UACES Facebook Jacksonville woman takes home 1st place and people’s choice awards for rice centerpiece arrangement
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Jacksonville woman takes home 1st place and people’s choice awards for rice centerpiece arrangement

By Ryan McGeeney
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Fast Facts:

  • Top arrangement takes home both 1st place and people’s choice award
  • Arrangement used cacti and light succulents 

(290 words) 

STUTTGART — The big winner of this year’s Rice Centerpiece Arrangement Contest at the 2015 Arkansas Rice Expo not only took home the award for 1st place, but the people’s choice award as well. 

Judges — as well as the voting public — recognized Laurie Benhase of Jacksonville for her creative use of rice and other elements in creating the centerpiece. Benhase’s centerpiece included lilies, chrysanthemums, and six varieties of cacti. 

“I know cacti and rice are polar opposites — one needs water, the other doesn’t — but I thought the combination worked well,” Benhase said. She also wove rice into the basket itself. 

2015 was Benhase’s second time entering the centerpiece arrangement contest.







This arrangement by Laurie Benhase of Jacksonville won both 1st Place and the People's Choice Award at the 2015 Arkansas Rice Expo. (Photo by Division of Agriculture.)

Richard Klerk, interim staff chair for the Cooperative Extension Service office in Woodruff County and organizer of the centerpiece contest, said three judges examined 19 entries from seven participants. 

“The number of entries was down from last year, but the quality was still excellent,” Klerk said. 

Judges for the contest were all Arkansas County Master Gardeners, Klerk said. They judged each entry according to criteria including color harmony, design, balance, proportion, the overall condition of the arrangement, the suitability of materials in relationship to their respective container, distinction, originality and overall construction. 

Klerk said the arrangements were required to keep within a maximum height and width of 24 inches, requiring some entrants to clip leaves to make it “under the wire.” 

Arline Jackson of North Little Rock was awarded 2nd place in the contest, and Violeta Hayes of Wynne took 3rd place. 

“I was impressed with the quality of the centerpieces, and the work that the contestants put into their pieces. I’m looking forward to next year, and seeing ,ore people share their talents with those that attend the rice expo.”



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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126

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