Mosier, from Decatur, has been the judge for the 4-H
Floriculture/Flower Gardening competition in Logan County for so
long she can't remember when she started.
"It was when Larry
Steffens was superintendent," she said. "Sometimes, I have watched
children from the time they turned 8 until they graduated and went
off to college. I used to also judge the open vegetable class."
Carlene Carter of Lincoln said three of her five children have
shown in the 4-H class over the past dozen or so years, and Mosier
has always been their judge.
She described Mosier as "firm but fair.
"They may get a red ribbon because of bug damage," Carter said.
"She follows the rules, but she is always very kind to them."
"Very gentle," agreed Carter's sister, Darlene Crider of Lincoln.
Jason Steffens, who now serves as department superintendent with
his wife, Beth, said that Mosier has been a judging the 4-H show
"every bit of 20 years."
"I've been a superintendent for 16 years," he said, "and she was
judging when I was showing.
"She's a great judge. She takes time to develop a relationship
with the kids. She's ultimately interested in making them better
year after year."
Steffens said Mosier also sponsors two awards for the department.
One is the Betty Mosier Book Award, and the other is her paycheck
for judging, which she donates back to the fair.
"She does it to be a part of the fair," he said, "and to help
kids learn more about floriculture and horticulture."
Mosier was equally generous in her praise of the Steffens family.
"I think the Steffens do an amazing job," she said. "It's a big
commitment from that family for many, many years."
Miriam Carter, who has been showing flowers for several years,
said Mosier has been the judge ever since she started 4-H.
"She's really nice actually," the youngster said. "Even when your
flower's all ripped up, she's nice about it."
The 4-H'er said she learned from Mosier not to have leaves on her
arrangements under the water and that it's important to match
"I had a yellow flower and a pink one once," she said. "That
This year, Miriam Carter took the award for best annual with an
arrangement of pink gladioli.
"I really, really like gladiolus," she said. "It's hard to match
them, because usually the flowers aren't the same size."
But this year, they matched.
Mosier said there are certain basics she always discusses with
the competitors. These include the name of the flower, whether it
was grown from a seed or a transplant, and how it was protected
against weeds and bugs.
"I like to get to know the children a little bit," she said.
"Kids are marvelous. Some are very engaging -- and some are so shy."
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Mosier said that each year she sees some new varieties of
flowers. "This year, it was a pretty little zinnia with striped
petals," she said. "Certain families used to bring certain flowers,
like gladiolus. This year, there was just one gladiolus. The
families have come and gone.
"It's curious -- there are varietal differences, but the kinds of
perennials people bring have stood the test of time.
"Illinois is a pretty harsh place to grow things," she commented,
noting the commitment needed to keep plants watered in the
Mosier said the floriculture exhibit has gotten very much smaller
in recent years.
"My home county is Macon County," she said, "and our fair has
also diminished a huge amount in the 4-H part. Kids get busy and
their parents work.
"Sports take a big toll on families. I know. My grandson plays
baseball. They're gone sometimes three to five nights a week."
Mosier and her husband, Ken, display products from their large
garden at the Illinois State Fair each year. "He does beautiful
vegetable displays," she said, "and I do herbs. Ken also paints
beautiful pictures. He's working on one right now for the Illinois
Mosier also serves as superintendent of the Farm Produce Division
of the Macon County Fair, which includes corn and soybeans and
She has been a Master Gardener for the past 11 years and calls
that program "wonderful."
"I have lots of friends I enjoy working with," she said.
For Mosier, a part of the fun of going to the fair is seeing
longtime friends. "Each year exhibitors sort of have a little family
reunion and catch up on what has happened over the past year," she
said. "It's a part of the fair.
"I think fairs are important to a community. I know they are
having a hard time financially -- even the state fair struggles. But
they're good community boosters."
[By NANCY SAUL]