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Friendly flower competition bridges communities

In a throwback to community flower garden contests, the third Annual South Marysburgh Bridge Challenge is well under way.

In the first year of the competition, Black River’s bridge claimed the Swan Trophy and bragging rights, followed by Milford’s in 2018.

“This year, the pressure is on to break the tie,” said Conrad Biernacki, who with Brian Musselwhite, of Black River Bed and Breakfast, created the friendly competition. The South Marysburgh Recreation Board covers the costs of the soil and plants.

“Each year, the two communities try to outdo each other to win the South Marysburgh Bridge Challenge trophy and gain the favour of the five judges who select the best set of flower boxes.”

Both Milford and Black River have four flower boxes on the bridges.

The Black River Bridge flower boxes were planted with a variety of hardy orange and yellow flowers.

At Black River the middle of each box is Baby Tut umbrella grass surrounded by yellow Marguerite daisies and orangey red strawflowers. Orange and yellow zinnias fill out the remaining space.

A mystery Black River yarn bomber added splashes of colour to the Black River Bridge.

“It’s  an eye-cathing combination of unified colours and different types of plants,” said Biernacki.

The Milford boxes were planted with a variety of colourful petunias.

The Milford boxes are planted with white, pink and purple petunias which flourished in their more protected environment, he said.

This year’s five judges include Lise Bois, President, PEC Horticultural Society, Elizabeth Crombie, Royal LePage ProAlliance Realty, Brian Decaire, CJBQ radio show host, Sharon Harrison, County writer, editor and columnist and Virginia Mitchell, Master Gardener and award-winning artist.

Biernacki and Musselwhite designed the winner’s trophy—a pottery swan on a wooden base—that was made by Bruce Dowdell of Milford.

“Since swans are commonly seen on the Black River, a swan seemed an appropriate motif for the trophy,” Biernacki said.”The base is made from white pine, a common tree in the original forest of the County before nearly all of it was cut for lumber and farmland.”

Each judge was asked to complete a five-question score sheet for each of the two bridges.

Their decision has been made, and now rests in a sealed, plain brown envelope in the care of Dowdell, president emeritus of the Milford Fair Board, who is to present the Swan trophy at the fair, Saturday, Sept. 14.

“The annual South Marysburgh Bridge Challenge is a way to encourage community engagement—and it’s been quite effective in doing just that,” said Biernacki.

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