Boy, 12, has winning touch in Flower Show

When Jack Williams was little, he wanted to be the next George Lucas, but now he’s thinking more along the lines of becoming a professional soccer player, and his backup plan is to be a lawyer.

Until he nails down his career plans, the 12-year-old is enjoying life and taking up hobbies, including one that might be considered a bit less conventional for one his age.

Jack has been entering floral designs in the Lebanon Garden Club’s Strawberry Festival Flower Show since he was 5 years old, and now has a sizable collection of rosettes to prove it.

It started at a swimming pool, when garden club member Lynn Newman told Jack they needed kid entries, said Anne Williams, Jack’s mom.

“(Newman) told me it would be good for me,” Jack said.

His first entry in 2011 was for the design theme “Happy Feet.” Since he loved soccer so much, it made sense for him to incorporate that into his design.

“I had a soccer cleat (shoe) that was too small for me. I put stuff in it,” he said.

Jack has been playing soccer since he was 4, and is currently on a competitive team in Albany, Anne noted.

“That’s where he’s happiest, is on the soccer field,” she said. “So for him, those were his happy feet.”

The garden club checks in with Jack every year to make sure he’s entering, Anne said. One year, the show wasn’t going to be judged, so the members made a special ribbon for him to encourage his participation.

As he gets older, there’s some question as to whether he will continue participating, but there’s always one thing that keeps motivating him.

“I like winning. I like the proof,” he said.

Yes he does. At about the time Jack started entering the flower shows, he also started entering the Strawberry Festival Fun Run, but wasn’t satisfied with only making it in the top 10 of his age group, Anne said.

“Then he discovered if he wore a cute costume, they get prizes for that,” she said.

So now Jack wears a costume for a chance to win.

“He’s very competitive.”

Jack likes to find interesting flower design supplies from second-hand shops, Anne said. The design entries are his favorite.

“When he was little, I only gave him some tips on putting greenery on the outside and making sure there are enough flowers,” she said. “He just has a little knack for it.”

Elsie Kuenzli, former chairman of the flower show, agreed Jack is very creative.

“He usually wins first place ribbons in whatever he enters,” Kuenzli  said. “He really shines in the design work, where imagination and creativity play a part. He wins the prized rosettes for his efforts every year.”

Sometimes Jack goes online for inspiration, but it doesn’t take long to know what he’s going to do.

“Usually, after I get all my ideas done and I get all the flowers, I just grind it all in one day,” Jack said.

This year he’s mentoring a 6-year-old friend.

“I’m going to teach her everything I know,” he said. “I want to help her.”

There aren’t very many kids who enter the flower show, Anne noted.

This year’s youth design themes include demolition derby, skateboard tossup, and lost in the jungle.

The standard flower show this year will be open for viewing from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 1, and from 12 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at Santiam Place, 139 S. Main St.


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  • The Lebanon Garden Club encourages children to enter its Flower Show.

    Entry booklets can be picked up at the library, 55 Academy St.

    The flower show also includes a quilt competition, and this year the garden club has added an arts competition, as well.

    Flower and art entries for the Strawberry Festival Flower Show will be accepted from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 31, and from 7 to 9 a.m. Friday, June 1. Entrants can bring their designs, horticulture or art to Santiam Place, 139 Main St.

    Contact person for flower show entries and any general information is Linda Boyd at (541) 259-3058. Denise Oster Hames will be the contact for the art competition, at (503) 309-5873.

    Flower Show “schedule” books will be available at the Lebanon Senior Center, Chamber of Commerce, Timeless Gardens nursery, and Green Thumb nursery or by contacting Boyd.  @541-259-3058.

    The Garden Club will have entry examples and information about entering during its monthly meeting at noon Monday, May 21, at Santiam Place,  139 S. Main St.  The public is always welcome.