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I established the US National Bonsai Exhibitions in 2008, against advice from across the United States and Canada that it would not succeed. They thought the area of the United States is large and people will not want or find it difficult to transport bonsai across our country. It was established for one purpose only, to display fine quality bonsai in the United States. The US National Bonsai Exhibitions were not designed to highlight artists, professionals or hobbyists; it was about the trees, NOT people.

Here are some statistics for the first five US National Bonsai Exhibitions: I have not had time to include the recent, successful 2018 6thUS National Bonsai Exhibition, have been busy publishing the Commemorative Album and the 157th issue of International BONSAI.

A total of 1,634 bonsai submissions were received and 1,336 trees were displayed.

Bonsai were submitted from 679 different exhibitors and 517 exhibitors were accepted from 40 states and Puerto Rico, with special exhibits from two provinces of Canada.

Each year over 100 different species and cultivars were represented and a total of 470 shohin bonsai were displayed.

Although not the original purpose, the US National Bonsai Exhibitions have been good for the bonsai business in the United States. There has been an increase in the sale of wire, especially in smaller sizes necessary to refine bonsai design. There has also been significant increase in the commission of custom-made bonsai containers and display tables needed for formal displays. Professional bonsai artists have enjoyed the needed additional income from assisting people develop, refine and prepare their bonsai for display.

All of this is in addition to raising the level of bonsai in the United States because people are now aiming to have their bonsai displayed in a US National Bonsai Exhibition.

I believe it’s a good thing I did not listen to the naysayers and proceeded, with lots of support and help from sponsors, contributors and people who thought like me to establish a US National Bonsai Exhibition.
When will the next US National Bonsai Exhibition be scheduled?

Vance Wood

Lord Mugo
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The smiley face was to suggest I was joking. However, I prefer judged shows and in my experience, those who oppose it generally don’t have great trees. It is quite obvious that the point of shows is to show other people our trees, to inspire, etc. The element of judging forces participants to step up and take it seriously, which should increase the quality, and therefore the viewers’ experience.
The simple fact of the matter is that judged shows do drive up the quality of the work exhibited. For many years our club shows were exhibit only. When we decided it was time to start judging the show we lost a couple of members who did not agree, but the over all quality of our show grew rapidly as the quality of our trees and the seriousness of our members increased dramatically. Judged shows attract the best trees, the best vendors who obviously sell better starter trees, tools, pots and finished trees. You wont find any of these things at your local duffer shows that are content with their little "Maybe a bonsai some decade a work in progress trees" full of hope and little else. I know this sounds cruel but it is none-the-less the truth.

What member on this forum would prefer attending, as a viewer, a non judged show? Who but a staunch idiot would go to a horse race and not consider who wins? Who would hold a horse race only for the sake of watching horses run? Another point: Judged shows attract great talent as judges and great talent as demonstrators where those people in the clubs or back yard growers, can increase their knowledge and hone their skill. Once as a person who grows bonsai out of love for the art comes to the conclusion that great bonsai does not just come to you out of standing in place as the bonsai gods drop knowledge, wisdom, and artistry on your head, but is the product of skill and effort and a willingness to recognize a personal need to learn. All of this is the product from the fruits of judged shows. The fact you may have trouble finding a non judged show speaks for itself.
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Warrenton North Carolina
Being that I am a beginner I think most of my trees would give the very experienced among us a cramp. This is why I show my trees to everyone who will look. I plan on entering two displays/ shows this year even though I know my trees will fall far short of the quality that others will have. I hope for constructive criticism and will keep a notebook handy to write down ideas from the more experienced. I am old and don’t have time for vanity.

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