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Camellia Show coming up this weekend

It’s not spring yet, but the flowers are abloom.

The 50th Annual Camellia Show is coming up this weekend, and the Brookhaven Camellia Society is hard at work preparing for one of the largest camellia shows in the United States.

Husband and wife, Homer and Lynn Richardson have been chairmen of the event since 2000.

“We try to get people hooked on camellias,” said Lynn Richardson.

Last year, the show had an unusually large number of entries at around 2,500. The average is around 1,500, which is what is expected this year.

Over 50 judges from Texas to Florida will inspect the blooms. The judges also compete, but only in categories they are not judging. Both Richardsons are judges.

One of the several categories is the Lincoln County Category, specifically for the local folks.

“All of our local people are very supportive and helpful,” Lynn Richardson said.

The show is from 2 until 5 p.m. on Saturday and from noon until 4 p.m. Sunday at the Brookhaven Recreation Department.

Three vendors will be at the event. Camellias will be available for purchase on Saturday only.

“You’re not going to get a better price,” said Lynn Richardson.

On average, 300 to 400 onlookers show up to view the beauties. Entrance is free.

One winner, a runnerup, and Court of Honor selection are awarded for each category.

In diameter, the flowers range from 1 1/2 inches to 7 inches. The diverse camellia requires little care.

“They’re really easy to grow,” said Lynn Richardson. She said all they need is well-drained soil and sun. She mentioned that there are camellias in China over 1000 years old.

She, like most camellia growers, is passionate about her camellias, referring to them as her “babies.”

Homer Richardson mentioned there are more than 50,000 named varieties of the camellia.

“I grow them for the landscaping; she grows them for the blooms,” he said.

An interesting fact about the camellia plant is that the sweet tea that southerners love so well comes from the plant’s leaves. The tea plant is the sinensis camellia.

Anyone can enter to win at the show. Entries will be received from 7:30 until 11 a.m. on Saturday.

There will be refreshments and a raffle for camellias; the raffle grand prize is a quilt by Renee Naeger.

Vendors selling camellias are Kyle McCaskey Nursery of Lucedale, Jim Campbell’s Riverside Camellias Nursery of Covington, La. and Mizell Camellia Hill Nursery of Folsom, La.

“It’s a good chance to see a wide variety of different blooms,” Homer Richardson said.