walk by and say, ‘Wow.’ It puts a smile on people’s faces.”

Best of show winners

Garden produce show: fruit/vegetable, Carolyn Kemper; big tomato, Mark Brune; oddity, Jessica Stern; challenge class, Jon Meyer; jumbo fruit/vegetable, Maggie Unerstall; fruit/vegetable arrangement, Jon Meyer; junior fruit/vegetable arrangement, Payton Simons; sunflower, Bryanna Winfree. 

Houseplant show: Rosalyn Pursley.

Specimen show: flower classes 1-32, Cheyenne Wehmeyer; judges’ choice, Colleen Simons; foliage, Jase Taylor; collection, Dave Wehmeyer; grouping, Patti Winfree; zinnia, Art Winters; junior grouping, Jase Taylor; junior specimen, Payton Simons; junior houseplants, Raegan Perriman.

Open division: arrangements, Roxy Risley; fairy garden, Roxy Risley; terrarium, Kylee Perriman.

Junior division: fairy garden, Payton Simons; terrarium, Emma Unerstall; arrangements, Mya Rode.